Tomb Raider 2013
It’s good, because this (basically) is Batman: Arkham Asylum/City with LC instead of B-Man. :) Really is. The gameplay is not just very similar. The handling/controls is/are really slick and it’s about traversing a fixed-sized world that can be explored for optional secrets, the world is filled with enemies and the next scripted story mission always awaits in a certain area – everything stays accessible once the story is over. This formula works out for this game as well.
What doesn’t work, is this premise of a young, still somehow vulnerable Lara Croft in huge danger who’s slowly learning how to handle it. There is an extreme discrepancy between the cutscenes and the actual game. During all player controlled parts, LC is clearly the most powerful entity on this island. LC is heavily armed and every attacker is simply outgunned and outclassed endlessly. LC can easily kill anyone silently with a bow, killing every hostile in the area without even raising an alarm or mow all of them down with heavily modified, fully automatic weaponry.
Now all of that doesn’t make the game bad – certainly not (the worst parts were the, especially early, QTEs who almost made me break my keyboard), but what I’m saying is, that it’s (almost solely) fun because of the gameplay (yes, the more important part in a GAME), which has proven itself countless times by now in other titles too and not because of the story, characters – simply the whole enactment (the most intense moments are cool ideas like hanging upside down from a trap and fighting off bad guys, before they reach and kill Lara). It would have been great if all of this could have been fused together better, making it an experience even more enticing than “just” good gameplay. The messages/logs that were lying around were a good start (little else fleshed out the characters a bit), but ultimately I stayed detached from all the characters and hardly ever cared when someone got killed. The game is more a “her first adventure” kind of thing, than the promised “how she became LC”. On the other hand/to be fair, the old TR games often had so bad/forgetful plots, that this could still count as improvement.
Another highlight, that should be mentioned, is the patch-support this game has received. All too often even the biggest “AAA” titles are released and forgotten (maybe 1-2 patches, if gamers are lucky), no matter the (number of) problems remaining in the product. And if the developer still releases anything, it’s fee-based DLC, possibly bringing even more bugs along (which will never see a patch). So it’s fantastic to see a developer continue to polish and optimize even after release and thus not following the trend.
PS: I really dislike the current trend of everyone just naming their games/movies as if it was the first entry in the series. They deliberately create several products with the same name, it’s really annoying when looking for information about concrete titles. Star Trek. Does this refer to the franchise? The series? To the 1978 movie? To the 2013 game? The 2009 movie? Is this intentional?