On the heels of Square Enix's iOS release of the original Tomb Raider comes an entirely new Lara Croft adventure. Since it's the holidays, a leisurely card game or two isn't a bad way to pass the time, and Lara Croft: Reflections is banking on our love of the beloved genre. Horrible first impressions are usually a deal breaker for some, and if you're not in the Christmas spirit this app may bring out your inner Scrooge.

Card games should be relatively quick to download due to their lack of complexity, and since this app is just 47MB, I expected a seamless experience. Unfortunately, Lara Croft: Reflections completely malfunctioned during my first stab at downloading, so I deleted the app and gave it another shot. The second try was the charm, but once I started playing, it completely went buggy once again. After a few card battles, my stamina was already used up. Since I had only several minutes of actual action and anything I tried to tap on the screen wouldn't yield a response, I was befuddled to the point of sheer frustration.

Even though my screen was relatively frozen, my stamina levels would increase every couple of minutes, so I assumed that once my bar was filled, everything would be fine.

After a quick breakfast, I checked my iPad and my stamina bar was almost filled, but there was still no response whenever I touched the screen. I immediately powered down my tablet for a few seconds and hoped that everything would be fine on the restart. Sure enough, Lara Croft: Reflections finally started working after almost a half hour's worth of disappointment.

In fairness, Lara Croft: Reflections is undergoing a soft launch, so you can download the game if you have an App Store account in New Zealand and Australia. And even if you experience the same bug issues during your trial run, it's still a free to play title that, once it gets going, isn't such a bad adventure. One of the app's pluses is that there's a ton of Lara on Lara fights to be had, since Ms. Croft's explorations have led to the opening of an alternate dimension.

Stamina levels also don't evaporate into thin air within a few minutes. Once you actually get the app to work, you'll be able to play a healthy portion of the game sans any lag time. Leveling up completely refreshes your energy, and progressing through the first 10 levels can be done with the greatest of ease.

Although most of the encounters are card based, there is also an occasional bonus encounter wherein Lara can eviscerate her enemies for experience points. This gorilla is felled by rapidly swiping a finger across your screen several times, and other bonus rounds, which may require our heroine to shoot at a target, will employ touch and tap mechanics.

Lara Croft: Reflections' success depends on your personal passion for card games. Do you dig dialogue driven tales with serviceable 2D graphics? Are you an upgrade fanatics who loves seeing every single card get leveled up? I'm more than fine with placing outstanding visuals and addictive beat 'em ups on pause for a few moments to play this app, especially since I'll follow Lara wherever she goes. I also love the strategy involved in powering up one's cards to enhance one's battle prowess and unlocking treasure chests, especially if you dig receiving free stuff, which never gets old.

On a personal level, ruthless thrusting wouldn't be a power I'd deny, especially since many women love alpha males.

Lara Croft: Reflections, after its initial speed bumps, is a diverting enough app that, if you love card games, is worth a peek. It doesn't exactly revolutionize the Lara Croft franchise, but for a free to play title, it does a decent job at delivering the goods. One hopes the bugs are fixed once this app hits stateside, but even with its flaws, tomb raiding is always fun with an able (and unabashedly sexy), heroine by your side.


App Store Link: Lara Croft Reflections for iPhone & iPad | By Smile-Lab Co., Ltd  | Price: Free | Version: 1.0.1 |  47.0 MB | Rating 12+

6.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating