For my 14th Christmas I was bought an original Playstation along with a copy of the newly-released Tomb Raider 2. On boxing day I sat there, transfixed to the screen, trying to work out how to traverse the Great Wall of China with two tigers hot after my blood.
After a good few hours of working my way through that first level I finally made it out and was soon following the next clue to Venice. Ever since Lara first dropped down into the streets of Venice, gaming was never quite the same for me again.
This was the first time I remember being swept up in the magic of a gaming world. The winding waterways of Venice; the sunken wreck of the Maria Doria; the trippy, other worldly nexus of the Floating Islands; and finally the last ditch effort by Bartolli’s men on Lara’s home. Lara Croft was, and remains to this day, my favourite gaming hero.
After Tomb Raider 4: The Last Revelation I kind of lost interest in the series. I was moving on to other things in life and gaming sort of fell behind. I never actively searched out any of the newer releases since Tomb Raider 4. That was until the rebooted Tomb Raider (hereafter referred to simply as “Tomb Raider”) was released in 2013.
Tomb Raider 2013
Tomb Raider completely blew me away from the get go. Lara was finally a real flesh and blood woman. She came alive right in front of me and wasn’t actually a battle-hardened raider of tombs yet. She was a scared young woman, who I would come to follow through to discovering her destiny on the island of Yamatai.
During Lara’s journey across Yamatai, she encounters a range of adversaries: armed soldiers; huge, demonic Storm Guards; sneaky forest wolves. All are out for blood, and all you will need to fight through at some stage. People have mentioned to me how they were disappointed by the focus being more on the fighting than on the actual raiding of tombs. While it’s true if you just follow where the story nudges you, you may find puzzles at a minimum. However there are many tombs located across the island and are there for you to try and solve, should you want to. So it’s not that there are less puzzles as such, only that you can choose if and when you want to attempt each tomb. I find this is actually more realistic than previous games as these hidden tombs would be just that – hidden. In fact I am currently on my second play through and have discovered a whole portion of the Mountain village that I had missed on my first play through.
Lara’s seemless progression across the island make this one of the most immersive games I’ve played, and one that I keep wanting to return to. I never feel that I’m just in a game, only that I am fighting my way through a living, breathing, deadly landscape where everything from the wildlife to the patrol guards are out to get me.
For me, Tomb Raider is a welcome addition to the family; the big shot of adrenaline the series needed. It also serves as probably the best origin story for Lara too, along with 2015’s Rise Of The Tomb Raider, which follows on.
Tomb Raider can be picked up dirt-cheap on Steam now for both Windows and Linux and you really should experience it.