It is 17 years since Lara Croft’s first adventure, Tomb Raider, in which time she has starred in a dozen games, two films, and an incalculable number of adolescent fantasies. Yet her life of plunder and peril begins anew this week with a full franchise reboot, starring Lara as we’ve never seen her before: inexperienced, scared and wearing trousers. Like Bond and Batman before her, she has been born again in darker, grittier detail. And, again like Bond and Batman, she sort of needed to be.

Tom Meltzer writes in g2

Photograph: Rex Features

It’s back, and it’s more dizzyingly complex than ever. @GdnGames preview the latest in the venerable Sim City series: called, simply, Sim City.

Here we meet lead character Michael, an ageing bank robber who fulfils that most fecund of crime-fiction archetypes: a crook who’s made good, retired to a fancy house, but now misses the excitement of the old days. In the demo Rockstar shows us, he starts out sunbathing by the pool like Ray Winstone in Sexy Beast, the city shimmering in the distance beyond his landscaped gardens. The player is able to get up and explore the bleached stucco mansion, passing the tennis court (you can play a match if you like), then bumping into Michael’s bored wife as she clambers into a sports car on the front drive. “If you want to know where I am, read your credit card statement,” she yells as tyres squeal. “I’m feeling lucky, I’ll check the hospitals!” he calls back. And slowly but surely, his previous career begins to beckon.

Keith Stuart gives the lowdown on Grand Theft Auto V, in this comprehensive preview.

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This is one of those rare games that you can get for anyone – from kids to experienced players – and they won’t be disappointed. It’s a brilliantly crafted platformer with luscious 2D visuals and a great four-player mode, allowing everyone to play together on the same screen (as long as you have enough controllers). It’s a good present too, as the titles has enjoyed only cult success so far so your friend/partner/child/parent is unlikely to already have it.

Keith Stuart on Rayman Origins: his full guide to the Christmas gift ideas to please the gamer in your life is here.


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I don’t particularly mind the level of violence in computer games, partly because it’s absurd, and partly because I’m hopelessly desensitised. What I do object to is the dick-swinging machismo that infests games like this. If I had a penny for every time I’ve spent the opening moments of a game sitting in the back of a transport vehicle listening to a soldier called Vasquez repeatedly use the word “motherfucker”, I’d have enough money to buy the Sesame Street game instead. And even that probably starts with Sergeant Grover warning Private Elmo that “Shit is about to get real”.

Every soldier in every game I’ve ever played is a dick. A dick that sounds like a 14-year-old boy reading dialogue discarded from an old-school Schwarzenegger action movie for displaying too much swagger. They seem like a bunch of try-hard bell-ends, desperate to highlight their gruff masculinity. What, exactly, are they overcompensating for?

Charlie Brooker on why games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 are “inherently wussy”.

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Well, we could spend days making our way through the perilous cavern dungeon levels to slay Lizalfos and King Dodongo in exchange for Goron’s Ruby, but look – some fish! In a pond! Let’s catch some! For no reason! For two hours!

Matt Hill on what he’s learned from two decades playing The Legend of Zelda