Lara enters uncharted territory
Tomb Raider presents an icon prepared to fight for survival.
After this year’s Sony conference you may believe there is only room in your life for one adventure involving a hero on a sinking ship. This would be a mistake. Uncharted 3 is undoubtedly on a course to wow the pants off us all, but in its wake Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider reboot continues to quietly impress; containing the potential – dare I say it – to threaten Drake’s throne.
Tomb Raider sees Lara stripped. No more auto-aim; no magnetism to nearby ledges – you start empty-handed and unless you plan on dying that way you will need to find and forge your survival kit as you go. The jet-setting Croft is gone, leaving behind the terrified girl you must keep alive long enough to become her.
In the E3 demo this girl is shipwrecked and imprisoned by a strange island’s inhabitants. You find her hanging from the ceiling. To escape you must swing until Lara’s bindings catch a nearby flame, dropping her bodily to the floor. These are the elements at play. No more impossibly heavy boulders and mathematically lined-up leaps; instead, basic yet diabolical puzzles introduce ropes that must be burned through by torches that must be kept out of water.
Outside of the puzzles, survival is more than just a narrative. Platforms crumble underfoot, Lara succumbs to a variety of brutal deaths and caves are tight, forcing claustrophobic Dead Space tunnel-vision. Base camps are your only hope, acting as safe hubs where Lara can develop skills and create weapons.
This focus on the immediacy of survival promises to be the adrenaline shot that again makes Tomb Raider a brand worth getting excited about. Whether or not it can hope to uproot Uncharted it’s clear that this is a title endlessly willing to adapt to survive.
Raiding past treasures
Unconvinced? Tomb Raider’s inspirations are just as promising. The origin story of Batman Begins was a big influence, Crystal Dynamics say, as were the environments of Uncharted (natch), the eagle vision of Assassin’s Creed, the struggle for survival in 127 Hours, and the mysterious island of Lost.