Lara Croft has had her fair share of adventures since the franchise’s initial release 16 years ago. As such there is no better time than now to celebrate over a decade and a half of tomb raiding. Following a traditional silver screen move of taking a franchise and going back to its origins by rebooting the title, the teams at Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have done just that. The rebooted and simply titled Tomb Raider will bring a more relevant and powerful heroine to the role of Lara Croft.
I managed to get my hands on the current build at Eurogamer and could not recommend this game enough, probably giving it the accolade of ‘Best in Show’. The Demo wasn’t very long but that was fine with me as what I did play promised great things to come when the game launches on 5th March 2013.
The first time I played the game, was early in the day and I just sat down to start out my adventure, with no queuing needed. The second time, I had to queue for 20 minutes but it was well worth the wait for 15 minutes of great action and intense story telling. It was evident throughout the Expo that people were talking about this game as the queues became longer and people I spoke to were listing this as either their favourite game of the show or at least placed it in their top 3.
The Demo includes everything you would want from an action adventure game as you scramble away from a plane wreck, climbing the wreckage to safety while chunks of plane fall away. You then try to find safety in a camp but soon realise you need food. Thankfully you conveniently stumble upon a corpse equipped with a bow and arrows hanging from a tree, which upon obtaining allows you to execute innocent looking deer.
The demo straight away captured me and drew me into Lara’s world. This wasn’t the confident, sexy tomb raider we had seen previously, this was a scared young woman trying to survive and make her way home safely. There is a moment after killing the deer that Lara returns back to the campfire and manages to contact her friend via a radio. After being told a meeting point, she instead asks to be picked up. Again this just shows that this young woman is a vulnerable Lara Croft as well a strong lead.
Don’t get the wrong impression; it is not a whimpering girl that will be taking the lead role in the new Tomb Raider game. At the end of the demo is a trailer that shows how Lara’s story continues and the gradual progression she makes into a strong female lead. A lot of people, both male and female audiences have been asking for a strong female lead and in the case of Tomb Raider, audiences can now have this without any gratuitous sexuality. This is a modern day Tomb Raider for a modern day audience. It may mean that some people will miss the bustier version of Lara Croft but I am confident that most will embrace the new change in this strong female lead.
When playing the demo I couldn’t help but feel like this was an opportunity for the Xbox audience to get their hands on Playstation exclusive Uncharted. In Tomb Raider, the gameplay felt very similar to that of the tales of Nathan Drake. From the way you jump across platforms and climb through debris to the way the character moves the influence from other games is evident and shows a great progression in the franchise, even though we are going back to the beginning of Lara’s adventure. This influence is not a bad thing as the Tomb Raider franchise suits it well and the controls work brilliantly to make the player feel the sense of danger as well as control they need to play as Lara Croft.
There were some games at the Eurogamer Expo that really didn’t deliver on the graphic capability of current generation consoles but Tomb Raider looked beautiful, with great textures and animations. Crystal Dynamics could have waited and made this a launch title for the next gen consoles but with something that looked this great they didn’t need to.
I could not recommend this game enough and will be keeping my eye on further developments as this has now firmly cemented itself as a necessary purchase. I have to admit when I shot the deer, I thought that fans of Disney’s Bambi would be saddened but so was Lara, as the emotion was conveyed when she apologised before pulling back that bow and shooting. The emotional impact portrayed in Lara was great and the emotional response I had meant that Tomb Raider did its job in capturing me into its short but sweet demo. I can’t wait to continue Lara’s adventure in March 2013, the countdown has begun.