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Tomb Raider This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Nature is your bow; your wit, a sheath of arrows. You have a real bow too, if you're that type, but either way, draw back and propel yourself into this gritty, frantic, and uniquely passionate reboot of the Tomb Raider series by developers Crystal Dynamics. Some minor stutters in the plot and gameplay keep this dark, original story from five stars, but Lara Croft puts an arrow in the action-adventure genre that just wouldn't stick if shot by any other hand.

Lara Croft is 21. No pistols, no tomb raiding … yet. However, on an expedition to the lost Japanese city of Yamati, a storm hits. Shipwrecked on an island, novice explorer Lara Croft must embrace danger to survive. With a strange cult hunting her, Lara must become something she's not to unearth secrets, fight the supernatural, and raid tombs to save her friends and herself.

The actual plot is nothing special – it's all been done before. It's not cliché, but it doesn't ­really get anywhere. Where “Tomb Raider” really shines is in Lara Croft herself. Camilla Luddington provides a remarkable voice for her; whether whispering, grunting, or screaming, you'll want to hear what she's got to say. This is amplified during Lara's many emotional moments, like when she must kill for the first time, or when she cauterizes a wound with the tip of her arrow. Lara Croft, not the plot, is the highlight. Unfortunately the supporting cast is underwhelming. They seem to exist only to be her buddies in need of help.

“Tomb Raider” sets you loose on nature's grand stage with a variety of weapons and methods. Pry open crates to collect parts to upgrade weapons, and gain experience to spend skill points on perks. You'll quickly pick a favorite, and I'll be surprised if it's not the bow, which makes a snappy metallic sound to please your trigger-happy forest rampages. All the weapons, except maybe the rifle, have real punch, and enemies jerk back with believable force when hit.

“Tomb Raider” is full of cinematic action sequences and breathtaking set pieces. Sliding down waterfalls and mangled planes and rock cliffs is thrilling, and though it has gotten some criticism for its quick-time events, they work really well with these perils. Hollywood-style jumps and falls become something different in the hands of “Tomb Raider,” because Lara gets hurt, badly. This gives great balance to the impossible stunts she executes.

If you thought “Tomb Raider” was all shooting, you've been ignorant to the vast world of Crystal Dynamics, with tons of tombs and collectibles for Lara to raid, each with its own puzzle to solve.

After you finish the story, you can continue to explore the island for stuff you missed, but that gets dull quickly. There's also multiplayer, but that's only fun for a round or two, then you realize you'd rather be cauterizing your wounds with a flaming arrow, so you replay the campaign.

Lara Croft is not to be taken lightly, and with Crystal Dynamics' dark, gritty reboot of the series, it's clear she never will be again. With its strong lead, heavy exploration, enjoyable action, and wowing cinematics, “Tomb Raider” kicks down the door of the action-adventure genre, stating; “There's a new sheriff in town!” And she's got a bow. It's rated M for mature.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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Super_Mario_Prose This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 16, 2013 at 9:50 pm
Erm... normally, I wouldn't complain about TeenInk confusing the displayed images for reviews with other games similar to the franchises (like Dead Space 3 for a Dead Space 2 review), but putting the box art for Tomb Raider: Underworld instead of the reviewed Tomb Raider is a little pitiful, only because the two games depict Lara Croft so radically differently, and I dislike how they depict her in box art like Tomb Raider: Underworld, which is one of the ... (more »)
 
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