PRESS PLAY

TOMB RAIDER

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TECH - Mike Wilcox Email mike@hy­per­ac­tiveg­ames.com

ONLY a few gam­ing fran­chises have tasted the cov­eted success of the Tomb Raider se­ries. Since its de­but in the mid- 1990s, this ac­tion- ad­ven­ture se­ries, star­ring an English arche­ol­o­gist called Lara Croft, has spawned more than a dozen games, plus comic books, nov­els, films, theme park rides and even an en­try in the Guin­ness Book of Records.

Af­ter five years, a new game is al­most upon us and it’s some­thing of a re­boot for the se­ries.

Rather than fol­low­ing on from pre­vi­ous games, we’re trans­ported back in time to a more youth­ful Lara Croft, as she sets out on her first arche­o­log­i­cal ven­ture.

Stranded on a mys­te­ri­ous is­land in the wake of a dev­as­tat­ing ship­wreck, Lara quickly dis­cov­ers that the trop­i­cal par­adise is home to all sorts of dan­ger, in­clud­ing a band of mer­ce­nar­ies killing ev­ery­one, and the is­land’s tribal leader with her su­per­nat­u­ral pow­ers.

This mix of re­mote is­land sce­nario and mys­te­ri­ous story el­e­ments evokes the early days of TV drama Lost, which could be a thrilling way to take this videogame se­ries.

Lara has learned some Un­charted- style travers­ing, As­sas­sins Creed stealth ma­noeu­vre and Bat­man de­tec­tion abil­i­ties.

The va­ri­ety of game­play looks promis­ing and is sup­ported by the game’s grim but gor­geous art de­sign.

Of course, Lara is cen­tral to the game. The de­vel­oper, Crys­tal Dy­nam­ics, has made the younger char­ac­ter strong, in­de­pen­dent and re­source­ful, but also vul­ner­a­ble.

The re­sult is an em­pow­ered fe­male char­ac­ter, but one that is dragged through mud, tor­ture and tur­moil to over­come the chal­lenges pre­sented to her. The de­vel­oper needs to be care­ful not to over­load the game with me­chan­ics and con­cepts, los­ing sight of what made Tomb Raider a cult clas­sic.

We’ll know for sure how it all pans out when the game ar­rives early next month. What I’ve seen though, Tomb Raider is set to breathe life back into the se­ries.

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