Let’s not beat around the bush shall we? Tomb Raider was never a game that you admired or loved for its gameplay or story. The only reason you played that game? Lara Croft. Tomb Raider has been exploring the world since 1997, but never made any serious impact, with a few titles even bombing at the shops. Although Square Enix didn’t make revolutionary changes to the series, they’ve done a good job to improve it and bring to a whole new level.

Feral Interactive took us by surprise late last year when they announced that Tomb Raider was also coming to the Mac. But does the Mac version of the game holds its own?

You can get it from the Mac App Store:

[appstore id=625206080 price=39.99]​

 

Enter Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider

The biggest shortcoming of the series was its repetitive and simple gameplay. Super Mario and Tomb Raider had a lot in common. It was all scripted, allowing absolutely no creativity. Do anything wrong and the gameplay mechanics would have you killed.

Square Enix took a cue from Hitman and gives you multiple ways to solve the puzzles and challenges. You can either take out enemies all nice and quiet like Agent 47, or you can do what I do… Go in, guns blazing and laying waste to anything which as much as quivers.

Another major difference you’ll see is the realism in the game. Lara doesn’t twist and flip around like a Russian gymnast anymore. You can’t perform backflips nor jump all over the place. The auto – aim is also out, so the good old days of watching her hands spin about killing enemies are over. It’s refreshing to aim at will and kill enemies at your own pace. As you progress through the game, you’ll begin to discover different ways to kill enemies and how different methods can help you progress quicker and without using too many resources.

Square Enix took a brave decision to reboot Tomb Raider. Instead of continuing the theme of exploring exotic locations, a grittier story takes us back to a time when a younger Lara Croft is shipwrecked on Yamatai, an island close to Japan. When she wakes up, she finds herself trapped in a tribal cave and she escapes, only to find that her friends are scattered over the island inhabited by a cult. Although the game is focused on survival, there is a touch of exploration as Lara uncovers the mysteries of the island and its fascinating history.

As Lara explores the island and picks up items and completes quests, she picks up experience points, and with those, you can upgrade her skills. Gamers who prefer to fight it out for resources can upgrade her combat skills, and those players who like to explore their surroundings for resources can upgrade her survival skills. This customisability adds another layer to the gameplay, allowing you to play the game as you wish to.

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Multiplayer is completely new to Tomb Raider, and now I see why… Multiplayer introduces Lara Croft’s shipmates and friends as playable characters. There are numerous modes include Team Deathmatch, Free for All, Private Rescue, and Cry For Help. The first mode is self explanatory, and the other two modes are slightly tweaked versions of capture the flag style modes.

Although multiplayer does sound exciting, it’s very similar to Call of Duty or any other FPS game, but simply nowhere near polished enough. By opting for competitive multiplayer, the game loses its appeal of adventure and discovery. Overall, multiplayer doesn’t feel like a natural addition to the game, and it wouldn’t have made a difference if it wasn’t included. Perhaps it would have been better to include a cooperative mode, where players help each other to progress through the maps. Now that would have been amazing.

By the way, when it comes to Multiplayer, keep in mind that the Steam version of the game is Steam-Play enabled and is the only version to support online multiplayer (Mac to Mac).

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If there’s one thing Square Enix has perfected, is the presentation. The focus has been shifted away from Lara Croft and put back into the game itself. In Tomb Raider: Underworld, Lara Croft was arguably one of the most attractive characters to have ever been featured in a game. To put it bluntly, the success of a Tomb Raider game heavily depended upon how heavily Lara Croft was objectified.

Lara Croft is no longer a sex symbol. She is an adventurer who simply happens to be pretty. It was imperative that they lifted the focus away from Lara, and now this will allow the game to grow further and shine on its own.

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The backgrounds are beautifully detailed and the surround sound is very accurate as well. The immersion is sensational. Even when you turn the graphic settings all the way down, the game is still impressive. The dark, gritty, and hellish atmosphere is bought out perfectly and the music is a perfect fit. Shipwrecked boats, airplanes, ancient structures, and abandoned camps full of strange tribal markings are among the various elements that bring out the eerie and forsaken nature of the island.

 

Mac Performance

Feral did a beautiful job with this port. Tomb Raider is one of the most beautiful looking games on Mac to date. The game makes full use of the new visual features found with an OpenGL 4.1 update in Mavericks and includes almost all the bells and whistles from the Windows version (except the hair-rendering TressFX).

Tomb Raider is a demanding game, but it never feels that way. The frame rate was consistent and super smooth even though I had iTunes running in the background, and my Mac barely meets the minimum system requirements. Even though I ran it on higher settings than recommended, there weren’t any issues.

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However, it did crash a couple of times, and the audio would stutter as well. Another odd problem, or glitch I faced now and again was when Lara got shot, and died, the game would fast forward to the next part of the story, without me having to play that level. Either this is a glitch, or the game trying to help terrible players progress through the game. Very strange indeed.

My MacBook Pro 13” specs:

  • OS: Mac OS X 10.9.2 Mavericks
  • Processor: Intel i7 2.9 Ghz
  • Graphics Card: Intel HD 4000
  • RAM: 8 GB

Minimum system requirements:

  • OS:OS X 10.9.1 Mavericks
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz
  • Memory: 4GB Memory
  • Graphics: 512 MB*
  • Hard Drive: 14 GB HD space
  • Other RequirementsThe following graphics cards are not supported: ATI X1xxx series, ATI HD2xxx series, Intel GMA series, Intel HD3000, NVIDIA 7xxx series, NVIDIA 8xxx series, NVIDIA 9xxx series and NVIDIA 3xx series.

 

Verdict

The Good

  • Creative Gameplay
  • Focus shifted to game, rather than Lara Croft
  • Maps well designed

The Bad

  • Irregular performance
  • Multiplayer ill-conceived

Final Word

Tomb Raider has finally matured under Square Enix, and they’ve done a fantastic job. It is addicting, immersive, and above all, fun. Lara Croft is no longer the sex symbol driving the appeal of the game anymore. Even if Lara Croft was removed from the game, it would still stand out. And that, is high praise.

You can get it from the Mac App Store:

[appstore id=625206080 price=39.99]​