Over the past few weeks I have finally gotten around to playing the recent Tomb Raider reboot that I picked up for cheap in the Steam sale earlier this year.
I was pretty amazed at how good this game was. I had heard lots of good things before starting to play it, but nevertheless I still had low expectations of it. That was partly because I'm not that much of a third-person fan on the PC, and partly because I'm not a fan of reboots in general.
On both counts I was quite impressed. In terms of being a reboot, I think they nailed a good origin story that has made Lara a much more believable and relatable character than her original incarnation.
Whilst her adventure was quite brutal towards the beginning of the game (bordering on being a bit too much in my opinion), overall I was really happy with the story and her progression from an inexperienced archaeology graduate to a hardened and desperate survivor capable of anything.
From a gameplay perspective, it was almost perfect. It could have been a bit more challenging, but overall I was very surprised at how polished the gameplay experience was. It had a good balance of fighting, discovery, and problem solving, and I really enjoyed levelling up her abilities and weapons, which progressed well in parallel to her character's experiences.
The length of the game was very refreshing too. I'm not too sure how many hours I put into it, but it was definitely a worthy slog to get through. I thought it was coming to an end with a fairly climactic scene, but it turned out to be only about two-thirds through the game. It's really good to see some AAA releases doing a decent length single player experience again.
Visually, I thought the game was excellent, although I wasn't a fan of the 'TressFX' hair effects. Tomb Raider didn't beat Crysis 3 for visuals, but the game had great variety of both lighting and environments, and the design overall was very impressive.
I'm not sure if Tomb Raider beats Bioshock: Infinite for the best game I have played this year, but it sure did give it a good shot.