Reboots. The very thought of them makes me nervous simply because there is no outcome that can be reached but one that isn’t an extreme. You either have one like what Bethesda made out of Fallout 3, which made an incredible leap in the progression of both the gameplay and cinematic style of the franchise. Or, you get something along the lines of Duke Nukem Forever, which basically slapped everyone who held out hope for the iconic franchise right in the face. There is no in between. Because of that idea, I was mortified when the Tomb Raider reboot was announced. My first: “No. I refuse to let you defile the sexiest gaming character in the history of the world.” But, like anybody else in that boat, I had to give it a shot. I had to hold out on the slim chance that it could turn out on the better side of the spectrum.

And it did.

The first impression you get of Lara Croft is very different from what tradition tells us. She is young and naïve, eager to get another innocent adventure under her belt (not that she has many to this point). Of course, it didn't take long for the story to shed the harmonious aura around it and plunge Lara and her friends deep into a situation that forces them into one choice: survive or die. This was done in a way that was extremely player friendly. That opening cinematic wasn't on the lengthy side, sending us into a dire situation to help Lara out of very quickly.

From then on, every twist and turn in what was presumed to be Lara first big adventure was one that brought on some sort of possible outcome that was extremely gruesome and not so healthy in Lara’s regard, from have a rock climbing pick lodged in her sternum to being impaled by a metal rod through her chin while being carried away by rushing rapids. Although I would have to play it over again in order to progress, at times I found myself voluntarily missing a jump or intentionally missing a prompted button-press just to see how creative the developers had gotten in that particular instance. Call me crazy or disturbed, but Square Enix took some serious time in crafting the multitude of demises of the great Lara Croft in this installment.

This game differed from its ancestors in a lot of ways. Particularly, this one felt a lot like an RPG, with its skill tree builds and open world atmosphere. Although the main storyline could be completed in somewhere between 10 and 12 hours, there is still a lot of Tomb Raider to play, with hidden tombs, challenges, and collectibles scattered throughout the world for your enjoyment. So for all you gamers out there who are so OCD that you can’t stand to depart from a game without that 100% next to your save file, set some SERIOUS time aside for Tomb Raider. You’re gonna need it.

Tomb Raider, much like Farcry 3, was driven by emotion. It explored that idea of morphing from innocent victim to hardened survivor in order to continue to exist, and that was beautifully portrayed by the vocal cast. Leading that cast was the beautiful Camilla Luddington (True Blood, Greys Anatomy), whom Lara Croft resembled physically as well. There was a natural sense of panic that was brought forth through Luddington’s work that allowed us to care for everything Lara cared about. It was extremely organic and realistic, and, in my opinion, one of the best performances of the year thus far. Among the rest of the cast were video game veterans Robin Atkin Downes (Bioshock Infinite, Assassins Creed III) and Kristof Konrad (Metal of Honor: Warfighter, Call of Duty: Black Ops).

Needless to say, my nerves were calmed by the latest installment in the Tomb Raider franchise, and I am extremely open to this version of Lara Croft and any endeavor that Square Enix decides to throw her way. She’s tough, hott, a deadly shot with those dual-45’s, and she’s not going anywhere for a long time.

Lara Croft is back.


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