Video Game: Tomb Raider (2013)


Lara: They’re killing people…I don’t know who they are.  I had to kill some of them, I had no choice.

Roth: Can’t have been easy.

Lara: It’s scary how easy it was.

I tried the original Tomb Raider games way back when, but never got into them.  I only got this one because it came with the new 360 I purchased when I moved.  And I have to admit I was impressed.

The plot is pretty simple: you and your friends are shipwrecked on an island south of Japan.  An island inhabited by deranged cultists and ancient magics.  Getting off the island is no simple task, and soon you are in a fight for your life.

Did I enjoy the game?  Yes.

What did I like: This is not the Lara Croft who lives in a mansion and seeks out ancient tombs with confidence.  This is a young Lara Croft who has not yet awaken to the dangers, either mystical or human, that she will deal with in her chosen profession.  The growth of the character in accepting the mystical of the world around her, and the actions she’s willing to take to survive, was very enjoyable to play through.

Besides the main character, I enjoyed the interactions with and between the secondary characters.  They all had their own personalities and goals, and they did not always get along with each other or with Lara.

And as a history major, I must admit I enjoyed the history of the island as portrayed in the game.  Much of it was ancient Japanese, with great castles, tall houses, and artifacts from the time when this island was a kingdom in its own right.  More modern artifacts, from dairy entries of a Marine who landed on the island to crashed aircraft, rusted tanks and Japanese bunkers all tell the tale of the island through the centuries.

What I did not like: Lara kills a lot of people.  Video game violence is not something I’m unused to, but this still bugged me for two reasons.  First off, she goes from ‘innocent survivor’ to ‘commando’ pretty quickly.  Her actions did not match the emotions and dialogue of the character very well.

Secondly, I bugged me that she was not allowed to find ways around bad guys.  If your character is meant to be a thinker, forcing the character into violence limits the possibilities.  This reason probably stems from my enjoyment of the Mass Effect series, where most problems have several possible solutions, not all of them violent.   And since this is not a First Person Shooter, but a puzzle solving game, I would have liked to see more puzzle solving that gets Lara around the bad guys.  Instead of through them.

I don’t know if this game has much replay value.  I got all of the challenges and historical relics, the journal entries and tombs.  It might be fun to play through and take a look at the foreshadowing (if there is any), but if I did it would probably not be a thorough grab-everything play through.  Still, it was fun to play the first time, and has me paying attention to the franchise.

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