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iPad Game Review: Lara Croft GO Review
      #48658 - 10/06/15 07:03 PM

A One-Of-A-Kind Turn-Based Puzzle Platformer

When Square Enix unleashed Hitman Go on the App Store, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth because it wasn't a proper Hitman game. The nerd rage quickly subsided, however, once we started playing it. We quickly learned that not only was it stylish, innovative, and fun, but also remained fully faithful to the Hitman universe; and was far more suitable for a mobile device than any 1st or 3rd person action game would ever be. It remains one of the few times in recent memory when a developer was more in-tune with what we actually wanted in a game vs. what we thought we wanted. So along comes Lara Croft GO, and instead of reading tear-soaked words of rage on the community forums, I'm instead treated to threads filled with steely-eyed dismissals of how it's just a re-skinning of Hitman GO, and that they will pass. Folks, I'm happy to report that once again, the internets are wrong.

Lara Croft GO is a genre-defying game. In fact, if I were to try to categorize it, I would call it a turn-based puzzle Platformer, of which there is exactly one, (including this one). Gameplay consists of moving Lara on pre-determined paths, one step at a time. This is where the similarity with Hitman GO ends. It starts simply enough with clear objectives and a single path through what feels like a wonderfully sneaky tutorial more than anything else. Swipe to move and tap to collect treasure (more on this later). The controls work perfectly, except inexplicably at the menu, which often had me tapping multiple times to make selections. You will soon be facing 75 levels over 5 chapters; each with multiple branching paths. You will be required to ascend/descend, wall-crawl, flip switches, navigate sections that can only be traversed once, and face many other obstacles and traps. As previously noted, there are also treasures to collect, which are stupidly obvious at first, but will require you to really explore the board and visually search every corner if you want to get them all. Who am I kidding? You know you want to get them all.

When one thinks turn-based, lush visuals don't often spring to mind. Lara Croft GO will change all that. It's a beautiful game, but not in an over-the top seizure-inducing 3D way. Everything is hand-drawn with animation as smooth as silk. The game is crisp, razor sharp, even; and looks particularly sweet on my iPhone 6 Plus with all those pixels packed so close together. The sound effects and music round out the experience nicely and really serve to draw you into the game; no small feat for a one-step-at-a-time turn-based affair.

Somebody at Square Enix knows what they're doing. Like the excellent Hitman GO before it, Lara Croft GO defies trends and standard gaming conventions. It takes an established game license and turns it on its ear, with truly innovative gameplay. Personally, I love the Lara Croft universe with the treasure/monster filled jungle labyrinths, and crafty puzzles. Unfortunately for me, I'm not much of a reflex gamer so I never really enjoyed the series. Lara Croft GO closes the gap nicely for me because I can enjoy the same devious exploration puzzles without watching Lara plummet to her death for the umpteenth time because I can't make the jump. Further, it's original, stylish, and quite cerebral. It is absolutely perfect for a quick session while sitting on public transportation or waiting in line. Easy to play for minutes or hours. Highly recommended.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: - 5 - Crisp hand-drawn art that really captures the menacing beauty of a jungle death maze. Or so I've heard.
Sound: - 5 - Fantastic yet understated sound effects and great music.
Controls: - 5 - Swipe to move, tap to collect treasure. A chimp could do it.
Gameplay: - 5 - 75 levels of puzzley goodness that will draw you in time and again.

Playing Hints and Tips:

Explore, experiment, have fun. There is no penalty for restarting a level. Scan your environment after every move for artifacts and treasures. They will move into and out of view as you progress through the level so resist tunnel vision.

App Facts:

Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: August 26, 2015
Price: $4.99
Buy App: Lara Croft GO

Reviewed by Tom Slayton


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