Tomb Raider Reborn: Gaming Gone Right

The new Tomb Raider reboot has received general acclaim from many game rating sites, including a 9.1 from IGN’s own Keza MacDonald (read her review here). After playing the first few hours, this is my general impression.

Holy cow, this game is gorgeous. The animation for the water, the blood, the lighting effects- all fantastic. I’m playing TR on the PS3 and the graphics are positively stunning. I have literally never seen such a beautiful game so seamlessly integrated with cutscenes. This game makes Uncharted 2 look ugly.

On that Uncharted note, many peer reviews have said that TR is just Uncharted, but featuring Lara Croft instead of Nathan Drake. While there are obvious similarities, I think the new Tomb Raider game tackles a few things differently than Naughty Dog’s franchise.

  1. Lara Croft does not have her crap together. In Uncharted, Nathan is always able to scrape his way out of a bind. Lara fails, hardcore sometimes, because she doesn’t know any better.
  2. Lara Croft is NOT a super hero. When you’re Nathan Drake, you are this kick butt, superhuman fighter who always grabs the cliff in time. Lara Croft is no hero. She falls, she makes stupid mistakes, she gets hurt- viscerally, and she is a scared woman. I have never felt so protective and concerned about a protagonist in my life.
  3. Tomb Raider is not some fun Indiana Jones-style romp throughout history. In Uncharted, the stories felt campy and fun. Even in the more serious Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, I felt like I was watching a Harrison Ford movie. I’d want to go on an Uncharted adventure. Tomb Raider, on the other hand, is deadly serious. The dark themes and gritty details make you cringe and I would NEVER EVER EVER want to be in Lara Croft’s shoes.

I think overall, my strongest impression of the game is how it makes me feel when I play it. I am so tense, so nervous as I perilously try to lead Lara to safety. In less than three hours, they’ve made me care so deeply about this virtual woman- I haven’t cared this much about a protagonist since I played Mass Effect.

I look forward to the rest of my playthrough. Just based on my initial impressions alone, I would encourage people to play this game. If you love action/adventure games, or if Farcry 3 was totally your jam, you are going to love Tomb Raider.

– E.B.

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