Will Tomb Raider Venture Off the Beaten Path?

E3 2012: A behind-closed-doors demo sheds just enough light on Tomb Raider to leave us wanting to know even more.

by

'

We know that the upcoming Square Enix reboot of Tomb Raider serves as a kind of origin story for Lara Croft, showing the experience that turned her into the confident and capable adventurer and raider of tombs we're all familiar with. We know that it has a grimmer tone than earlier entries in the series; Lara gets bruised and bloodied, and commits some shocking (but, under the circumstances, necessary) acts to survive. But there's still so much we don't know about the game. The term "dynamic exploration" was mentioned at an E3 press conference, but what does that really mean? We've seen some linear action sequences; how much of the game will consist of this sort of thing? How much freedom to explore will you really have? Will Tomb Raider play like an Uncharted game with a darker tone, or will it have elements that give it an identity of its own?

Today, we saw a behind-closed-doors, non-playable demo that gave us a tantalizing glimpse at the potential answers to some of these questions, but kept much under wraps. Picking up where last year's E3 demo ended, it initially saw Lara moving along narrow ledges and running down narrow paths. The gameplay clearly didn't offer much freedom at this stage, but it gave us an opportunity to take in the impressive natural beauty of Lara's surroundings, as well as her believable animations and the shifting camera angles that emphasized the danger she was in--when crossing a log that bridged a chasm, for instance, the camera looked down on Lara and the yawning abyss below.

At one point, Lara had to climb the wreckage of a crashed plane, and here, the Uncharted influence seemed apparent; the plane began to slide down as she climbed, creating a sense of urgency as she scrambled up before the plane fell down.

Soon, Lara acquired a bow from a corpse, and a bit later, she commented to herself about how hungry she was. As it so happened, a deer was nearby; the player used the bow to fell the creature, and as Lara approached it, she was clearly distraught at having to take the animal's life by hand for her sustenance. This left us wondering if you'll actually need to be aware of things like Lara's hunger and thirst throughout the game and manage them by hunting animals and finding supplies of water, or if this was just a story element. It was clear that various types of animals inhabit parts of the island, and we hope that the island's ecosystem is something you need to rely on throughout the game.

Lara then made her way to a camp, and here, the element of character progression was introduced. Using acquired survival points (which appear to be the game's version of experience points), the player purchased an upgrade that allowed Lara to recover more of her own fired arrows from enemies and animals. Later in the demo, salvage that Lara had collected around the island was used to upgrade a tool, enabling her to use it to open a door she previously couldn't. This glimpse of character progression was promising, but left us wondering just how deep this element runs. How many types of upgrades are there? How much of an impact do they have on the experience? Sadly, these questions went unanswered.

Also unclear was just how much exploration the game will offer. It appeared at times as if there was room to explore off the narrow path that the player followed during the demo, but we have no way of knowing how far the terrain stretches in either direction and what sorts of things you might find if you do go exploring. Rather than taking the opportunity to explore, the demo showcased the kind of fierce action Tomb Raider will offer: at one point, Lara stabbed a wolf through the mouth with an arrow, and at the end of the demo, after an intense struggle with an island inhabitant for the control of a gun, Lara shot him in the head, with grisly results.

But it wasn't this shocking moment of violence that made the biggest impression on us. It was the glimpses we caught of the upgrade system and the potential hint of a need to manage Lara's survival by hunting. Elements like this could help Tomb Raider stand out from the crowd; it's frustrating, then, that so little of what we've seen sheds light on these aspects of the game, focusing instead on the combat and on linear, Uncharted-style platforming sequences. Linear sequences from time to time can ratchet up tension, but we hope they're not what this game is founded on. Lara is an explorer; we're still waiting to discover whether or not the island is a worthy birthplace for her talents.

