| || |
Tomb Raider (2013)
Tomb Raider can be described as an action game, brought up to go beyond the genre and series it expands on, and yet it never feels like it lost much of the acrobatics we have come to expect from the resilient Lara Croft. That can confuse the direction of many a game studio, because to break through in an overdone genre and yet stay faithful to its trappings is like going in opposite directions.
This is why, although the Lara Croft here looks a lot like a true vision for an action protagonist with a soul within, she is like a seasoned actor brought to go through yet another lackluster scene here, but with perhaps a more extravagant modern slant. Usually a high budget movie has a plot like this, a shipwreck and a conspiracy theory that allows for plenty of tension and adventure, but feels like they could have pushed for higher levels of polish and intricacy in the gameplay itself.
Lara looks prettier and well developed in demeanor this time around, which is applaudable. They set out to create a realistic and less sexualixed version of Lara, but after close inspection it feels like the opposite, that they pushed the feminine side of Lara far more than before, keeping it within that same category of sex appeal or probably higher, especially when the graphics have become good enough to be considered as Next Gen, so for an action shooter it is a visual treat on par with Remember Me or Assassinís Creed 3.
However, the combat system and the climbing sequences you have to go through for the sake of scene advancement are nothing to shake a stick at. There are variables that keep the difficulty respectable, but they usually involve shield-wielding enemies, sheer numbers and boss characters with the usual gimmicks to beat them. Then you realize a single overwhelming shotgun buckshot can be that get-out-of-jail-free-card and the challenge diminishes a little, changing the game into basically chunks of carefully curated battles to get to the next cut-scene or save point, the latest bane of modern gaming stemming from action games having to be on-rail experiences instead of deeply involved-and sometimes impossible challenges that keep the player on the toes.
You canít argue with how genuinely nostalgic the action feels though. The combat has evolved into a gritty and savage affair. You can feel every crunch and force of a hit, and every thunk from an arrow hit feels satisfying, so you keep playing with a certain weird joy of wanting to get through unscathed and advancing deeper.
If that is probably its strongest point, then Iím happy it is. People coming into Tomb Raider donít typically look for an extremely deep experience but rather appreciate the character for what she is, a strong female protagonist. Take it how you will, if you arenít looking for the spiritual successor to Half life 2 in any sense of facet, you would find a decent adventure that attempts to reinvent and to mature an established character. Itís really just a beginning rather than an end, and you will be entertained with this game for the action and the franchise's influence at least.