Tomb Raider

In the world history of video games, it is predominantly common for the protagonist to be male.  The Super Mario Brothers (no explanation needed), Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell), Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid), Billy and Jimmy Lee (Double Dragon), Nathan Drake (Uncharted), and the list goes on and on.  Few exceptions to the rule are Samus (Metroid) and Ms. Pac-Man.  Female protagonists in video games were all turned on its head in 1996 when a sexy British female character named Lara Croft “busted” into the scene.

Tomb-Raider-2013-621x350Lara Croft is essentially an Indiana Jones type; an ambitious archeologist out to uncover the wonders of the ancient world.  Her previous games from previous consoles all involved Lara already at her physical and mental peak.

In this new installment however, we take a huge step back and we’re introduced to a younger Lara for the first time and take part in her origin story.

Tomb Raider opens with a 21-year old Lara in search of a fabled island that may or may not exist and a lost civilization that may or may not have lived there.  When a shipwreck leaves her and the survivors on that island, it’s up to Lara to uncover its mysteries and figure out a way off the island.

This game is a masterpiece!!  The story should be re-shot frame-for-frame and you’d  have an amazing movie trilogy. The casting of newcomer Camilla Luddington as Lara was a brilliant move made by developers.  Originally produced by Eidos Interactive (now known as Square Enix), but now Crystal Dynamics has boldly taken the reigns that tells a story of intrigue, twists and turns, mystery, and flawed characters.  This game was shot in the same way as Avatar; in a sound stage with real actors wearing motion-capture suits.

This reinvention is the first game in its franchise to be given an M-Rating and deservingly so.  Aside from the very harsh dialogue and emotionally-driven story full of loss and tragedy, Lara’s deaths are not left to the imagination because it shows it all in very unapologetic and graphic fashion.

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The developers also did an amazing job putting you on that island with Lara and the crew (which play vital roles in the development of the story.)  If you’re squeezing between rocks or in five and a half feet of water, the camera perspective and character reactions put you there with her.  I actually felt moments of claustrophobia in certain points of the game.  But when you find a hidden item or are able to do a weapon upgrade, you feel just as accomplished as Lara does when she finds a new relic in a hidden tomb.

Much like I mentioned in my Assassin’s Creed II review, Tomb Raider is filled with side missions, optional upgrades, hidden journals, secret tombs, and more to discover.  You could technically go through the whole game without pursuing any of these things, but you would miss out on more than half of the potential of the game as well as get a much richer and rewarding story from it.

If after you beat the game and you still have secrets to find, you can continue with all the upgrades and whatever you did find when you beat the game and go from there to get all the satisfaction and Achievement Points you can handle.  Destined (if not already) to be one of the most successful titles this year, Tomb Raider is an amazing game and it has just been revealed that a sequel is already in the works!!

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