'

Discussion

71 comments
muppen
muppen

I've grown up with this series so it's always been close to my heart. What I've seen so far from this new Tomb Raider looks amazing and I've seen a couple of different aspects of the game. I've seen one demo with exploring/hunting and the demo at the Microsoft press conference which was a linear action packed sequence. I think if Crystal Dynamics keeps a good balance between exploring, puzzles and action it'll be everything I hope for in a Tomb Raider game. Plus I love the new Lara. She is much more human and emotional which makes her more likable (to me) and I think it'll be awesome to see her transformation throughout the game. Definitely one of my most anticipated games from this years E3.

Zeeksie
Zeeksie

Okay, I can understand when people on this very website can't make a difference between publishers and developers, but when a Gamespot editor does that, it becomes kind of tragic.

It's bad enough developers hardly get any credit for their work since the publishers are always the first to be mentioned and now journalists disregard developers?

 

No wonder the name "Crystal Dynamics" doesn't ring a bell to anyone these days.

thefloorhugger
thefloorhugger

To say im excited for this game will be an understatement 

Ratatoskr321
Ratatoskr321

If all of their promises are true, I can't wait to get this game but if it does just become another Uncharted clone, I'm passing. Since it seems so awesome now, I'd be really disappointed if that were the case.

VickersZombie
VickersZombie

I am extremely glad to see that they are taking great lengths to remake Lara, turn her into a real person that can become a likable and admirable character that someone can be inspired by instead of the tragically bland Mary Sue that Lara Croft always was before this point.

 

This is looking amazing and my most anticipated game in a long time.

Cataclysmm
Cataclysmm

i am loving what i am seeing so far.

wexorian
wexorian

I would call this game lara croft not tomb raider because we have not seen yet any Magic ARtefact or monsters Only Mad PPL and cultists i presume were shown, if there is No artefact It's not tomb raider all should agree :))

filben
filben

I always loved the puzzles, action and especially the climbing and being at mysterious and wonderful places. But I also like new ways like on Splinter Cell. I don't really "hate" any game, I'm too much "gamer at heart" for that. So I'm very excited for this new title, I've spent about 15 years with Tomb Raider, I was very attracted to the nextgen titles back then (started with TR: Legend) and after five and three titles with the same gameplay I'm okay with something new.

LandauTST
LandauTST

I still don't like the fact she starts off weak, constantly screaming, crying, complaining, etc. I also don't like the facts that they almost make it sound like this reboot is a back story to the REAL Lara Croft. By "real", I mean the good Lara Croft people like me grew up with in the 90's. She was never a weakling. She was trained at a young age to go exploring, discover artifacts and unravel mysteries in the process. She never became brave simply because she had no choice. She was BORN into the role and that's why she was always so strong and confident.

 

I have no doubt this new game will be good, but this is still not the Lara Croft that I know. The old Lara could kick this one's ass any day. Also, I feel this game would've been much better with an original character and title all together. That's me, though, I guess. It doesn't feel like a Tomb Raider game at all. More like "Cavern Survivor" so far. And the fact they made her say "I hate tombs..." at one point is seriously just a slap in the face to the old series and its fans. Seriously. To sum it up: This whole thing is an EXTREME love/hate type of thing for me. 

1947gamer
1947gamer

I have always loved the searching and climbing around to find things in Tomb Raider. Having some enemies is good but I hope they don't over do it. She looks great. If she gets cleaned up after going through water and then gets dirty again climbing around that would make it realistic. Can't wait. Hope the put off is worth it.

jackctu
jackctu

What of seen of this game so far is amazing. However I do hope its just not just running and gunning + tons of scripted sequences were you have to survival a plane falling off the edge of a mountain. I want it to be like the classic Tomb Raiders, with PLENTY of puzzle solving and venturing into old tombs and having to go back and forth around the level to grab keys and open doors in different areas.

 

If just follow one path and shoot everyone that you see with a bow, I will be pretty annoyed. Too many good franchises have been ruined.

the_requiem
the_requiem

I'd like to see how this one differentiates from Uncharted. I've had my fill of Uncharted and don't think wanna play another UC or UC clone. But if they do the exploration and survival elements well enough, I just might be interested.

thorn3000
thorn3000

yop, hope it will be exploring based, freedom freedom freedom oi!

