Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tomb Raider: A Multiplayer Review In Progress


Tomb Raider Multiplayer

After spending several hours playing, trying every game mode, and learning each map well, I can safely say Tomb Raider's multiplayer is a mess. An absolute mess. Having a trophy attached to "prestige" counter really sends the nail into the coffin. To be fair, there is hope to be salvaged.

Sometime in the future, if the developers decide to properly support the game with patches and downloadable content, it may be worthwhile. Sadly I feel this best case scenario will be fruitless. Now is the time to snare people into the online mode. A successful and healthy user base is in the hundred of thousands, not tens or less. I am reminded of playing Army of Two: The 40th Day's multiplayer many months after it's release. The amount of people online barely reached the triple digits.

This is the fear of tacked on gameplay. I predict it most likely the multiplayer was brought in a few months ago by a corporate order. The fact that the enitre mode is not made by Crystal Dynamics, but instead by Eidos Montreal solidifies the hunch. Uncharted is the easiest example to point out and it has 500,000 log in on a good month. Tomb Raider thankfully avoids Uncharted's online pitfalls by not having a required online pass and no randomized treasure drop system, although I fear the numbers will never meet.

Gameplay can be enjoyable from time to time. Traps are the high point missing from even the single-player campaign and helps separate it from the pack. Setting up ropes, crushing spike walls, and pressure mines invigorate old match types. Hanging upside down trying to shoot my captor before they shoot me is phenomenally cool. Sniping with a bow in a hill top helps break the monotonous drone of bullets in the air. Tomb Raider even encourages traversal with the wall climbing pickaxe, allowing players to find nooks to discover. A solid foundation is here, but the problems mar the entire experience.

Drop in drop out matches are nonexistent. When players leave after one round any mode that is not Free For All becomes horribly unbalanced. I've been on the receiving and giving end of unwinnable situations. There exists no shame in leaving a game in hopes of finding a full lobby. Matchmaking and the party system are broken completely. Good luck outside of private games. Matches can take several minutes to start up, making the Quick Match option purposeless. As a launch gamer, where the online player count should be at it's highest, the whole thing feels empty.

The salt in the wound comes to the trophy for collecting every character model. Not a big deal, until realizing one character requires the player to complete the online three times. Level one to sixty. Three times. With five maps.

I truly don't want to be sour on this point, but it is what it is. In the months to come DLC and patches may turn my judgement around. At this point in time, play Uncharted 3 instead for the online third person shooter fix. On a brighter note my impressions of the campaign far surpass this undesirable wreck.