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Tomb Raider: Reloaded review – a diamond in the rough

In our Tomb Raider: Reloaded review, we look at what makes the mobile game good for Tomb Raider fans, and why janky controls let it down

Tomb Raider Reloaded - Lara diving through the air aiming her guns

Our Verdict

Tomb Raider: Reloaded has much potential thanks to featuring a videogame legend, but janky controls that suffer from sluggishness and delays ensure it’s not a smooth experience

Not only is Tomb Raider one of the most iconic videogame series of all time, but Lara Croft herself is a popular and recognisable fictional character. Furthermore, does she boast a successful line of games with a legacy that spans more than 26 years, but also has numerous appearances in movies and other forms of media. Thanks to her, we have the likes of Nathan Drake. Tomb Raider’s influence continues to be felt today. That’s why it’s hardly a surprise that there’s a new mobile game.

Sure, I understand that many of you are keener to discover what’s next for Lara after the conclusion of the survivor trilogy – Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider – but Tomb Raider: Reloaded is here to at least allow you to dive back into some caves, tombs, and action.

Even better news for longtime fans is that Croft has her dual pistols. That’s right, the signature weapons missing from the survivor trilogy are once again present, and I, for one, am so happy about this. It’s a small detail that makes a difference to me, because, while I can concede and understand their absence in the recent line of mainstream games, I also miss them and the feeling of badassery that they bring.

As you can probably guess, Tomb Raider: Reloaded is full of tombs for you to explore, though it’s not exactly a friendly stroll through the park on a sunday morning. You see, these dark and dismal places usually feature an array of traps where one wrong move means you meet your demise.

Tomb Raider Reloaded review - Lara hiding from a dinosaur

But you’re Lara Croft, tomb-raiding extraordinaire, a woman that never backs down from a challenge. Luckily, that means you can put her acrobatic prowess to good use as you manoeuvre around the tomb, avoiding boulders. Don’t worry. I’m sure Indie will drop by at some point. Of course, there are more things to consider than just avoiding boulders. You get to put those iconic pistols to good use.

Throughout the various stages in the tombs that you visit, you come across an array of enemies. Some are exactly what you expect to see in such a place, such as spiders and snakes, while others are reminiscent of previous foes to cross Lara throughout her adventures. One example of this is the wolves – we all remember the opening cinematic from Tomb Raider 1996.

When it comes to the gameplay itself, you need to run through different stages in various levels, the majority look the same, but there’s usually a slight difference from room to room. In order to defeat those that oppose you, you need to stop still and Lara then shoots automatically. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of this, as I’m essentially a sitting duck as enemies can shoot projectiles, and given these clunky controls, combat feels like a bit of a mess.

Tomb Raider Reloaded review - in-game screenshots

However, I can certainly appreciate the roguelike direction that Emerald City Games chose to take in certain areas, as you can only succeed on your quest through failure. In time, you can upgrade your gear, unlock new costumes, and give yourself a better chance of overcoming adversity. On paper, it feels like a great place to take Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider series.

As much as it hurts me to say it, I find Tomb Raider: Reloaded to be underwhelming in a variety of ways. The essence of the series is there, but there are only so many times you can run through stages of tombs with mediocre controls and samey environments without the realm of boredom enrapturing you.

Admittedly, the opportunity to use various abilities is fun and adds a different dynamic, but given this is a common feature in videogames as a whole and not just mobile games, I can’t say that this is an innovative or unique prospect that offers further credit to the game. Still, the rebound and smite abilities are great, as they cause bullets to shoot off walls and give a chance to get one-shot kills, respectively.

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While I can safely say that the game does have some fun qualities, and that Tomb Raider: Reloaded looks visually appealing, the controls are stiff, which results in sluggish movements with a slight delay. This isn’t exactly great when you consider that you need to avoid boulders, enemies, position yourself for shots, and just make basic movements. To be honest, this is what truly disappoints me about the game.

I enjoy the roguelike elements and progression in a first for the series, and I can see the promise and potential in what I’m sure is a mobile game set to get a lot of updates with fresh content. But, as it stands, it’s tough to enjoy a game where the controls feel this sub-par. However, I have access to the pre-release version of the game, so perhaps the controls feel better upon release. Even if they don’t, this is an easy fix that I hope becomes a priority for Emerald City Games.

On the whole, I can appreciate the direction of Tomb Raider: Reloaded. Lara Croft is one of the most recognisable videogame characters of all time. Frankly, it’s about time she has a mobile title of this degree to her name. While there are clearly some areas to iron out, the roguelike elements work well in a series known for its platforming, and there’s potential should future updates provide fresh content.

For more great games, check out our best mobile RPGs list.