Lara Croft Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider

Gamer's Notebook

Big news from Sony and the return of Lara Croft

By Chris O'Neal 02/28/2013

 

Tomb Raider available March 5
for the Playstation 3.

At the time of the Nintendo 64’s 1996 unveiling, I was a mere youth trying to find his footing in a world gone semi-digital. America Online was the best way to access what was then called “the Internet,” American television had yet to dissolve into reality television repetition, and Bill Clinton was enlivening the White House with his after-hours parties. No one would have believed that the Nintendo 64’s spotlight would be trumped by Sony’s Playstation 2, four years later, with better graphics and game play. Thirteen years after that, on the cusp of another technological revolution, Sony is doing it again with the Playstation 4.


Sony wowed fans with  several hour-long press conferences last week, detailing just about nothing on its upcoming system apart from there being big news to announce at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. The typical lineup of Sony producers was ushered onto the stage and forced to talk in code about upcoming projects.


While the allure of possible new games and dramatically beautiful visuals is like a siren call to those of us who actually enjoy gaming, the Playstation 4 is going to be more than that — and if you have been paying attention, this should come as no surprise. Social media and the tag of general entertainment played a heavy role in the announcement. Expect apps, apps and more apps linking the PS4 to non-gaming-related clutter.


Way back when the Nintendo 64 and the Playstation 2 were announced, it was just enough that 3D would be available in your home. Now a system isn’t a system if it can’t do everything a computer can do and more. In fact, the Playstation 4’s new dual shock controller replaces the standard start and select buttons with a share tab. Expect your Facebook wall to be littered with pictures of victory poses in the near future.


We shouldn’t be entirely pessimistic or morose about the onslaught of new social technologies. The Playstation 4 does, in fact, offer several new and exciting features: instant downloads of games via the market, a computer that thinks and gets to know you personally to better customize the gaming experience, and several top-tier developers on board to deliver potential launch-day games.


The Playstation 4 is expected this holiday season.


Around the time of the Nintendo 64’s launch, talk around the schoolyard revolved around the pixelated beauty known as Lara Croft. Our young minds hadn’t yet been over-saturated by the wonders of the Web, so when a woman built of triangles jumped and fought her way through fantastical landscapes in the Tomb Raider series, our minds raced.


Lara Croft has returned in the Playstation 3’s exclusive Tomb Raider, a prequel to all of the original games and a step in the right direction for a re-launch of the once-queen of action/adventure.


Lara is a young woman aboard a vessel shipwrecked on a mysterious island, which just happens to be the spot on where her first adventure begins. We witness the birthing of an action heroine unlike any seen before. We watch as she struggles to cope with the dangerous world around her and to come to terms with what must be done. We witness her first kill and the pain she feels, having taken a life, and then we go on to kill hundreds more.


Where the game succeeds is in its storytelling. Lara Croft is no longer a pixelated piece of eye candy. Now she’s a real woman with real problems. Sure, there’s the occasional piece of fan service, but below the predictable flash of cleavage is a game with true depth and detail. Lara climbs and jumps her way across a perilous island, fighting criminals and the somewhat supernatural as we watch her transform from a meager student into the ass-kicking heroine we’ve all come to love and ogle.


Chris O’Neal was nominated for Best Boy at the 2013 Oscars but lost out to Robert Downey Jr. Follow him on Twitter @Agentoneal.
 

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