Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3)
ESRB rating: Mature
Review rating: 4.5 stars
Lara Croft is as iconic to video games as Superman is to comic books. Her first outing on the original PlayStation helped introduce 3D gaming to the world, but several sequels fell flat on their face. Now the series has undergone a much-needed reboot, and the new "Tomb Raider" is intense, fun and engaging!
Lara's story begins as she abandons a sinking ship and awakens on a remote island. She feels cold and alone, and she quickly discovers the hardships of enduring both the remote wilderness and merciless natives. This isn't the spunky spelunker that gamers have come to know, and Lara soon transforms from an innocent, wide-eyed archeologist to a hardened survivalist.
It doesn't take long for Lara to discover that she has to kill to survive. On one hand she must hunt animals for sustenance, and on the other she is forced to kill humans before they kill her. I really appreciate how she is sickened by both acts at the beginning because it adds authenticity to her character.
Four main weapons are at her disposal throughout the game: a compound bow, pistol, shotgun and automatic rifle. My favorite weapon is the bow because it lets Lara silently take out enemies, which lets players use a stealthy approach if they choose. Another great addition is the ability to upgrade all weapons with various accouterments such as a larger clip, extra damage and even a secondary fire feature.
In addition to combat and linear mission objectives, Lara is tasked with a wide variety of adventuresome activities that include searching for hidden documents and artifacts, rescuing members of her crew and even finding hidden tombs. While there aren't many blatant puzzles, simply finding her way around the island or discovering new areas equate to built-in puzzles. Fortunately, activating a black-and-white visual mode called Survival Instincts can help show where to go whenever it's needed.
Add several other useful and interesting features to this reboot, and "Tomb Raider" emerges as a fantastic example of how to reboot a dying franchise.