A survivor is reborn in Tomb Raider

In a bold move to rekindle a fading franchise, game development studio Crystal Dynamics attempts to breathe new life into action/adventure gaming with their reboot of the acclaimed ‘Tomb Raider’ series.


In the fall of 1996 we were first introduced to the adventurer Lara Croft when Tomb Raider launched on gaming platforms and instantly became an overnight success. Gamers welcomed the big-lipped, buxom, dual-pistol wielding female equivalent of Indiana Jones and the Tomb Raider franchise went on to spawn a huge cult following, multiple sequels, action figures, comic books and even two summer blockbusters starring actress Angelina Jolie as the iconic Lara Croft.

The Tomb Raider franchise’s revolutionary parade began to lose steam however in 2003 when the sixth game in the series fell short of commercial expectations and wasn’t received well by critics and fans alike, which in turn led key members of the development team to leave the company. The responsibility of the Tomb Raider property then fell into the hands of the Redwood City based game developer Crystal Dynamics, which after producing a couple above-average entries for the series barely managed to keep Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider franchise afloat.

With the ever constantly changing demographics in what gamers were playing and the window closing on the influence of action/adventure titles, the developers had to think outside of the box and do what other game developers weren’t doing with their intellectual properties. Something had to be done in order to revitalize the Tomb Raider brand. Something drastic.

What’s more of a shocker is that the Tomb Raider reboot will be the first in the series to carry a Mature rating.

In a bid to keep Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider property relevant in today’s grittier era of modern video gaming, the developers stunned the industry when they had Lara grace the January 2011 Game Informer magazine cover in a world exclusive feature article to announce the forthcoming installment of the Tomb Raider series – but it wasn’t the Lara we were familiar with nor was it a continuation of her adventures. This Lara was younger, sported a realistic appearance, and was regarded as inexperienced and vulnerable — a far cry from the flawlessly hardened heroine we’ve been accustomed to all these years. Not only was it surprising to see that the developers rebooted the franchise into an origin story for Lara Croft’s tomb raiding escapades, but what’s more of a shocker is that the Tomb Raider reboot will be the first in the series to carry an “M” for Mature rating (the gaming equivalent of an R-rated film) while all previous Tomb Raider titles were rated for Teens and were marketable to a much wider audience.

Players must take control of Lara to brave both the elements and environment in order to survive.

The new Tomb Raider game features a 21-year-old Lara stranded on an island off the coast of Japan for her debut adventure. The game kicks off when the salvage vessel Lara is traveling on runs into a violent storm that snaps the ship in half and leaves Lara shipwrecked and separated from the rest of the crew. Starting out with no food, water, or weapons players must take control of Lara to brave both the elements and environment in order to survive as she tries to locate the rest of her crew and find a way off the island — all while trying to stay one step ahead of the island’s threatening wild life, indigenous tribesmen and deadly mercenaries.

In a completely new gameplay aspect of the series, players must now hunt and gather food, build fires to keep warm, and harvest items in order to craft tools and fashion new weapons such as a bows. Tomb Raider’s trademark puzzles will also be returning and have been reported to be more challenging than ever, requiring Lara to utilize elements such as wind, water, fire and even friction in order to solve them as she navigates and explores tombs while the game unfolds.

The new Tomb Raider game is definitely shaping up to be a major hit and a breath of fresh air in a video game industry that’s dominated by shooter titles that are subjectively beginning to all look and play the same. Be sure to check out Tomb Raider when it hits store shelves for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC on March 5th, 2013.


Photo Credit: Crystal Dynamics

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