Pelezinho777
Pelezinho777

What deers ever done to gaming community? First Connor,now Lara...Leave poor deers alone...

tailso
tailso

To suffer so much intense pain and injury....god i want to have her babies......pleeeeeease.

tevic
tevic

GTA 4 I meant.

tevic
tevic

Very good remarks. BTW I found GTA V too scripted and sometimes anoyingly so. There's much less connection with what you do when a game cheats on you, gives you the illusion of freedom, and in the end forces your hand.

 

I hope it's a direction game developers will understand they should avoid but if even Rockstar does it I fear for the worst.

seany1399
seany1399

stop bitching...evry game takes influences from other games, its how games are made, and how they grow, yay me

Purple-turtle-X
Purple-turtle-X

The 1st thing that caught my eye on the new Tomb Raider is that she's all battered & bruised, which I loved!!! She's always so damn perfect. It was a fresh of breath air to see her suffering & bleeding a bit ya know.All I'm saying is I love her new hard core look. :) Makes her more credible. 

Frimmel
Frimmel

The problem with this game is they shouldn't call it "Tomb Raider" but they can't really call it anything else as it would be criticized for just not calling itself "Tomb Raider." Were it not "Tomb Raider" it might be allowed more of a chance to stand on its own merits instead of it's not this and it's not that.

solidsnakehd
solidsnakehd

Its just a copy of uncharted but also great.

twistedmalice
twistedmalice

the gameplay looks amazing. It is a more gruesome in the way she kills.  the shooting aspect looks great.  Now I just need to see the exploring aspect.  I think it will do well.

jarheadalex
jarheadalex

I hope the hunger and thirst elements don't become too important and regular. I want a game that's about action, exploration and puzzles. Not the sims.

JohnMark320
JohnMark320

This game should be Snake Eater on steroids. Plus, an open-world island environment with several side missions / stranded survivor plot lines that integrate within the main story arch would be gold. But like the author, I'm really hesitant that it won't be the case. Here's hoping I'm dead wrong.

TheDudeman420
TheDudeman420

Games like this are what is wrong with E3. All flash and no substance. This article is great because it makes that part very clear. What little was showed on the stage demo and now in the hands-on demo for the Gamespot staff, it is very hard to say what this game will be like. It seems to me that whatever was shown is a very tight and scripted sequence with a lot of shock and awe that is delivered through gratuitous amounts of violence. I guess they are trying to get people to pre-order this game or something.

Personally, I'm gearing up for a disappointing end product which will have nothing to do with the original Tomb Raider except for the name. The game seems to be another form of pandering to the mass public (in this case, by cloning Uncharted) and refusing to stay true to franchise roots. 

sarita9891
sarita9891

the best part was in the trailers lara said " I hate TOMBS!" i laughed my ass off there xD

GhoX
GhoX

If it turns out to be as much of a survival game as it is an action game, then I will be genuinely impressed.

Goldrock
Goldrock

well yeah no artifact hunting yet this is a origin story all the other games her purpose was to find artifacts this is a story making her haren up and become the hardened woman she is in the other games.

Savoritias
Savoritias

Now I understand what a gamer who is seeing a series he has been playing for so long go away....

Peter_Eater
Peter_Eater

This game looks more and more appealing to me.

I am really looking forward to this one.

Too bat it was delayed to 2013...

Elann2008
Elann2008

I want it to venture off the beaten path.  The old Tomb Raider games are drab.

XenoNinja
XenoNinja

I was hoping for some ancient tomb exploring and artefact hunting, but because this looks more on trying to survive being stranded on the Island, I can't see that happening.

3nd_Of_The_Lin3
3nd_Of_The_Lin3

 @wexorian Indeed, however there is a clip that shows us Lara saying: "I hate tombs.", leading me to think that we will get to raid a tomb eventually (hopefully). :)

Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

 @LandauTST  oh please not everyone stars out a bad ass, people become bad ass through life experiences.  quit your whining.

cxmnky
cxmnky

 @tevic It's pretty difficult to allow for absolute freedom in gameplay when you're trying to tell a cohesive story.  At some point, you've got to guide the player to specific points in a certain order to tell that story...the tough part is making it not seem so obvious.

