I can't praise this game enough. Let's start at the beginning. I'd never played Tomb Raider before. When the series really hit its heyday, I was in my early teens and actively avoiding any game centered around large breasts (even though this was probably an inaccurate assessment, this was what 13-year-old me ascertained based on what the males my age were praising in the game). However, when I saw the Tomb Raider advertisement in GameStop, I was intrigued. Lara seemed like a bad ass, and her body had believable proportions - but don't get me wrong, the new Lara was still sexy as hell, just in a more intelligent, capable way. I dug it. Enough that I immediately shelled out cash to buy the game.
I popped in the PS3 to be stunned by beautiful imagery of shipwrecks in the opening screen. From there, the game wastes no time throwing the player into its world; the story takes off like a bullet, and like Lara, we are violently cast into a terrifying, unfamiliar setting - and forced to learn fast. To that end, the controls and gameplay are up to par for a modern action/adventurer in that they facilitate rather than hinder the experience.
The island has lots in store for platformers; the determined explorer will be rewarded with ancient artifacts, doubly satisfying thanks to neat historical tidbits. This type of puzzle-solving is kept from becoming too tedious, however, thanks to frequent encounters with enemies. Weapons and skills upgrades are both useful and gratifying, letting players more effectively gather materials or execute vicious finishing moves. The ability to hunt animals is another nice touch that allows one to collect resources and refine marksmanship (I prized myself on my ability to shoot rats). I especially loved the long-range and stealth capability of the bow, Lara's flagship weapon in the game. It's all brought together by a creative, compelling, and perfectly paced plot. Together, Lara and the player transform from lost and confused to gets-shit-done bad ass.
I can only hope the developers helm another installment of Tomb Raider.