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'Tomb Raider' reboot a modern classic
Mar 22, 2013
By John Powell - G4 Canada
If you didn't realize it before, when an evil islander spits at captured Lara Croft: "Don't you f-----g move!" you know something is very different about the latest instalment in the 'Tomb Raider' franchise.
Developed by Crystal Dynamics and simply entitled 'Tomb Raider', the game re-introduces us to the exploits of archaeologist turned adventurer: Lara Croft.
Considering Croft is one of the seminal video game characters of all time, the move is a very dicey one. As it turns out, returning Croft to her roots and reimagining her personality and overall tone has worked wonders bringing more emotion and a missing edge.
The Lara Croft we play here is not the carefree sharp-tongued, sure-footed, clever buxom aristocrat exuding unrelenting confidence and poise in even the most perilous of situations. On her first ever expedition, she is a determined but inexperienced young woman who has never had to kill to save her own life much less survive in the isolated jungles of a lost, ancient island. At times, she is frightened and scared. She is shocked and appalled at the depravity of her enemies and the savage world around her.
Although the charismatic super-heroine Angelina Jolie portrays on the big screen is fun to watch, this new Lara Croft seems more real, more human, more believable in every way; which makes her struggle to survive all the more gripping.
In keeping with the initial origin, Lara is marooned but not by an airplane crash instead a violent storm destroys the ship she, her friends and crewmates are on. Uncovering a primative cult while also coming face to face with dangerous jungle wildlife and treacherous terrain all around her, Lara spends the rest of the game trying to locate and rescue as many survivors as she can. To do so, Lara aquires survivor points to improve her skills and combat capabilities as well as collecting "salvage" to create, enhance weapons and items at her disposal.
In accordance with the whole survivor aspect, Lara starts off the game with very little in terms of equipment or weapons. She does pick up a bow, (which introduces stealth kills) but her hand-to-hand combat is limited to pushes until she obtains a hand-axe. This can be galling when baddies charge you as your only option is to put distance between yourself and them or if you are lucky enough to have a cliff-face nearby, shove them over.
An intense cinematic experience with some of the best cut-scenes ever produced, 'Tomb Raider' is more about action than puzzle solving. Even the actual tomb raiding aspect, the former calling card of the series, is now completely optional. You will come across ancient tombs to explore but it is totally up to you if you wish to solve the environmental puzzles presented to score some treasures or not.
We are only three months into 2013 and Crystal Dynamics has really set the bar high. Gamers will struggle to find a better looking and more cohesive title. The cut-scenes are of cinematic quality and the story is concise yet very moving at times. One insane action scene has you swept up in a raging river, falling down a waterfall, landing in the cockpit of crashed plane, throwing on a parachute as the cockpit glass breaks beneath you, pulling the cord on the chute so you can float and dodge your way through tree tops before landing back on the ground. Whew!
To top it all off, the baddies aren't chivalrous at all. They don't take it easy on our hero so be prepared for some adult or mature confrontations. 'Tomb Raider' is definitely not for the wee ones as some of the other chapters in the saga were.
The reason why 'Tomb Raider' as a franchise fell out of favour with gamers is because the gameplay didn't match the times. Nowadays, most gamers are not willing to spend 20 minutes completing one tricky jump sequence or solving one puzzle. Many forms of media are vying for their attention, as well as many other games. They are willing to face difficult challenges but want to feel like they are always moving ahead, not stuck in an insurmountable rut. 'Tomb Raider' had no choice but to evolve beyond being a puzzle game with some action elements. It had no choice but to appeal to a more mature audience and therefore it only made sense to mature Lara Croft from a sassy sex symbol into a fully-developed character.
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