Tomb Raider Preview - PC, PS3, Xbox 36014 Dec 2011
Back in the 90s, a little video game emerged that took the world by storm. This was a time when 3D graphics were relatively new and stories in games were little more than "save the princess, shoot the thing". Tomb Raider was a groundbreaking action adventure that launched the world's first digital cultural icon. 15 years later and we have seen Lara Croft in 8 further instalments, 4 spinoffs, 2 blockbusters movies and one reboot.
Now the gaming world is holding its breath for a brand new rebooted game dubbed "Tomb Raider". This time around Lara is a 21 year old student wet behind the ears on her first adventure aboard a ship off of the coast of Japan. When a vicious storm tears the ship apart, Lara washes upon a nearby island and is thrust into a terrifying fight for survival. One of the big focuses this time around is on scavenging for weapons, tools and supplies which are essential to survive the hostile world. Also in place will be a set of base camps where Lara can rest and combine her equipment to create more items in addition to being able to fast travel between camps in order to minimise the amount of backtracking.
Trailers shown at this year's E3 got many gamers excited with thrilling set pieces such as a breathtaking opening with Lara being held captive in a cave, burning her bonds to escape and then falling a dangerous height into a pile of human remains and getting a bone stuck in her leg which she then proceeds to viciously pull out. We can immediately see that this game is going to be a much darker take on the character that many gamers have grown up with. In addition, this was presented as actual gameplay and not a video sequence showing that we are in for a much more visceral experience where it appears that our hands will not be held throughout the adventure. Another gameplay change that will add to the theme of survival is the removal of the auto-aiming system employed in previous games. We have also been promised that Lara will not magnetize to the nearest ledge when climbing and that the puzzles will be much more complex than we have seen in the franchise. All of this combined with the lack of hints or user interface adds up to an experience that may well be more along the lines of Demon's Souls than Uncharted, reflected by the high age rating that is already being anticipated.
However the gameplay is not all that has whet the appetite of fans: the game looks incredible. Developers, Crystal Dynamics, are putting a strong emphasis on the environment (puzzles are going to include usage of water, fire, friction and rock) so painstaking levels of detail are apparent in the scenery. Character models also look brilliant due to the motion capture technology being implemented so hopefully none of the silly ragdoll physics that were in place in the history of the franchise.
Tomb Raider is due to be released in the third quarter of 2012 and is set to bring a whole new dimension possibly the most iconic video game franchise of all time.