Eyes On: Tomb Raider

Crystal Dynamics’ behind closed doors gameplay demonstration of Lara Croft’s debut adventure (chronologically, at least) might well have been based on ‘early code’ but you couldn’t tell – the graphics were exemplary and the audio design is really pushing the boundaries of what we’d expect from a videogame. Sure, it’s clear the team have been keeping an eye on Naughty Dog of late but then Uncharted’s roots were never really that well covered up anyway – for gamers who love adventure, there’s clearly going to be a bit of choice this generation.

The gameplay demonstration started off at the same location as it did in Sony’s live press conference, with a young Lara awakening to find herself tied up in a sack, hanging upside down. With no HUD or obvious visual interface to speak of, the player’s only route forward is to start swinging the character, learning that the nearby flames are the sole escape device. The way the game conveys the sense of fear and danger is extraordinary, and even in these first few seconds, realising that you’ll need to set fire to Lara to proceed, the tension is high.

[drop]The fall downwards, accompanied with a rough landing on a sharp spike, sets up the character’s limping, bleeding gait for the remainder of the section. Unable to run and without weapons, Lara must use whatever’s nearby to make her way back to the surface. In the examples shown, this involved a few quick time events (with overlaid button images prompting the player) and some interesting physics challenges revolving around fire and water. Going beyond the press demo, Tomb Raider’s clearly not going to let players just run and gun, the sequence shown to us required some lateral thinking and a bit of imagination, creating an explosion and setting forth a cascade of barrels to open up new areas.

Tomb Raider’s pacing seems strong, with the thinking sections punctuated with attacks from humans and animals, and a desperate scramble up a slippery slope with the triggers, whilst dodging rocks. It’s hard to get a true feeling for the level when you’re being led by someone who’s worked on the game, but with tight schedules perhaps it’s the only way.

[drop2]Once out into the open, the developers showed us a brand new area and a new character, Roth. Injured by wolves, the old man is forced to sit it out (complete with some brilliantly acted and genuinely emotive cutscenes) whilst Lara does her thing, jumping and climbing towards the wolves’ den in order to pick up a vital piece of equipment. This more closely resembled Tomb Raider of old, and although our demonstrator fell a few times, the physics and the way Croft interacted with the environment felt very strong and dynamic.

It’s obvious that there’s going to be a considerable story to tell here and, from the few sequences we’ve seen, there’s scope for a really engaging plot – the way the exposition is delivered is genre leading (certainly up there with Drake’s recent outings) and whilst we’re not expecting every level to be as fresh and original as the ones shown, we have hopes that Crystal Dynamics are up to creating what looks like being one brilliant game.


  1. Possibly want this more than uncharted 3. Blasphemy?

    • Sacrilege! ;)

    • i have to agree. . . naughty dog are in trouble

    • Admit it, its because of Lara.

    • she’s no Chloe ;)

    • If it turns out as original as it sounds then I would agree!

    • If Naughty Dog keeps turning Uncharted into a generic TPS, then I also want this more…

  2. Love Uncharted, Uncharted2 in particular was awesome, but I’m looking forward to this a bit more. If done correctly this time around I love Tomb Raider’s pacing and puzzles as opposed to defeat 100 enemies, move 1.67 yards to next piece of cover, defeat hundred more enemies move 1.67 yards etc & etc (however involving the story is)

    Got high hopes for this and hopefully, it’s finally welcome back Lara

    • I agree. Can’t wait to get my hands on this. While I enjoy Uncharted very very much and I must confess that I skipped every Tomb Raider game since TR3, this seems like it will take the franchise to a whole new level at least on par with the likes of Uncharted. Let’s just hope they deliver but judging by what they have shown us so far, I’m pretty confident that the will.

  3. Love it!

  4. Well, this is very very promising indeed! More high calibre adventure games please!

  5. A choice?
    Nay, I’m buying them both!
    I love Tomb Raider! I may prefer Uncharted, but Tomb Raider games will ALWAYS command my attention.
    Btw, it was Microsoft’s conference, not Sony’s that had Tomb Raider, but we forgive you. :P

    • Uncharted3 Oct/Nov 2011
      Tomb Raider 2012

      No choice required

      • Even better!
        The Vita is already going to be stretching my budget.
        One less mad scramble to get money. :)

      • Late 2012 though :(

  6. Loving the look of this one. Commanded my attention indeed.

  7. Just can’t wait for this one.

  8. Shaping up nicely.

  9. I really liked the injury aspect of the whole thing. far too many games just heal you if you sit still for a while. time to see some consequences to your actions i say

    • MGS3 did this quite well for its time in my opinion. It will be nice to see how much injuries affect the game or if they are just included in set pieces.

      They may really make players consider their actions and add a new tactical angle to the game. Looking forward to finding out!

  10. I don’t know why everyone’s obsessed with comparing TR with Uncharted. Uncharted is nothing like tomb raider!

    • Actually, looking from the TR trailer shown at E3, Lara has borrowed a lot from the Naughty Dog series ;)

      • A more cinematic style maybe, but in turn, Uncharted also has a lot to thank Tomb Raider for.

    • Really? Denial is the first phase… Gameplay-wise they have a lot in common.

      • Really? :S
        Tomb Raider has a lock on system and focuses less on enemies and more on puzzles, she also can’t jump to save her life (literally!)

        Uncharted plays a lot smoother, the only real similarity is that treasure is a main focus, though less so in Uncharted imo.

    • …and the Prince of Persia series!

      Which could be first… but who cares, lets just see if its a good game :D

Comments are now closed for this post.