The new Tomb Raider goes back in time to create a character arc for Lara Croft, attempting to reboot and redefine one of gaming’s legitimate pop culture icons. With this goal in mind, the game tells a deliberately crafted story between tightly controlled, death-defying action sequences defined by breakneck forward momentum, bloody battles with man and beast, puzzles solved through manipulation of your physical environment, and open areas to explore and master.
It’s a highly enjoyable, often skillfully executed game exhibiting all the traits of a modern blockbuster. Adherence to established tenets of contemporary game design often pays off in an impressively detailed world, thrilling action sequences, and a sense of growth enabled by experience points and equipment upgrades. The way forward is often indicated by waypoint markers--when it’s not straight ahead through a breakneck set piece--but it’s refreshing when you’re let off the leash, and the mysterious island you’re marooned on is beautifully convincing and has an appreciable sense of interconnectedness.
Trekking the treacherous path of the triple-A action game doesn’t lead to any fatal missteps, but there a few stumbles, and one particularly surprising pratfall. In spite of the developer’s intentions and the vulnerability displayed by the heroine in cutscenes, the game struggles to render her as believable human character.