ZOD777
ZOD777

 @tevic They admitted that it is linear, but that there are more open expanses that make the game feel less confined than previous platformer style tomb raider games.

cxmnky
cxmnky

 @RE4GreatesGame Way to fixate on the only difference between TR and UC, originally.  If you look at UC1 and TRL/A/U and take away the combat mechanics which are very different, you have the same damned game.  Platforming, puzzling, overall theme are the same.  The difference was only in the focus.  UC1 focused more on story and combat than puzzling and platforming which is why the latter were so bad.  TRL/A/U focused on the platforming and the puzzling which is why their combat and storytelling were so lackluster.  Only die hard ND fanboys refuse to see the influences UC got from the TR franchise, just like TR fanboys are the only ones who refuse to see the UC influences this game is taking.

burgeg
burgeg

 @RE4GreatesGame No. Just no. If you honestly think Uncharted didn't completely rip the platforming mechanics from Tomb Raider Legend, you're either a fanboy or an idiot. It did the combat differently. You act like that's a major innovation. They copied the cover based shooting mechanics from Gears of War. To sum up Uncharted, it's basically Tomb Raider meets Gears of War with some extra cinematic flair. Uncharted has NEVER innovated.

 

By the way, the aspects of Tomb Raider that UC took weren't done as well, and I dare you to try and argue otherwise. Platforming, puzzle solving in UC are basically a poor mans Tomb Raider. As for exploration aspects of TR, they're non existant in UC. Go play TR Anniversary and you'll see what I mean. It's just that TR has terrible action, whereas action is the strong point of UC. The two series actually have VERY different playstyles.

 

To sum up, what UC took from TR it didn't do as well. But it went a different direction with the action, which was obviously better than the action in TR(as if that was hard to do).

 

Now as for this game. It's doing the action well by borrowing the action set piece cinematic style from UC, which is a first for TR. The actual Tomb Raider gameplay style it's going its own direction with, and will probably do it even better than previous Tomb Raider games.

currere
currere

 @RE4GreatesGame Personally, I always thought Uncharted borrowed more from Indiana Jones than Tomb Raider, which I suspect is also Tomb Raider's main influence.

cxmnky
cxmnky

 @Frimmel Question is, would people even be talking about this game if it didn't have the Tomb Raider name strapped to it?  A big reason people are intrigued is because they have an image in their head of what TR games are like, and this game is giving them something different and the differences are what their curious about.  If it was a brand new IP, I'm wondering if people would be so riveted.  I mean, they'd look at it, say it was interesting looking, and likely move on until more info came out.  With the TR name attached to it, people are left speculating as to what changed and what didn't.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

@solidsnakehd I wouldn't say it's just a copy. It sounds like it has a little more to it than just a fairly linear plot. How many times has Uncharted given you the opportunity to go back to an area to make use of an item you've chosen to upgrade? And let's not forget that when Uncharted first came out it was most commonly compared (rightly or not) to Tomb Raider. We've come full circle.

burgeg
burgeg

 @solidsnakehd You do realise Uncharted copied the ENTIRE platforming mechanics from Tomb Raider Legend, and hasn't changed them since, right? All this has is some linear action set pieces similar to Uncharted. 

Wizallah
Wizallah

They are showing us only select portions of the game so far. I wouldn't count those things out yet as it's still early. They want to show us what makes this game "the new Tomb Raider". Besides, it wouldn't be a Tomb Raider game if you didn't raid tombs. ;)

XenoNinja
XenoNinja

 @Wizallah yeah true, but I think this is based before the first game, so I'm guessing her tomb raiding will begin after this.

Cypher321
Cypher321

 @RE4GreatesGame That's exactly the post that a fanboy would make. To suggest that Uncharted didn't borrow extensively from Tomb Raider is laughable.

cxmnky
cxmnky

 @RE4GreatesGame okay, there's no point in talking to you.  You're obviously an immature fanboy who'd rather just stick their fingers in their ears screaming "i'm not listening!".  Or your just trolling.  Either way, you're a waste of space.

