When it comes to Lara's new dual-purpose weapon-tools, the bow and the pickax are both fun to use. Upgrading the bow with things like rope arrows, fire arrows, and damage bonuses kept it useful throughout the game. It's actually the weapon I used to defeat the final boss. The pickax adds a minor, but fun new dimension to climbing sheer surfaces, and like the bow, can be used to dispatch enemies quietly. Combat is relatively entertaining throughout, and though much of it feels familiar to other third-person shooters, I felt the game's automatic cover mechanic was particularly well implemented, and much less clunky than the more typical "press a button to stick to cover" systems. In the end, I enjoyed the Tomb Raider ride, but in a B-grade thriller sort of way. A lot of that has to do with the new direction it takes, which skews towards a much different and action-oriented balance of gameplay than its predecessors, and a script that can't quite bear the weight of the story's serious tone. There are a lot of exciting, cinematic moments and action to experience within, even though they come at the expense of the spirit of exploration and environmental puzzling the IP was originally built upon.
Lara in peril. This kind of thing happens a lot.
This Tomb Raider single-player review is based on pre-release review code for the Xbox 360, provided by the publisher. The game will also be available for PC and PlayStation 3 when it comes out on March 5. The multiplayer portion of the game will be reviewed separately under real world conditions.