Lara Croft has come a long way since the days when she was the polygonal, hyper-sexualized protagonist of the early Tomb Raider games.
Thanks to a reboot the new Lara is a smart, adventurous and brave young woman voiced and motion-capped by the talented Camilla Luddington, and she’s never felt more real. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lara ventures to the Peruvian jungle to chase down Mayan artifacts, and among the many obstacles in her way are jaguars.
Gorgeous, magnificent, regal jaguars who seemingly manifest out of the mist and blend back into the green inferno at will.
Here’s our new Lara, now starring in her third game:
Like previous games, her adventures revolve around archaeological digs, ancient tombs and uncovering the history of humanity one find at a time. What would a Tomb Raider adventure be without a bit of danger?
After an opening sequence, Lara and her friend Jonah head deep into the Peruvian jungle. This being Tomb Raider, they can’t land like normal people — a powerful storm sweeps in, sending their plane crashing into uncharted territory.
Lara finds herself alone, lost in the jungle without her gear. The sounds of the jungle reach a fever peach, with birds fleeing branches and monkeys howling, heralding the arrival of the apex predator of the Americas: Panthera onca, the jaguar, a name that translates to “He who kills with one bound.”
Okay, stay calm! Remember your training! You’re face to face with an apex predator with the strongest bite force of any animal, but you can do this!
Besides, it can’t get any worse at this point.
Oh shit. Even the monkeys are like “Dayum! Grab the popcorn!”
Don’t panic! Maybe these jaguars are just saying hello!
Or maybe not.
What’s worth noting is that these are not cut scenes — what you see here are screenshots within the game engine. For people who aren’t familiar with video games, that means you’re looking at the game itself. This is what the gameplay looks like.
We have come a long, long way from this, haven’t we?
It’s a difference allowed by several generations’ worth of improved computer hardware and software, resulting in billions of additional polygons, millions of additional colors, improved lighting, physics, art assets, high definition textures, motion capture technology and all the little things that fuel progress from a world made from flat, blurry environments and cartoonish characters to a hyper-realistic, almost photo-quality world which makes incredible immersion possible.
Most of our readers may not be gamers, but for those who are, I’ll avoid spoilers here even though Shadow of the Tomb Raider was a 2018 release.
Suffice to say jaguars play a prominent role in the game and serve as the Big Bads, the game’s ultimate threat made even more terrifying by the knowledge that they can appear at any time and ambush our hero before she’s even aware of their presence.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider does a fantastic job of immersion, making all of the dangers of the jungle feel real through meticulously crafted visuals and sound, and a compelling story. And like everything else in life, it’s better with cats!