Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tomb Raider - From Fantasy to Reality

Tomb Raider – Fantasy to Reality

From the original adventures, until Underworld. Lara was trying to wrap up her life, past and present. However, from all she gained, she lost many more things. Underworld found itself closing a huge chapter in the series, where it all began, it all will end. Looking at the reboot chapter, it is altogether a different Lara we’re accustomed to, fresh faced adventurer, college grad, and unaware of what lies ahead.

Part I – Fantasy
The TR series always lent itself towards real world locations, these would take part in fantastic quests of finding treasures that were integral to the story. Like real life, a lot of lost memories lie deep within places left forgotten for many years, some for centuries. Plus the past games relied heavily with the ongoing story, not about where she came from or how she got there. But she was a woman on a mission, to resolve her past for a future.

Compared to the new Lara, it is apparent that her family is still with her. Although it may be explained later the consequences of her journey may bring her back a different person altogether.

Part 2 – Reality
By far the biggest difference with past TR adventures is the advent of action. It was more direct, and with the camera a great distance away. It is implied that she fought to stay alive, although the newer TR pushes things up a notch. Delivering a more aggressive character, relying heavily on her use of the environment and weaponry. This is where the two differ, many critics panned it down for being overkill in the action sequences. There is very little breathing room, with the “others” becoming more hostile the further Lara explores.

Covering different countries is what past TR was all about. With newer TR, her first adventure takes place on a vast island lost to time itself. Long ago it was a place of worship, and tranquility. Until outsiders made it their home, abusing the land for their own devices.

Part 3 – The Divide
Five years left many fans wondering where the series would go next. With the reboot taking fans on a new adventure, some feel resolve, while others find themselves wondering why it needed “change”. From explorer to ultra violent, to some it lost its inertia for taking what made spelunking into unknown territories and having to fight off predators. To tell the truth, I think the series needed some breathing room, with so many action and adventure titles out there.

Replaying the past series, it feels like a different game. It still compels you to take “leaps of faith”, yet also taking a chance by making a decision of going left or right. Depending on where you go, there are many hidden secrets. What is really unique is how the new TR represents the tombs as catacombs. However the expanse that covers the hidden places, they are no longer vast as they used to be. The “lost island” is close enough a representation of Dracula’s Castle (*reference to Castlevania), or Planet Zebes (*Metroid). Or the “island of time” in Prince of Persia (Warrior Within), which also took that series to darker territory. Although the new TR is an origin tale, it definitely lays markers on what it wants to become. Not just another TR by title alone, but a series that can be taken seriously, and its fans have known that since day one.

Part 4 – Survival
By far the biggest change is the lack of a health bar. In the past we had to rely on key markers of Lara’s health. Depending on actions, the bar would reflect how much further she could go. Now it depends on how damage she takes, if Lara begins to hold her side or is about to pass out. Does she regenerate health? I don’t believe so, it was given in Underworld that she had the ability. With new TR, its more of a stability mechanism story wise, where she may be able to stand just awhile longer.

Another key design change is hunting for food. If in dire need to replenish her health, Lara may opt to hunt local wildlife to sustain her energy. With her bow or ax, she makes a choice by way of the player on what to do. Interesting note, she even resonates a “survival instinct” that keys onto objects nearby or her environment. (close knit to a type of “Spidey Sense”)

Within new TR, it expands on finding the history behind the island itself. From the dwellers of the lost crew, to the believers, many paths co-inside with one another. Finding documents that hint of their journey, to the foundation of the leader of these “outsiders”. As it turns out maybe it was Lara’s destiny and her team to wind up in this place.

Where could Lara’s next expedition go next? Depending on how well the new TR does, there may be many more adventures to be explored.

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