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'Tomb Raider': A heroine is born

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Entertainment,Greg Prince

Lara Croft is a household name in the movie and video games industries. She's intelligent, fearless and a hardened adventurer, but she wasn't always that way.

Developer Crystal Dynamics' reboot of the franchise puts you in Lara's boots on her first deadly adventure. Witness her evolution from rookie explorer to steely-eyed fighter.

While on an research expedition, the ship carrying Lara and her fellow explorers gets caught in a storm and they get marooned on a tropical island. Lara gets knocked out and captured, though she eventually breaks free. Frightened and alone, she's trapped on an island filled with people and creatures who want to kill her. She must figure out how to survive and rescue her friends.

The beginning will have you cringing a number of times. Lara's shrieks of pain make you want to fight harder to ensure sure her survival. There are some scenes that just feel smarmy, because they involve Lara being attacked and ending up in compromising positions. But she fights off these assaults and comes out stronger -- she learns to be the hunter, not the hunted.

'Tomb Raider'
» Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
» Price: $59.99
» Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

"Tomb Raider" is a great adventure that has you trekking all over a mysterious island. As far as gameplay goes, it's a mashup of top sellers of the past few years. There are hints of "Far Cry," "Assassin's Creed" and "Darksiders." "Tomb Raider" is a relatively linear game, just like pervious games, but you can circle back to previous areas for further exploration. There's plenty of combat, but the island is also filled with puzzles and ancient tombs. The platforming sections are visual masterpieces that are reminiscent of the original games, and they come often enough to break up all the fighting. Too bad there is an overuse of quick-time events -- so much so that it almost feels like "Resident Evil 6" at times.

Lara's adventure leans heavily on role-playing. She gains experience from hunting and fighting, she scavenges for resources to improve her weapons, and she learns new skills to take down bad guys.

"Tomb Raider" looks impeccable and it offers a fair challenge. It's a great way to relaunch the series, and it attempts to replace the over-sexualized character Lara Croft had become.

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