Lara needed a makeover. Heck, the curves were still killer and the lips still sensual, but it wasn't Croftie's body that was letting her down - the opposition had simply kicked on.
Whippersnappers like Nathan Drake had taken Lara's swashbuckling template and cranked the adventure up to a whopping 11. It speaks volumes for Tomb Raider's output during the last half decade that Anniversary - a pseudo remake of her first ever adventure - was by far developers Crystal Dynamics' standout caper at the helm.
So, back to the makeover... which actually involves a time machine. Or at least the mother of all flashbacks. This reboot/origin story is simply entitled 'Tomb Raider', and stars a 21-year-old Lara who - having just graduated from uni - finds herself awaking covered in bruises, bound with rope, hanging upside down and surrounded by corpses... in the near dark.
Nope, it's not a sorority prank gone awry - her plane has crash landed on the kind of mysterious island that JJ Abrams just lurves. Populated by that true horror of horrors: the intelligent savage, Croftie and her fellow survivors are being hunted down and sacrificed.
Eek! Introducing a markedly more vulnerable, battered and bloody Lara, Crystal Dynamics immediately lobs our alpha female preconceptions out of the coconut tree.
We've already sat, mouth agape, as a scared and disorientated Lara is lulled into a false sense of security by one of her pursuers before being gorily stabbed to death; we've grimaced at watching her legs mashed by rubble, her head stoved in by a boulder.
These are the survival horror rumours hinted at when the Tomb Raider reboot first broke cover some 16 months ago and we like what we see.
ISLE BE BACK
As Lara explores the semi-sandbox island and begins to unravel its various mysteries (why is the region attracting so many shipwrecks and plane crashes? Just who are its mysterious denizens?) she'll be able to make camp and ramp up her powers, plus acquire new equipment like climbing axes and rope to assist with Metroid-like revisitings of previously discovered areas.
Climbs will be infinitely more epic affairs than previously, with a tangible sense of danger as Croftie pushes her inexperienced rock-scaling skills to breaking point...
The Lost-meets-Deliverance vibe continues with Lara's acquisition of bow & arrow to accompany the usual raft of pistols and shotties. We have the feeling ammo will be scarce though, so ready yourselves for some tense cannibal versus young lady melee match-ups.
Combat, then, will have a markedly different feel to previous outings, with Lara's fighting-for-her-life desperation portrayed by both her physical and metal fragility.
Frankly, we couldn't be more psyched about this revamped Raider if we tried. Lara might be younger, but this adventure is infinitely more mature - and as much as we worshipped that impossible bosom and shapely thighs, this delicate, mini-Lara is a far more evocative heroine. Gear up for a potential Uncharted beater on the horizon.
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