Samstag, 10. Oktober 2009

Ladies of Interest (10): Lara Croft

At last! The hot female Indiana Jones (Indy can go HOME by the way) and one of the (if not THE) first kick-ass cyber-girls of the entertainment industry gets her own LOI-Entry! Yay!

Reason for this: I have been playing the last three Tomb Raider Games on Xbox 360 kinda on a row for a month or so and finished the breathtakingly cool last installment "TR: Underworld" today.

For those few who don't know Lara Croft (being some hermits in a cave... with internet-access, reading my blog...): British Millionaire follows foot-steps of her late parents by hunting antique artifacts and raiding dangerous tombs wearing ridiculously short outfits, equipped with two big guns and even bigger boobs. One of those things (or maybe two) hit a nerve on the (I'm wildly speculating: probably essentially male) customers, allowing Lara to star in almost a dozen games, two movies and 50 issues of her own (canceled) comic series.

"Tomb Raider Anniversary" - initially released as downloadable content for the first "new" Tomb Raider "Legend" - celebrated the 10th Anniversary of 1996's first game being a remake of the latter. The unlockable bonus material contains comparison-screenshots of scenes from the original in contrast to ones from anniversary: It's hard to imagine 16-year-old Batch finding Tomb Raider I the high peak of PC gaming graphics. Nonetheless, I really liked Tomb Raider I and simultaneously hated the hundreds of horrible deaths my Lara had to succumb to due to misplaced jumps. I played number II as well, but lost track and/or interest in the later games - my interest just got fueled again by a low priced copy of "Legend" (thank you, ebay).

Nowadays ("Underworld") Lara doesn't fall to death so often (being able to wallclimb, using a cool grappling hook and holding AUTOMATICALLY onto ledges), but essentially does the same old thing: Jumping and climbing on, under, above and in mysterious tombs and other archeological sites, occasionally shooting some bad guys or wild animals. Oh, well, she kinda looks better now (see Lara's evolution on the left. Lots of breast operations.)

I'm a little ashamed though, that I - testosterone-driven as I usually am - have to admit that despite her looks "Underworld's" Lara is far exceeded by the environmental graphics. I played the whole Raising and Racing into Xibalba Part 4 or 5 times, just because it's so frakkin' damn cool. Or the sunken entrance to Helheim. The holding place of Mjolnir at the bottom of Valhalla. The final showdown in the hall of Jörmungandr. The shiva/kali-statue above Bhogavati. And yeah, it helps, that I'm into that old-mystic-gods-underworlds-and-stuff-theme. A very big plus for "Underworld" in comparison to "Legend" - more complex riddles in ancient tombs instead of linear running through cities and the like. Could have been a little longer though. Took me just a week, maybe 8 or 9 hours.

But hey, I just downloaded the first of two extensions "Beneath the Ashes": Lara revisits the catacombs under Croft Manor to find an old artifact hidden there. Should be cool. Especially for Lara who will be doing the dungeoneering in a bikini.

.. What? All this tomb raiding in the main game has to be rewarded... can't leave that unlocked outfit untouched, can I? ;)

Update to "Beneath the Ashes": Hmm. Challenging (especially the dragon puzzle where you have to use the grappling hook creatively), sexy (with Lara doing all the dirty work in her bikini as announced), but rather short. Three hours at best, and that includes a few minutes of rotating the camera to examining Lara's problem zones (that don't exist) from different angles ;) plus some want-to-throw-gamepad-into-screen-frustrating scenes near the end. "Landscape" pretty boring, being just a big dungeon. Not completly worth the 800 Microsoft Points (9,60 Euro).

Downloaded the second DLC "Lara's Shadow", where you control Lara's doppelganger. New combat system, wallrunning and stuff - reviews are better, I hope, this pays out more. Paid more for two DLCs than for the main game ;).