Tomb raiding, it sounds like a dirty business.
I have played the new Tomb Raider games and I must say they have come a long way since their first games back in the early 90’s. When the game first launched, Lara Croft had a body that was, um, unrealistic. The new Lara is much more realistic (she is no longer shaped like a porn star). You start off as a frightened and insecure adventurer, but as the game goes on, you start to feel like you are progressing and toughening up. I felt like a female James Bond, as I tore through the cult that was killing my friends. There were no limits on how I could dispatch the virtual baddies. Arrows of napalm, explosive arrows and bullets, flammable barrels littered the cursed island, and I ripped through it.
The only issue that I have with the games is that the story aims at religion.
The first game is concerned with a cult which seeks to transfer the soul of a dead Sun Queen into another living vessel. You may think, “ok its not a traditional religion” however, the baddies in the sequel are also in the first game and they are more along the lines of Christianity (except for the extremism that is part of the game.) In the second game, the bad guys are busily killing every follower of an undisclosed Prophet (more along the lines of modern Islam.) If one was to not consider these aspects of the game, they would miss the subliminal hints. However, I was blown away by the contrasts.
I suppose in the topsy-turvy world that we inhabit, it was only a matter of time before someone brought these two together in violent fashion. It seems to be a play on history and the actual skirmishes and battles that took place between Christianity and Islam in the Dark Ages. Crusades and Inquisitions aside, I would like to see a more balanced take on things instead of the usual, “the Christians are violent to the Muslim population or vice versa.”
Back to tomb raiding with Lara Croft.
The games do take some getting used to, many of the puzzles and jumps require timing. Falling to your death is gruesome but it happens often, not to mention the more asinine thrashing in the river and barricades that seek to impale you at various levels. The story writing is crisp, and I found myself feeling sympathy for Mathias and his band of lunatics in the first game. However, in the second game I felt nothing but anger at Konstantin and Ana. The difference I suppose is the circumstances of the two stories. In the first game, you could not leave the cursed island, therefore Mathias gave in to the maddening circumstances. The second game Konstantin and Ana are bloodthirsty psychos that are seeking immortality. Potato, potato.
If you don’t like puzzles, do not play Tomb Raider.
In the first game the puzzles were challenging but there were clues that could be found to help you get past being stuck there for hours. The second game took the challenge of the first game and amped it up by a power of a million. The AI of the enemies is something to behold. A sneak attack may work on one baddie but if witnessed, the baddies show up in force. Grenades are thrown, suppressive fire is laid down, and they move as a unit. It can prove to be deadly to engage them on any front. In the first game the AI was ok, many times you could just shotgun them into oblivion, however, in the second game, these guys come out in force. One level has you swimming underneath the ice of these six men armed with machine guns. You must take them out to get out of the level. Red smoke clouds the ice, and it took me almost an hour to kill these six folks. The trigger-happy maniacs kept me in the water because every time I surfaced; I was greeted with interlocking lanes of machine gun fire. Occasionally, I would knife one that strayed from the pack, hence the long time killing these folks. There have been moments of frustration, however, it has exercised my brain and caused me to consider other alternatives to the normal “run in and gun all the bad guys” approach. It has been refreshing and revolting all at the same time.
If you haven’t played the new Tomb Raider games, do yourself a favor and put them on your list to play.