Gantrathor
Gantrathor

@RE4GreatesGame

 If you can't come up with any credible reasons to back up your opinions, don't bother posting anything. You just come off as a moronic fanboy.

 

The fact is, Uncharted borrowed extensively from several different properties, including Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones. ESPECIALLY Indiana Jones, right down to the snarky, treasure hunting protagonist. Does that make it a bad game? Absolutely not. That's how new IPs are created: You borrow lots of ideas and make something unique. But completely ignoring the fact that Uncharted was inspired by Tomb Raider just shows that you're incapable of processing simple thought patterns. One of the main complaints from critics was how derivative it was of other games. The review right here on Gamespot summed it up as "Tomb Raider meets Gears of War," so saying that "UC has NEVER been compared to TR" is completely false.

 

I also like how you seem to think that every PS3 gamer loves Uncharted, and that lowly Xbox gamers envy it: " I can GUARANTEE that the majority of fans who are supporting Tomb Raider will be Xbox 360 gamers. Why? Well they don't have Uncharted." Fun fact: Not every PS3 gamer likes Uncharted. In fact, a lot of them absolutely hate it. And there's nothing wrong with that, because (most of the time) the people who hate it have credible reasons for disliking it. And at least most of them don't prowl the internet, searching for articles about Uncharted, with the intent of trolling fans of the series (like you just did with Tomb Raider.)

 

If you were really a fan Uncharted,  you would have respect for Tomb Raider and everything that it's done for adventure games, because, frankly, the series that's obviously so precious to you wouldn't exist if it weren't for Tomb Raider coming along. And if you were really a fan of adventure games, you would appreciate the cues that the new Tomb Raider is taking from Uncharted and enjoy that, too. That's how this industry grows: people borrow ideas from one another and put they're own special spin on it. Uncharted borrowed from Tomb Raider, and now Tomb Raider is borrowing from Uncharted. That's a GOOD thing.

 

Now, if you don't want to have a mature conversation with the fine people on this comment board, then go back to your PS3 and gawk at pictures of Nathan Drake, because God knows that's the public image that you've painted of yourself. Well done, pretentious fanboy. *applause* 

 

currere
currere

 @RE4GreatesGame I know that "The Last Of Us" was brewing in the minds of some NDI devs for some time before it became an actual project, and that it therefore predates U3, and that it didn't come to be as a result of anything related to Uncharted (except tech-wise and gameplay elements)

 

"The Last Of Us" is going to be outstanding, and I for one will won't mind me some more Uncharted too. You might be right, Uncharted is bigger franchise than "Crash" an "Jak", so it is very possible that NDI will stick with, especially in the current climate and given that the competition between MS and Sony will be even tougher next generation since neither of them will allow the other to get a head start.

 

One thing is for certain. Sony is going to make sure that one of the PS4 launch titles is developed by NDI, as one of their heaavy-hitters. But I guess only time will tell if it's going to be Uncharted. Regardless, I'm looking forward to anything coming from Naughty Dog.

 

Oh, and it'll be interesting to see what Tomb Raider will turn out to be as well... I hope Carolyn is right, that there's more to the game than they've shown us.

currere
currere

 @RE4GreatesGame I agree, gameplay-wise it seems this installment of Tomb Raider borrows more from Uncarted than vice-verca when Uncharted was launched.

 

I'm not so sure they're developing a forth game. It seemed to me that exhausted the relationship between Elena and Drake, and that they didn't have that passionate creative drive with Uncharted 3 (which is still an awesome game, just not as innovative) that they seemed to have with 1 and 2, which I suspect is the reason they are making The Last Of Us instead of number 4. Also, NDI has had a different franchise for each generation of consoles, and I suspect they will make a new and even more awesome game-series for PS4.

10V3n0M01
10V3n0M01

 @XenoNinja Maybe, while she is taking refuge to hide from her captors she finds herself in a tomb which she goes on to explore and finds treasure. This then blossoms into her interest in tomb raiding. You never know :)