A time before the tombs
What makes an adventurer? What are the events that take an average person and turn them into a hardened survivalist? Apparently it’s a shipwreck, a remote island, dangerous animals, violent mercenaries, and people that need saving. In the new Tomb Raider, developer Crystal Dynamics explores all of these things as it reintroduce reinvent Lara Croft’s character and tells the origin story of one of gaming’s legendary protagonists.
This time around, Tomb Raider takes on a much grittier and rougher feel. The environments are dark and foreboding, Lara is covered in dirt and dried blood, and the situation is dire. This is Lara at the beginning, no high tech toys or advanced weapons. Instead she has a simple bow and the will to survive. It’s new, but it still feels like the Tomb Raider of old, with lots of climbing, shimmying along cliff faces, and exploration.
My time with Lara was at what I assumed is the beginning of the game. A quick tutorial of how the controls worked led me to exploring the dense jungle. As I progressed, there are cinematic events that play out as you interact with the environment, such as climbing the wing of a plane that is suspended in a tree, only to have it shake loose and crash to the jungle floor. There is a lot of jumping in and out of control of Lara, but it didn’t feel jarring.
Eventually, I came to an abandoned camp with some dead bodies hanging from trees. After obtaining a bow, I got to experience the combat system by hunting a poor defenseless deer. It’s a pretty basic system; hold the trigger to pull back the bowstring, release to fire. You can increase the power, and the deadliness by holding the trigger down longer. Careful not to hold the trigger for too long though, or the arrow will fire off all on it’s own. but not too long or the arrow just fires off on its own.
After the hunt, a video of what’s to come was shown and things didn’t seem any better for Lara. In fact, it looked downright grim for her with even more falling from high places, getting injured and facing some gruesome horrors. The story seemed intense at every turn and showed little sign of letting up.
The demo is all about setting the tone of the game to come. This Tomb Raider is not lighthearted; it’s a serious tale of struggle and personal growth. Even when killing the deer, I was left with a feeling like it was something I had to do, to survive. The player is going to discover what makes Lara Croft who she is and help her overcome obstacles. It’s never easy to reinvent an icon, but Crystal Dynamics seems up to the task.
The adventure begins on March 5, 2013 for 360, PS3 and PC.