Tomb Raider – Lara Is BackMarch 16, 2013
Lara is back, and she is taking no prisoners.
I was 11 when I first opened a page of a PC Gamer magazine and saw the article featuring the brunette with the twin pistols secretly saying “buy me”. Within a very short time and a trip to a local Costco, I picked myself up a copy of Tomb Raider for PC. This was one of my very first introductions to PC gaming at this level outside of the countless hours of Tie Fighter and DOOM I had logged within the previous years. I played this game all the way through, from cutting down wolves and bears, to eventually eradicating mutants in Atlantis. Since that point Tomb Raider has had sequels, movies, and worldwide success. When I heard that a new reboot was being done by SQUARE ENIX and Crystal Dynamics, I was skeptical. The world has had plenty of Lara Croft over the past decade and a half, and looking at the history of most reboots I was not going to expect much.
Soon after the news of the reboot, information stated to pour in. Lara had a new look, no more top heavy, short shorted adventurer, but now a fit 20 something girl that you could actually imagine being a real person. This Lara was modeled and voiced by the amazing Camilla Luddington (True Blood, Grey’s Anatomy). Not only the body was modeled, but Camilla also donned the motion capture suit in order to act out every jump, punch and fall Lara would take. The gameplay footage that was released looked like a mix of Uncharted combat and Assassins Creed stealth. Soon enough my skepticism turned into excitement.
On March 5th, 2013 I picked up the new Tomb Raider game for PC, and dove right in. The game takes place with a young, slightly less experienced version of Lara Croft than we are used to. She is a little more naive, reckless, and fresh to things going very bad very fast. She is on the search for the lost Japanese ruins of Yamatai and the burial place of Queen Himiko, and what better place to look for it than the Dragon’s Triangle known for extreme storms and shipwrecks. On the way to the island, your ship does get wrecked in a storm, and you are left to fend for yourself on the island with literally nothing at all. From that point you learn how to control Lara in this new environment, from using bows, to hunting and skinning animals for supplies, as well as upgrading the weapons you find to help you survive.
This game handles very well, the control are easy to get used to and the enemy AI is nothing to mess with. The wolves that you were used to dispatching in the original games are no joke at all, and the henchmen seem to like to fall from the sky at you with machetes, so watch out. There is ranged combat that allows multiple uses of the bow and guns, and once you gain experience you can develop some melee combat skills with your ice pick. There is still a large puzzle dynamic to this game as well that was carried over into this game. Such things as using the wind to propel yourself to higher platforms, using fire to burn sections of the area to gain access to treasure, and looking for ways to use items in the environment to help Lara move to the next section of the game.
This game is just what the franchise needed, it’s a raw approach to an old character that works very well. It’s easier to identify with Lara this time around due to the realistic approach to her character and the great voice acting by Camilla Luddington and the rest of the cast. This game for me ranks up there with Uncharted as far as the adventure genre is concerned, and I would love to see this keep going for another game or two so we can see where Lara goes next.