The Ninjabot

Playing Catch Up – Tomb Raider

Posted on May 29, 2013 at 11:22 pm by Stephen Janes

Lara Croft Shooting an Arrow

‘Playing Catch Up’ is a featured look at games that have already passed their window of relativity. Contributing writer Stephen Janes attempts to wade through various games already with an idea of what to expect, based on the public reviews and game play videos that have been released and viewed. This series aims to be entertaining, yet informative in a sense.

Ever since Eidos Interactive introduced the gaming world to Lara Croft, everybody fell in love with the tomb-raiding heroine. Although the franchise is most notable for being one of few to feature a female lead in a video game, the franchise has been successful with its intriguing storylines and adventurous gameplay. Lara Croft has graced the cover of video games, movies, comic books and even a roller coaster at one point. Up until recently, the only generation that was missing out on Lara’s adventures was the current generation of consoles.

The new iteration of Tomb Raider was designed to be a reboot of the franchise. Essentially being an origins story of a young Lara Croft, the game was intended to usher in a new audience of Croft fans but also appeal to the followers of yesterday. A lot of my friends ask me how the game is and what are my thoughts, and the simplest way I can describe it is, “It’s like Uncharted with a Lara Croft mod, but that’s a good thing.”

The more I played Tomb Raider the more I kept saying to myself, “hey this looks like a situation Nathan Drake would get himself into, minus the witty humor.” The linear adventure style and combat all draw comparisons to Naughty Dog’s favorite adventurer, but Lara Croft still manages to engross the gamer in her own adventure. Although the plot line felt like it was ridiculously borrowed from ‘Lost,’ seeing Lara Croft progress from timid and defensive to confident and almost vengeful is a development very well done by the developers.

I have a hard time defining the best element of the new Tomb Raider game. On one hand, the exploration and sense of adventure was fantastically compiled with beautiful visuals and defining graphics. On the other hand, the fluid way one navigates Lara Croft is a feat not often accomplished in adventure games. Zip-lining, rock climbing, tomb raiding and even hunting all feel natural in the game and don’t hinder the gamers progression at all.

One aspect the developers nailed perfectly was the innocence and protection of Lara Croft. Because you play as a young Croft, the gamer feels obligated to take the safest route possible and not rush headfirst into any situation. In addition, I have never cringed so much at death animations and felt so bad for Lara’s pending demise in certain situations. Part of this is aided by the voice acting of Camilla Ludington (Grey’s Anatomy, True Blood), while the rest of the emotion is garnered by the fact that you led a young woman to her brutal and agonizing death.

Geek Legacy’s own Justin Cavender wrote a great review on this game and only briefly touched on the emotion and sentiment one feels for Lara Croft. Every injury she endures, every obstacle she faces is a learning experience for her and the player. In the original Tomb Raider games, the name Lara Croft was already established before the player picked up a controller. Now, we get to experience what made Lara Croft the buxom badass that everybody knows her as. I have played a number of good and great games this year, but I firmly believe Tomb Raider will be considered for Game of the Year come award season for its emotional involvement, great visuals and solid gameplay.

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