Our beloved raider of our ancestors’ tombs is back, but in a new skin, new setting and with new ways to survive while disturbing the peace of many dead and mentally unstable. Lara is back!
The Tomb Raider that’s currently in development is aiming to grab people’s attention with some absolutely mind-blowing style. Crystal Dynamics went for the good old origin story and finally started with a much needed clean slate. Of course, we all loved the previous games with Lara Croft shooting endangered animals while doing double-backflips but it was time to change direction and introduce the much-needed origin story with the new Lara. To commence awesomeness, please press “Total Reboot”.
We managed to play a quite lengthy demo of the game, where the young and inexperienced Lara Croft had to find her friends. The amount of work that’s gone into this game is huge. Finally, the movement and the fighting systems are simply just right and you no longer have to fight with dodgy camera angles. Considering all the changes, one stands out more than the others; The ultimate change of tone. From killing dinosaurs, Lara has to fight for survival by overcoming hunger and hunting for food and most importantly, by taking human lives. This shift will not only be visible and sensible from the very beginning but it changes the way players will need to think about Lara Croft. Throughout the demo, there were about three occasions where we had to start from the checkpoint because of failing to tackle certain challenges that the game threw at us. The way that people played the previous Tomb Raiders needs to be reset as well and even though the game helps you with that, there can be quite a few surprises that can leave your jaw resting on the floor.
There is a simple, but intuitive, experience and looting system. Finding certain raw materials can have advantages as Lara learns, for example, that collecting arrows from dead enemies is probably a good idea, and enforcing your tools can help open heavier chests and doors. The game also has a lot of platforming, which is normal, but it aims to keep up with the industry by having some great camera angles and cinematic viewing angles. Stealth also seemed to be a crucial part in Lara’s survival but we had little access to that aspect yet. Another interesting thing is that there’s a huge map that looked like a possible small sandbox (on a small island, mind you) but again, our access at this time didn’t allow us to confirm that for sure.
Graphically the game is superior to its predecessors and having spent a couple of minutes just to look around our protagonist every time we got to a new section, it was clear that the art direction and its execution is just perfect. As mentioned above, the character modelling is great (especially on Lara) and finally we have a “real looking woman” and not an over-hyped silicon-babe as our main protagonist. Despite of all these changes, Lara Croft looks beautiful. She’s sexy, fragile and has everything that she would need to grab people’s attention; she doesn’t need the huge watermelons anymore. This is also true of the environment. There’s no going overboard with the environments, so now the challenges will fit to this fragile looking, young and frightened woman. The best example for this great fit, between the level and our main character, from our demo was when Lara saw a bow on a hanged man and wanted to get it. It sounds like a small task but executing it without super-triple-backflips it might prove a bit tougher than it looks.
Of course, Square Enix would not have approved all this if it meant taking the fun out of it, so there are some sneaky back doors that the players might or might not realise while playing the game. We wouldn’t want to spoil these little helping tools as it might change your opinion of the game but, rest assured, Crystal Dynamics have kept your entertainment in mind at all times.
Tomb Raider will certainly be one of those games that you should keep an eye on as it will not only satisfy the hardcore fans but everyone who likes good narrative and an all-round enjoyable game. We are most definitely looking forward to the return of Lara Croft in this new Tomb Raider.
Don’t forget to read our Tomb Raider interview with Meagan Marie, Community & Communication Manager at Crystal Dynamics.