Reboot that is.
And what a reboot it is. I won't lie, I've been feeling rather disillusioned with Lara in recent years. Along with the hype around her status as a role model for young girls as a strong female protagonist, also circled the controversy around her continually varied cup size and the voyeuristic positioning of the viewer's camera.
I'm over it. I was interested in the topic 5 years ago, but in 2013? I really want to move on to something else.
And is, even though the trailers looked AMAZING, it was with trepidation that I approached Tomb Raider 2013.
This Lara however, is not the Lara of old. First things first, the story is set before she became the tomb raiding, gun toting bad ass that she is in the previous games. This is an origin story, an exploration of the events that made Lara who she is, that hardened her to the adventure game, and that shaped her attitude and will to survive.
This is Lara weak, and vulnerable, and almost anyone who plays this game, male or female will relate to her on so many levels.
Tomb Raider is beautifully cinematic, the character design is expertly handled, the narrative is well thought out and plotted, and the game mechanics handle well. The levels are open ended, but not directionless, which means you're given freedom to explore, in fact you're encouraged to do so, but there is always an underlying sense of urgency that sends you back to the story. The quicktime events, so popular in contemporary games of this genre, are at times annoying, but I can't complain about how they're handled, mine is an irritation born out of a dislike of the mechanism as opposed to shoddy implementation in this case.
I haven't played the multiplayer aspect of this game yet, so at this point in time I'm going to focus simply on the single player campaign.
As a quick rundown, Lara begins her journey as she sets out as part of an expedition on a ship called the Endurance, with the intention of finding the lost kingdom of Yamatai and bringing back some rare artefacts. The island, situated in the Dragon's Triangle, is of course shrouded in mystery, and when the ship the crew are on is struck by a violent storm and they are all marooned on the island, strange events begin to occur.
Of course, they have discovered the lost kingdom they were in search of, and when Lara is separated from the others, she must find her way back to them, and uncover the secrets of the island while negotiating the strange things the island has to offer, including ritual sacrifice, strange carvings and dead bodies that typically turn up all over the place.
Visually this game is gritty and far less stylised than the earlier Lara games. It has a much more realistic feel to it, and this is carried through not only to the visuals, but also to the rather more graphic and real violence in the game. It never comes off as gratuitous or obscene in any way however, but the wounds and accompanying blood are certainly more than we're used to in the Tomb Raider franchise.
In order to become really effective in combat, you need to continually upgrade your weapons and skills, as this is vital in both head on combat situations as well as stealth. Luckily you can often choose how you wish to handle a situation, and going from stealth to aggressive combat in completely down to choice.
We often make the comparison between Uncharted and Tomb Raider, and never has it been more evident. It seems Crystal Dynamics has learned some lessons from Naughty Dog and taken them a step further in their implementation here. I'm finally interested to see what happens next.
A must buy.