Monday, June 24, 2013

Tomb Raider Reborn

Intensely Wicked Fun!

This has been the best game I have played since Castlevania: Lord of Shadows. I love the interactive games where you have to solve puzzles while fighting off enemies. Tomb Raider Reborn introduces us to Lara Croft before she is the iconic, legendary, Tomb Raider that we love. This is where it all begins - and what a place to start! Not only is the gameplay intense, the story adds to the complete package of the game. This really demonstrates how much of a fighter and survivor Lara is. My only negative comment would be the cruel misogynistic undertones that left my gut reeling after a death. Some (o.k. all) of her death scenes are brutal. I would not suggest this for children (at all). But, if you are a fan of Lara Croft, and the Tomb Raider games, this is definitely a must!
The game starts off with the 'crew' on a cargo ship, heading for Yamatai, Japan and the mysterious Dragon's Triangle. Her friend on this journey is Sam, who informs Lara about the legendary Sun Queen and how she is possibly a decedent (huge foreshadowing there). Story Plot on Wiki 
"The game is set on Yamatai, an island in the Dragon's Triangle off the coast of Japan. The island—and the kingdom that once existed there—is shrouded in mystery, given its reputation for fearsome storms and shipwrecks that litter its coastline. Yamatai was once ruled by a queen named Himiko, known by her honorific title of "Sun Queen", who according to legend was blessed with shamanistic powersthat enabled her to control the weather. Very little is known about Yamatai's history in the time since Himiko's death, other than that the island's infamy was established shortly thereafter. In exploring the island, the player may find evidence that—among others—Portuguese traders, United States Marines and a Japanese military project were all stranded on Yamatai at various points throughout history."
Their expedition takes them straight into the Dragon's Triangle and it costs them their ship. Castaways on an island, Lara is separated and is taken. When she comes-to she is bound and hanging upside down in a cavern that is decorated in blood, flesh, and other unfortunate victims. Once you escape your confines, you have to make your way out of the cavern system. Lara starts off with nothing except her two hands. I believe her first adage is a torch, which does come in very handy for burning piles of junk to gain rummage points, this will aide you in your weapon upgrades.

Relentless Woman of Perseverance

"At the start of the game, the island is populated exclusively by the Solarii Brotherhood, a violent cult of criminals, mercenaries and shipwreck survivors. The Solarii Brotherhood has established its own society based on the worship of Himiko, complete with a social structure and laws, with their exact purpose and intentions being explored over the course of the story."

The next weapon acquired is a bow. Other weapons that Lara will collect during the course of the game is a shotgun, assault rifle, and a pickax. The pick will help you climb as well - as I am afraid of heights, some of the scenes sent my senses reeling. But, as an excellent climber, Lara has no qualms about heights. Her survival instincts are tested, and tested again, and again. Just when you think that this poor girl couldn't possible go through anymore, she is blown-up, dropped from dramatic heights, has to fight through enemy infested sections. She is her own army kicking the Solari's ass. These warriors are no match for a relentless, woman of perseverance.
The game does an amazing job of showing the metamorphosis of how Lara starts off as a young lady and then how she is hardened and becomes this fierce woman. It is amazingly human, taking the time to go through the emotions of the actions she has to go through in order to survive. Much like her first kill in the game and how this impacts her.
Lara is not only fighting for her own life, but for those of the crew. She feels responsible for their fate on this island since she was the leader in the expedition. While she is unable to save them all, some give their lives so that she can go on. The one driving force is her almost maternal instinct to save her friend Sam, who is taken captive by the Solari. But, the primitive Solari cult is no match for the Storm Guard.
Through the mysteries of the island, Lara learns more of the history and rituals of Yamatai and the Sun Queen. The Storm Guard are the Sun Queens protectors. Just as Lara has to fight her way through swarms of Solari warriors, she now has to face an ancient guard in order to save her friend from the perils of the Sun Queen sacrificial ritual.

One Smart Cookie

The part of the gameplay that I love would be the puzzles and exploration aspects within the game. Lara has to use her intellect along with the information she has gathered from the island to dive further into Yamatai's realm of the Sun Queen legacy. She has to (as mentioned) climb, figure out complex puzzles, and find unique treasure on the island that helps her along her quest. Sometimes, when you are stuck in a puzzle chamber, take a deep breath, and look around the tomb. Explore what you have to work with and how it could be used in order to solve the puzzle. There are quite a few tricky tombs that had me scratching my head in confusion.
If you do get really stuck and can't seem to figure out what to do (this happened to me a couple times - like in the electricity tomb) - my weapon of choice was YouTube where there are many video walk through and tutorials that can help you successfully conquer and to continue.  Currently, I have completed 96% of the game, there are additional games within different sites. Such as burning flags along the way for unbeliever, or shooting certain lamps and lights for illuminations. 

Reborn of Blood and Vengeance

Once you have faced the Storm Guard and saved your friends from the fate of the Storm Queen, you can now go back through the different sites to continue to collect treasure maps, antiques, and different documentation. Watch out though, there could be storm guards lurking. A definite, when Lara is running around, if she suddenly ducks down then you know there could be trouble around the corner. But, they are no match for the Warrior Tomb Raider, Lara Croft. I wanted more after the game was over, and I sincerely hope that the creators are already hard at work in the next installment.
Tomb Raider Official Site