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.