And then I saw her face. Her dirty, determined, take-no-sh*t face. Now I'm a believer.
Tomb Raider is back, though sadly delayed until March 5, 2013. I had a chance to sit down with Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics this E3 to see how far they've come with it since I last checked in with them in 2011, and I'm happy to say I'm still pleased with where this game is going.
Environment and atmosphere are a make-or-break factor in my enjoyment of a game. In that vein, Tomb Raider long ago won me over. The rich, detailed textures are truly gorgeous and I love the setting, which lends itself well to switching between jungle and cave exploration (the latter of which I admittedly got to see more of at E3 last year). If you're apprehensive about the emphasis on the jungle setting in the footage released thus far, take heart; the plot direction leads me to believe there'll likely be more cave exploration than initially meets the eye.
And while Tomb Raider may rightfully deserve some comparison to Uncharted (such a strange role reversal from the Dude Raider days), I think Tomb Raider feels a bit more gritty and intense, which I like. The tension is crafted effectively with the use of wayward angles and camera jostles to draw you into a sense of disorientation, something that Uncharted seem to reserve for its bigger scenes like the opening of the sequel.
While a steady camera in a third-person view lends itself to an outsider-looking-in perspective, instead we get an impression of the impact on Lara as she struggles with the rugged landscape. The result to me is very humanizing. Her reaction to every trip, stagger, or fall communicates the very real difficulty of the terrain she faces, and in turn, her effort only becomes more impressive.
The trailer released this past week was actually a bit misleading, in my opinion, as it ended with Lara in a position of sexual vulnerability that left a lot of people feeling uncomfortable. Having now seen the entire sequence, I only feel that moment was redemptive and did much to explain how Lara transitioned from a vulnerable girl to a capable, take-charge woman.
That she had that moment as a result of a near sexual assault borders on almost irrelevant given the enormous trauma she goes through (the shipwreck, extreme weather conditions, injury, her sister's kidnapping, etc.) before she gets to that point.
As Lara rose from the ground having conquered her attacker, picking up a gun and setting her cold, determined glare on the camera, there was an audible gasp throughout the room. If looks could kill, E3 would have had a shocking amount of fatalities in the Square Enix booth this year. If you really think this "new" Lara is weak then I daresay you have as big a surprise coming to you as the dude she just kneed in the balls.
In fact some of the negative reaction to the E3 trailer showed me how much they've already managed to humanize her character. A lot of people seemed to care about her well being; they didn't like to see her in a position of weakness or victimization.
If Lara was truly the figure she's been made out to be, I think a lot of people would have enjoyed seeing her in such a vulnerable position. Their repulsion tells me something very positive. That some of the complaints were from long-time fans who cared about Lara long before the opening sequence of this reboot also helped in part to change my perspective on her.
To me, Lara is no longer a sex symbol in a videogame, but rather, a capable fictional character who just happens to be attractive. I like this new perspective. And while some of the cinematic shots did just seem like an excuse to stare at her breasts (which many would translate as an insincerity in the new angle they're pursuing), in the scope of the entire game, I feel I can forgive it. In fact, when I pointed it out to their creative director, he actually sounded open to working on it.
One thing I think they could do better is facial expressions, as Lara's face barely moves even when she's crying. I would also like the name of the black eyeliner that she and her sister seem to be using, because if it can truly last through all that jungle heat and moisture, then I should have picked up some before my trip to E3. Jokes aside, both observations seem like nitpicking.
I'm also curious to see how the combat and exploration aspects are balanced, as it doesn't feel like I've gotten an accurate picture between the two demo sessions I've seen thus far. It feels a bit condensed. I'm hoping it relies slightly less on firepower and a little more on alternative weapons like that sweet bow we saw in the trailer. Nonetheless, I can't wait for this March.
|11:45 AM on 04.19.2013|
Tomb Raider PC patch brings fixes, GPU performance
The PC version of Tomb Raider has been patched recently, resolving an issue with a basecamp UI glitch, and bringing in some appreciated GPU performance improvements. Eidos states that if you just want to test this patch, ther...more
|12:30 PM on 04.16.2013|
Three Tomb Raider DLC costumes have leaked
When Crystal Dynamics said they weren't going to support the new Tomb Raider with "expansions," gamers let out a sigh of relief -- for once, feeling like they bought a complete game at launch. But that doesn't mean some form ...more
|9:30 AM on 03.20.2013|
No plans for single-player Tomb Raider DLC
Those hoping for additional secret tomb challenges or other single-player content in Tomb Raider are due a disappointment. According to global brand director Karl Stewart, Crystal Dynamics will only be expanding multipla...more
|6:00 PM on 03.12.2013|
PC Port Report: Tomb Raider
[Want to know how a developer handled the PC version of a multiplatform game? Check out the PC Port Report for the full scoop.] Over the weekend, I had a chance to play the magnificent Tomb Raider. It's every bit as good as J...more
|4:00 PM on 03.11.2013|
Lara Croft is more than a survivor
For the past 48 hours, I have been completely enthralled in the world of Tomb Raider. Explosions, gun-fights, stealthy takedowns, weapon upgrading, and shooting defenseless bunnies has characterized my adventure, one that has...more
|10:30 AM on 03.11.2013|
Steam releases a patch for Tomb Raider
If you've been playing Tomb Raider on PC, you might want to restart Steam so that you can apply the latest patch. Mostly, it's just Nvidia graphical fixes, but there is one other addition that patches up a game breaking...more
|8:30 AM on 03.07.2013|
Lara Croft time-lapse painting makes you feel empowered
Our speed-painter pal Josh Summana is back with another lovely, lovely sippy cup of art juice. This time, he has set his sights on Lara Croft from the new Tomb Raider. It's definitely a lot more tasteful than the sick filth ...more
|1:30 PM on 03.06.2013|
Tomb Raider's multiplayer DLC hits Xbox 360 first
Tomb Raider's first downloadable content, the Caves and Cliffs Multiplayer Map Pack, will be coming first to Xbox 360 owners of the game. The pack will include three new maps (Scavenger Caverns, Cliff Shantytown, The Burning ...more
|3:00 AM on 03.06.2013|
Tomb Raider on PSN comes with Quantum Conundrum
You're in luck if you've held out on buying Tomb Raider on the PlayStation 3, as there's a killer deal available for the new action-adventure title. For $59.99, you can buy the "Digital Edition" of Tomb Raider on the PlaySta...more
|3:30 PM on 03.05.2013|
Watch Lara Croft die over and over again in Tomb Raider
The new Tomb Raider is out in stores today and marks the beginning of a fresh new take on the series. One of the things Crystal Dynamics wasn't afraid to do was let Lara get brutally killed time and time again. Like, serious...more
|7:00 AM on 05.23.2013|
Monster Hunter would be way better if it was like this
Sure, the meme is a bit old but the added sound effects to the Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate video is what really made this spoof for me. Bravo, Capcom-Unity. [Thanks, Dale!]more
|3:00 AM on 05.23.2013|
You will fight a tiger in Killer is Dead
The latest barrage of screens for Killer is Dead focuses on two of the bosses you'll encounter in the game. First there's Hamadayama, who rides around on a freaking tiger. Yes, a tiger. How badass is that? Then there's Samura...more
|7:00 PM on 05.22.2013|
WildStar's Paths accomodate specific MMO play styles
The new MMO on the block, WildStar, is gearing up for its release this year, and the developers at Carbine Studios are cranking out new details as we near that. As if making choices in MMO games weren’t tough enough, C...more