First look: Tomb Raider (Xbox 360)

We play test the reboot of the landmark third person adventure series

When I played the original Tomb Raider on 1996, I was both equally impressed with the game as I was disappointed. On one side it was a technically impressive title that brought to life a 3D world on what was admittedly limited hardware. It also featured a mature setting and character in a gaming environment that was trying to shake off its juvenile image from the 16-bit era.

Raiding through the ages

The cumbersome controls, with some of the blame attributed to the DualShock-less control pad at the time, made the actual gaming experience harder than it should have, and by extension, frustrating. 1997’s Tomb Raider II was a bit more refined and aided by having a robust saving system. While Tomb Raider II was still true to its archaeological roots, the new direction of 1998’s Tomb Raider III, as well as the growing cult of celebrity around Lara Croft, would turn me off the franchise.

After Crystal Dynamics took over development duties for the current generation of consoles, the Tomb Raider franchise became a bit more focused and even returned to its roots with Tomb Raider: Anniversary in 2007. Unfortunately, the Uncharted series on PlayStation 3 had already set the benchmark for third person adventuring, admittedly doing all the right things that the Tomb Raider series should have done before it lost its way with the general public. I tried the new trilogy of Tomb Raider games from Crystal Dynamics years after they were initially released, but I found the gameplay a bit too slow paced compared to other thirst person titles to capture my interest.

Change for the better

Despite the minor makeover of Lara Croft, and a pair of decent Hollywood movies starring Angelina Jolie, I no longer held any goodwill for the character. Despite my mixed history with the franchise, the new Tomb Raider game overcame my initial misgivings and thoroughly entertained me from beginning to end.

It is true that the game has borrowed a lot of elements from Uncharted, which may seem odd since Uncharted itself borrowed from the original Tomb Raider games, but that is what makes the new Tomb Raider work. It feels and plays like a modern game, unlike the past titles which were a bit too old school for their own liking. The new game is also cinematic with high quality graphics to boot.

A new start

This is topped off with responsive controls and a satisfying combat engine, with the bow and arrow being one of the most rewarding weapons to use. As for Lara Croft, making her younger and more vulnerable, without the virtual and real world fame, makes the character feel as fresh as when the original Tomb Raider came out in 1996.

Pros

- Cinematic gameplay that rivals titles such as Uncharted.

- Responsive controls and weapons are well implemented.

- Atmospheric world that captures the excitement of exploration.

Cons

- Lara’s death animations can be surprisingly graphic.

- The mood of the game can be somewhat dark and depressing.

Bottom Line

Tomb Raider is a stellar example of what happens when a studio decides to pull out all the stops in reinventing a franchise that was weighed down by its own legacy.

Follow PC World Games on Twitter at @GameProAu or become a fan of the Facebook page.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags square enixCrystal DynamicsTomb Raider

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Patrick Budmar

Patrick Budmar

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?