Backflips. Huge pointy boobs. Shooting akimbo Ingrams at tigers whilst airborne. Finding artifacts. Solving puzzles.
That is historically the gist of the Tomb Raider formula. And now we have a new installment, a reboot if you will.
And what about the features that I listed? Some have returned, some have been left behind. And by a big margin, Crystal Dynamics has done it very very right. The boob-gazing of the past is luckily for the most part gone. Sure, her tits are big and she still does rock a skimpy top as her main outdoor gear, but there is no camera angle funny business or cutscene focus on the boobage. That is a huge plus for the game, because having that type of soft porn in 2013 would be embarrassing.
Gamers have grown up, and so has the frachise of TR. Lara is more fleshed out: unsure about her skills, a bit scared of the unknown but still Lara. The overall mood is darker, more gritty. Things are a bit more hectic, more about survival.
The combat is great (I love that Lara automatically ducks down behind obstacles when she is in danger) and traversing the island is very smooth and responsive – overall the controls are short of brilliant.
Crystal Dynamics has done a stellar job at taking the main elements of the Tomb Raider series and bringing them to the post-Uncharted gaming world. One can of course bitch about copying the very popular series from Naughty Dog, but let's face it: Lara did the "adventuring and climbing shit"-act first.
It'll be quite interesting to see if they manage to "pull a Rocksteady" when making the inevitable follow-up.
I hope they do.