To quote Lady Croft herself, “I can do this…”
TL;DR verdict? “Tomb Raider” is a fantastic game. Buy with confidence.
Whether or not Lara Croft‘s latest Crystal Dynamics game is a true entry in the series or such a departure that it constitutes an adjunct spin-off is worthy of further discussion, but the title stands on its own.
It’s a little too early to start shouting about ‘game of the year’ considerations but this latest Lara adventure is a cinematic adventure of such quality that it rivals generation-defining PS3 titan “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” for sheer thrills, visual splendour and storytelling. Given that the second Nathan Drake game is probably in my top two games of this generation, that’s no small complement. I’d hope to see this title get it’s due come the end of the year, but I suspect that “Bioshock: Infinite” has game of 2013 all wrapped up unless the shipped product has been somehow inadvertently swapped out in the disc-pressing stage for a tie-in “Smurfs” shovelware effort.
Having listened to this week’s episode of the “Weekend Confirmed” podcast, I know that redoubtable host Garnett Lee will disagree in particular with my estimation of the story, and he’s entitled to feel misgivings towards it, but I really feel that this tougher survival story achieves the difficult balance of giving equal importance to character and plotting, pitching a younger Lara Croft through the proverbial mill whilst sketching out some of the elements of her persona in a way which should please long-term fans and players who’ve never picked up a “Tomb Raider” game before.
No game is perfect and often bears the hallmarks of influence . This game at least has the taste to be influenced by really good stuff. As well as the aforementioned Naughty Dog‘s awesome PS3 adventure series, you can pick out gameplay mechanics popularised by Rock Steady’s “Batman”games (Lara has a ‘detective vision’-like ‘survival instinct’ which highlights useful equipment and environmental tools), a gear and skills upgrading system which recalls latter-day “Call of Duty” multi-player perks and the foreboding dread of classic survival horror title “Resident Evil 4” as well as a scene in a charnel pit which is right out of Neil Marshall‘s magnificent horror film, “The Descent”.
The gore and combat can get a little overwrought, it’s true, and might put off some long-time fans who’ve felt that Lara is better when she’s exploring and traversing than when she’s sneaking up on some misogynist cult member and sticking arrows in his gullet but I see this as a real step forward for the character and a tantalising glimpse at what Crystal Dynamics might do with next-gen hardware – the PS3 version that I’ve been playing is utterly beautiful to behold.
Lara’s next game (and the inevitable “Uncharted 4”) might just be the reasons that I pick up a PlayStation 4.
Look busy, Dinosaurs and other endangered species – Lara Croft‘s back…
It’s been a few years since Crystal Dynamics‘ last Lara adventure and this eagerly anticipated new game constitutes a reboot of sorts for the aristocratic Burial Ground Botherer, taking her in a direction which can only be described as a post-“Uncharted” action adventure (though, ironically enough, the PS3‘s favourite action hero lead Nathan Drake‘s first game was dubbed ‘Dude Raider’ by less-than-impressed initial observers).
I’ve been following the game’s progress via the ‘Final Hours Of…’ web series fronted by “Chuck” star, Zachary Levi, and feel confident that this game will deliver a different Lara experience – one which is perhaps best placed to deliver on the series’ potential with the horsepower that developers can wrestle from the Xbox 360 and PS3 this late in the current gaming generations life cycle. I really enjoyed the last Lara outing – “Tomb Raider: Underworld” – but felt that it really needed to look at the combat mechanics (the pistol lock-on in the game still causes me to shudder involuntarily from time to time…). And I was wholly sold on Keeley Hawes‘s voice-over work, so it remains to be seen if new incumbent, Camilla Luddington, brings much more to the character than a splendidly posh name.
Oh, the hilarity of mo-cap suits, eh, Camilla?
Somebody must like what Crystal Dynamics are doing – producer Graham King‘s GK Productions indicate that this new game’s direction and storyline might yet be the jumping-off point for the equally anticipated movie franchise reboot. As somebody who really liked the Angelina Jolie flicks, I’m sure that the time has come to give Lara a new outing – though who would play the world’s foremost tiger-punching, archaeological grave robber is anyone’s guess…
Filed under Gaming, Geekery
How hard can it be to get this character right?
You have to wonder about Hollywood’s thought processes sometimes.
Take a character like Lara Croft. Made for the big screen, you would think. An adventuress with no greater character arc than leaping about all over the place, making endangered beasts extinct and globe-trotting like she’s out of that “Made in Chelsea” dross on TV.
And what have the movies made from her “Tomb Raider” games managed to do? They’ve made her into a total dullard. It takes a peculiar kind of talent to make Angelina Jolie in tiny shorts dull, but boy – Hollywood managed that feat in two whole movies.
Bravo, dream factory – bravo!
Rebooted! Reloaded! Retreaded!
Empire today had a quick chat with Graham King, who is producing the new film and seems to aligning it with the upcoming reboot of the games series, which takes Lara back to her youth.
We’ll be seeing a Lara who is not quite sure of herself, doesn’t have the arsenal of survival skills that we’re used to seeing and who is quite alarmingly fallible and frail in the face of danger.
They’re casting younger, which means no Angelina – as Empire suggests, this could be because she commands a far heftier fee nowadays – but leaves the field open to cast…
Image via Gemma Arterton online
She can handle the action, she can do posh in her sleep and she actually kind of looks like Lara, if you ask me. The words ‘slam’ and ‘dunk’ would come to mind, if I were the kind of blogger who used out-of-context US sports analogies to explain stuff.