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The first Tomb Raider title came out in 1996 and made Lara Croft a cultural icon almost overnight — she even appears in the Guinness Book of Records as the most recognisable female video game character.
Since then, the character's star has waxed and waned with two less-than-stellar movies and a few poorly received games on her CV. This new game — once again titled just Tomb Raider — takes Lara back to her roots, literally. The title is essentially an origin story for Lara, showing her transition from mild-mannered archaeologist to hard-nosed adventurer.
The game begins with a ship-wrecked Croft seeking to find her surviving crew and then get off the strange island they find themselves on. Obviously, it's going to be a little trickier than just finding a raft, as forces both mundane and supernatural combine to make escape a rather difficult proposition.
In terms of both story and gameplay, Tomb Raider is a resounding success. The thematic shift to a more vulnerable Lara is done well and succeeds at not coming across patronising.
It also makes for a solid game progression, letting players unlock new skills and weapons for Lara as she gradually adjusts and reacts to the hellish environment she finds herself in.
Tomb Raider manages to hit the right notes in terms of the traditional gameplay in the series, while still keeping it all feeling fairly fresh. The game relies primarily on exploration, with Lara's climbing skills an important focus. Puzzles abound — a few are actually quite pleasingly tricky — and stealth sequences, including silent kills, add a new dimension.