E3: Rise of the Tomb Raider



At the Xbox press conference we saw a short gameplay demo of Rise of the Tomb Raider.  One of our main comments was that, although beautiful on the eye, we were jonsing to see Lara get back into the action.  Thankfully, Xbox had a little more up their sleeve.

Behind closed doors in the exhibit, Xbox ...

rise of the tomb raider

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider Gameplay Demo

At Xbox's E3 press conference earlier this week we saw a short gameplay demo for Rise of the Tomb Raider.  One of our main comments was that, although beautiful on the eye, we wanted so see more of Lara getting back into the action.  Thankfully, Xbox had a little more up their sleeve.

Behind closed doors in the exhibit, Xbox are showing off a more comprehensive gameplay demo, and the action picks up right where the press conference demo left off.  Seperated from her expedition partner among the icey peaks of Sibera, Lara has to trudge through wind and snow in her quest to find a mysterious hidden city.  Like in the last game, Lara has to scavenge for items she'll need to survive.  Wood to make a campire and a bow.  Mushrooms and cloth to make bandages and poison arrows.  You can then upgrade your bow with items that you scavenge, such as animal hides.

What's really noticible in this gameplay demo is the attention to detail.  As Lara gets colder and colder, she begins to shake, violenty at times, and her teeth begin to chatter.  As a player you suddenly go, wow, this girl's in real danger.  The stakes seems so much higher.  It's these small touches which really bring Lara to life.  Crystal Dynamics want to tell a very human story with Rise, and Lara's character and how it's going to be shaped and moulded lies at the very heart of the game.  

After what must have been a terrible night's sleep, Lara is set upon by mercenaries who work for the mysterious Trinity, an organisation who wants to find the lost city just as much as she does, but for much more nefarious reasons (we can only assume).  Using the element of suprirse and a few poison arrows Lara dispatches the first few soldiers.  Lara's repetoire of violence has gone up a notch since the last game, and she can now utilise items she finds lying around to add to her arsenal.  Here we saw Lara light up a jerry can and wipe out 3 unsuspecting enemies, lured together using a radio an expired enemy had dropped.  The action is great, and there's a nice variety of stealth and out and out combat.  You can choose how you want to play, and there are a multiplicity of ways to defeat any enemy.

Once Lara bettered the mercs, she then faced an even deadlier challenge, a bear.  However, instead of jumping staight into combat, Lara's first instinct is to run.  Initially, Lara tries outrun the bear through deep snow but as the devs pointed out, deep snow slows you down, and after being treated to another grizzly Lara Croft death animation, the checkpoint was reloaded, and Lara easily evaded the bear on a second shoeing by taking the high ground.

From Lara's perch on top of the mountain we could then look down on one of the huge explorable areas in the game.  We were told these areas are three times bigger than anything accomplished in Tomb Raider, and although we didn't get to go down there and explore, we could see that the expanse of it was truly massive.

Not one to hang around, Lara was then skipped ahead a few levels.  Her makeshift bow had been traded in for a beautiful byzantine recurve bow, and her orange bomber for a more 'woman of the wilderness' look.  Now, it was time to take on the bear who'd taken up residence guarding the opening to an ancient tomb.  The combat here was great.  Lara's evasiveness flowed really well.  Her ducks and dives were smooth and natural, not jarring or non-directional.  She switched seamlessly between arrows and poison arrows, and the first aid felt just that bit neater than in the last game.  Taking minimal damage, Lara had defeated the bear, and could get back to what she does best, Tomb Raiding.

Verdict:

The combat was smooth, and organic, and the scavenging and upgraded sytem worked really nicely.  With great attention to detail, from the crunch of the snow, to the chattering of Lara's teeth in the sub-zero conditions, this Tomb Raider is shaping up to be not just a fantastic game, but a brilliant human story.