For the last few years, whenever you’ve wanted an ancient artifact recovered, or a dastardly world-ending scheme prevented, Nathan Drake has been your man on speed dial. And he’s had a good run which will inevitably continue in the next generation of gaming consoles. But there was one before him; one who could do everything he did but with certain style. She’s been absent for a considerable time, and her last fully-fledged game was somewhat of a disappointment both critically and commercially, but Lara Croft is back–and she means business. Tomb Raider is not only a great rebirth of one of gaming’s most famous heroines but also the start of something that’s sure to be a kick-ass new iteration for Ms Croft.
Tomb Raider takes Lara Croft right back to her foundations, before the tomb raiding became a profession, and before she felt able to hurl wisecracks at her enemies while fighting them to the death. After sailing the seas with a reality TV crew looking for the infamous Yamatai–an old Japanese island said to house the Sun Queen Himiko–and being stranded on the hostile land they were searching for, Lara begins her journey into becoming the legend we all know her as, and it rarely fails to leave the appropriate impact.
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I’ve loved Tomb Raider for as long as I can remember. In fact, playing the games of old back in the Playstation 1 era took place right at the beginning of my gaming days and the franchise has been around since then. But it’s no secret that after the previous series reboot of sorts–with Legend back in 2006–the series started becoming stale, with repetitive mechanics, average stories and an overall feeling that the franchise had had its day. However, I always thought that the explosion in popularity for the Uncharted series meant that if the series could find a way to revitalise itself, it could share the same slice of the market as the aforementioned franchise. It took a while, but it happened.
Tomb Raider isn’t like the old games in the series. If you expect it to be, you’ll be surprised and probably disappointed. What it is, however, is a hugely entertaining and incredibly well-refined mixture of strong story-telling with a terrific character arc for Lara Croft. Yes, it takes inspiration from the Uncharted series but there’s no reason why both cannot exist in the same universe and when a game like this is produced, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only is Tomb Raider back but it’s back fighting for what it once had, and Nathan Drake had better watch out.