Next in the series of games to look forward to this year is a familiar name: Tomb Raider. Though it’s been 15 years since we first set eyes on Lara Croft, the series still has plenty of life in it, as we’ll see in the 2012 reboot of the franchise.
Of course, dear Lara wouldn’t have made it this far without Crystal Dynamics, which rescued Tomb Raider from the pits in 2006 by creating Tomb Raider: Legend. The developer introduced to us a new Lara Croft that not only looked better, but also one that had a grittier, tougher personality than the cartoon-ish Lara of the Eidos days.
For 2012, Crystal Dynamics is due to release its best Tomb Raider game, simply dubbed “Tomb Raider” to reflect the reboot. Already, it’s been greeted with plenty of hype, not only because of its iconic role in video game history, but also because it’s going to show us a side to Lara Croft we’ve not seen before – one that tones down the sexuality and Bond-like invulnerability of the heroine, and plays up the tough-as-nails survivalist side of her.
What we know so far: The trailer for Tomb Raider 2012 reveals the dark, gritty tone that CD intends to portray. In it, we see Lara thrown out of a boat at sea during a storm, battered, bruised and lost on a mysterious island. She can jump, but unlike previous versions where she would acrobatically catch the ledge and climb to safety, she slips and falls. When wounded, she bleeds, hobbles, and writhes with pain.
The Lara Croft that we once knew – the rich and adventurous treasure seeker – is gone, and in her place is one that is vulnerable, scared, and has human limitations. The perfect setting for a survivalist game.
Gameplay: Gathering from various interviews and in-game previews, the game is going to be a mix of survivalist, exploration and adventure gaming. “So we’ve built these hub areas, which are connected across the whole island,” says Crystal Dynamics brand director, Karl Stewart in an interview with PSM3.
“When you first arrive in an area you’ll need to go from point A to B to get through the story objective, but once you’ve cleared the area you’ll be able to fast-travel back to it and really explore it to find new things and unlock new parts of the game.”
Compared to previous games, she would only have limited tools at her disposal like pickaxes, which would be used to access different areas, act as weapons, and solve certain puzzles. Those who’ve played Arkham City would be familiar with Tomb Raider’s gameplay, which is linear, but not to a fault and allows for a degree of exploration to take place.
The main point that CD is pushing with the reboot is to portray Croft as a character you can relate and sympathise with, not some double-gun shooting heroine that looks like Angelina Jolie. “You’re not going to take a 20ft jump off a cliff, because injury will play a big part in the game’s realism. When Lara is injured you won’t be able to climb as freely,” Stewart said.
Verdict: For years, the franchise has been treated with skepticism, but we’re glad to finally see a game that we’re anticipating, not just because it’s Tomb Raider, but it looks to be an excellent all-round game that scares, thrills, and makes you think. Watch out for its release in Fall 2012.