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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Tomb Raider

I remember when I was given my very first PlayStation. I got Rayman 2 and Disruptor with it. I loved both games and thought I was so cool. Then my mates told me all about this busty kick-ass character called Lara Something and I thought hard about how to ask my parents for a game that had a woman with boobs in it... I was a kid. These things spring to mind as issues!

Almost two decades later and it's my girlfriend who's buying me the Tomb Raider game! Boobs and all! Only, hang on... roll back a little. Because the boobs have been made largely irrelevant! As have any Tomb Raider titles in the last decade.

Tomb Raider is a total reboot of the franchise, charting the very first steps of a naive and inexperienced Lara Croft, Archaeology Graduate, into the world of adventuring. When the crew of the Endurance are shipwrecked on a mysterious and storm-laden island somewhere off the coast of Japan a wet-behind-the-ears (and all over) Lara must seek out, rejoin and save her research associates before they fall victim to the mysterious Solarii cult led by the maniacal Father Mathias.

Gone are the days of shimmying from unusually straight rock edge to unusually straight rock edge (though there is some rock shimmying), and here are the days of brutal, desperate survival at all costs. Tomb Raider isn't about raiding tombs (though there is some tomb raiding); it's about Lara's unforgiving struggle to not die on this lonely, rocky, dangerous rock. And more than any other game I have played in the last few years it delivers thrills by the barrel-load. The movie-like (yet player-controlled) action sequences are unrivaled by any game I have played in terms of sheer terror and nerve.

There is some pretty violent combat (though always necessary and regrettable) but you could almost make it the whole way through this game without killing. But where's the fun in that, right? Well, judging by Lara's reaction to her first kill, it'd be her preferred method! This game has euphemistic body parts by the bucket-load; heart, brains, muscle, balls and, more than all of those, legs! This is the probable new first chapter to an all new Tomb Raider franchise that could very really eclipse the polygonal package that has come before it.

I've yet to finish the main story mode so I shall keep my thoughts about just how complete a first chapter this feels until I've done so. But judging on the spine-tingling journey I've been on so far, this game could just become my favourite ever. Everyone loves Lara but, until you play Tomb Raider, nobody loves her enough. This isn't the wise-cracking, smart-dressing, ass-kicking Lara of old; Angelina Jolie couldn't play this new Lara. This Lara is a real, living, breathing character with a sense of conscious and no experience when it comes to doing just what she has to do: kill or be killed.

If you're a fan of the old, jumpy, crawly, shooty Tomb Raider then you should either avoid this game or embrace it as a new beast. This is not platform gaming-by-numbers as many of the TR sequels were. This is as close to dangerous, bloody, real-life terror as any game has ever got. This game is breathtaking. Buy it!