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Tomb Raider E3 2011 Preview

Tomb Raider

Lara Croft has been an idol for male and females alike but the next Tomb Raider will feature a young, inexperienced Lara who, although still very determined, is going to have to deal with some very difficult physical and mental challenges. And we’re not talking about The Crystal Maze here. Instead, while on her first relic hunting mission with her mentor, our 21-year old heroine is washed onto an unforgiving and inhospitable island somewhere near Japan after her boat is wrecked in a storm. To survive Lara is going to need to gain her bearings, find food and drink and look for a way off the island. It sounds like the plot of Lost but don’t expect to see any polar bears nor perfect hair.

Tomb Raider

It’s clear from the very beginning of our demonstration that the new Tomb Raider experience is going to be very unkind and gritty for Lara. Don’t expect an irritatingly soppy Lara though, just a spirited young individual who is very human and hasn’t survived being shot, stabbed and clawed a million times in her life yet. Motion capture combined with good use of the camera mean that Lara’s physical and emotional suffering is well transplanted onto the player and there may be some moments that prove cringe worthy. We saw a fair chunk of the beginning of the game and we believe describing the events would be too large a spoiler, so instead we shall simply point out some of our gameplay findings.

Tomb Raider

The new Tomb Raider focuses largely on puzzles and combat while exploring the island. We saw a few puzzles which seemed well thought-out and logical, although this is a demonstration so whether all puzzles remain of high quality remains to be seen. Puzzles are made more complex by incorporating use of the physics engine and also the elements, such as fire and water. UI is kept to a minimum throughout the game, but to help find the solution to a puzzle the player can make use of Lara’s ‘survival instincts’ which will occasionally highlight useful objects to the player when standing still. We didn’t get to see real time combat in action but Tomb Raider boasts a new combat system that will feature free-aiming.

Tomb Raider

The atmosphere in Tomb Raider is looking to be very well crafted. Not everyone is going have the huge screen and speaker system that we had, but the weather effects and the level of detail throughout were first-rate. We don’t like to admit it, but there were moments in a cave that had us on the edge of our seat and may have made us jump (a little). Here the camera was again put to good use to create a sense of claustrophobia and the echoing noise of wolves somewhere ahead was unsettling. We did however encounter a number of cinematic cut-scenes and quick-time events which may take a little too much control from the player and have an adverse effect on immersion.

Tomb Raider

Talking of control, Tomb Raider is still a 3rd person adventure title at heart and Lara will still need to do some running and jump moves, although don’t expect her to make it look like a breeze as the environment will sometimes break under her weight. We’re not calling Lara overweight, simply pointing out the extra realism elements the player will have to contend with. There is promise of more openness later-on when exploring the island, but interestingly there are a number of base camps around the island which can be used to quick travel, craft items or even upgrade Lara using points earned from missions. We like customisation but in a realistic survival adventure game we’re not quite sure how these RPG elements will fit in with the experience.

Tomb Raider

We came away from our demonstration feeling very positive about how the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise is shaping up to be. Lara’s new adventure is influenced from several games and movies, but the experience of the young Lara is unique to her and the story will this young girl develop from her humble beginnings into a strong willed conqueror. On paper this all sounds a bit wet and drippy but we envisage the player gaining respect for Lara as a character because of the ordeals she has to overcome. The overall atmosphere and the puzzle mechanics look spot-on but this could be spoilt by overuse of quick-time events and cinematic scenes. The only way to find out is to explore the island when Tomb Raider is released in the latter half of 2012 on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.

Tomb Raider

POBmaestro | 27th June, 2011
evilgiraffeman's picture
I'm really excited about this game. Yes, it's another reboot of a series which has already been reinvented in recent memory. But the trailers and this preview have really reignited my love for Tomb Raider.

Also, if anyone suggests that I only did a degree in archaeology because of Lara Croft they're very, very wrong. Honestly, I loved the subject irrespective of a well-endowed woman shooting up endangered species in exotic locales. Honestly.

I'm not in denial.
Dead Alive's picture
I'm really, really not a fan of reboots of anything, movies, games... but I'm actually gonna be a hypocrite and look forward to this. It's about time Lara was given a good solid game again. The last one I really enjoyed was Legend, and that was for the Arthurian story more than anything else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by evilgiraffeman View Post
Also, if anyone suggests that I only did a degree in archaeology because of Lara Croft they're very, very wrong. Honestly, I loved the subject irrespective of a well-endowed woman shooting up endangered species in exotic locales. Honestly.

I'm not in denial.
We all know you're only in it for the women!
POBmaestro's picture
I can see a few people having a renewed crush for Ms Croft

I've actually never owned a Tomb Raider title before because I am no good at puzzles. But after seeing this in action I am tempted to give it a go, largely because of the atmosphere. I'm not a fan of QTE but I'm hoping the puzzles can be intuitive to me this time around

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