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Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.9


Tomb Raider
November 2, 2014 | Ted Bade
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Art By Torchlight

Requirements:

Mac OS X: 10.9.1 | CPU: 2 GHz Intel | RAM: 4 GB | HD Space: 14 GB | Graphics: 512 MB VRAM - ATI Radeon HD 4670, NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M, Intel HD Graphics 4000 (with at least Intel i7 CPU)

Review:

The 2013 (released in January 2014 for Mac OS X) version of Tomb Raider is once again simply called Tomb Raider. However, it is a re-boot of the Tomb Raider franchise. Rather then yet another adventure for Lara Croft, this game occurs when Lara is younger, more college aged then the adult players are familiar with. This game is the most fun of all the Tomb Raider games I have played. Gameplay focuses more on survival and exploration, with gun battles and tedious motion puzzles as a part, but not the majority, of the game. As I write this review, I have completed about half of the game and I am truly looking forward to the remainder. It keeps your attention, offers plenty of challenges and action, and only gets frustrating at certain points.

In Tomb Raider you guide a young Lara Croft, who has joined an archeologist and a team of support people to search for the island of Yamatai for ruins from the time when the Priest-Queen Himiko ruled. A “freak” storm wrecks the team’s ship, and they wash up on a mysterious island, which just happens to be Yamatai. As Lara tries to gather team members to plan their rescue, she discovers that a group of mercenaries have inhabited the island, lead by a cult leader called Mathias. The cultists take her companion, Sam, a woman of Japanese descent who claims to have Himiko as an ancestor. Apparently, the cultists believe Sam can be used to complete a ritual to give Mathias some powers.

The young Lara tries to gather the remaining team members, find the location of Sam, and rescue her. The early part of the game is pretty much Lara investigating the island, searching for materials and weapons, and dealing with the mercenaries. Action gets very intense when Lara finds herself in the middle of a town created by the mercenaries. She has to fight often as she trys to rescue the members of her team. Gun battles are numerous, but I discovered that the use of stealth makes succeeding a lot easier.

This edition of the Lara Croft games has terrific graphics and the controls are are a lot more intuitive then previous versions (I have played almost every version released). What makes the game feel so smooth is that the computer AI actually controls Lara some of the time, so her motions and actions are a lot more realistic and appropriate for the events taking place. While I might be distracted by a phone call or a family member, Lara will crouch behind cover if she hears an enemy and doesn’t tend to easily walk off cliffs. Sure, if you force her to jump into the abyss, she will jump; if you walk her into flames she will complain, but still comply, doing her best to avoid them. Because of this, the player spends more time learning the necessary controls. While some exist, one doesn’t need to memorize a lot of complex multistep action sequences to play this game successfully. Often screen prompts will alert you to what action (that is which key-press), is necessary to complete some action.

All of this makes this edition of Tomb Raider significantly more fun then previous versions I have played. This is not to say that the previous versions weren’t fun, they were, but at times they could be tedious and frankly frustrating. Instead of Tomb Raider being a motion puzzle game with a vague story intertwined in the play, this version is a complex and in-depth adventure story with some fun as well as challenging motion puzzles thrown in. There are plenty of battles, a huge island to explore, and a variety of items to find (some historical and some necessary to enhance the abilities of Lara and her equipment). Essentially, a really top notch adventure game.

As you complete challenges in the game and find certain items, Lara gains experience which eventually adds up to skill points which can be used to enhance her abilities. Skill points can only be applied when you locate one of the many camp sites that exist on the island. These camps are also major save points. Dedicated players can return to the previous camp sites and play through again if they want to improve their efficiency. Experience enhancements affect Lara’s Survival, Hunter, and Brawler skills. Survival skills are about doing better searches of kills, crates, and other things, being able to recover arrows once used in a battle, and being better able to find your way in the environment. Hunter abilities are about battle, including mastery of various weapon types. Finally, the Brawler abilities are about surviving battles, using tricks and skills to affect your victory.



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