Tomb Raider Preview
With Tomb Raider it’s fair to say that, over the past few years, Eidos and Crystal Dynamics have struggled to get a good foot hold in this generation. Sure Underworld was a reasonable title and at least updated the mechanics and visual a little but they struggled to find the same level of investment from gamers than the new king was getting.
It’s easy to blame Uncharted for the slow demise of the Tomb Raider franchise but in all honesty Eidos had the same tools at its disposal as Naughty Dog did when they unleashed the first in their trilogy. Apart from the curio that was Guardian of Light, the franchise has failed to really get going this time around. With a new generation looming perhaps this is make or break for the once mighty franchise.
Rebooting the series was a much needed and smart move. It allows Crystal Dynamics to move Lara in to a world of their creation rather than continuing with the one set out by Core all that time ago. Giving the game a more edgy style also seems a smart move as, in later titles, Lara had become somewhat a parody of her former self. Much has been overshadowed though by the vocal grunts and woman abusing chants of detractors over the past few months which whilst boosting the titles visibility, must be wearing on the developer. We went hands on with the new title to see just how far it’s come.
No fancy jumps or ponytail popping back flips here – not at this point. She struggles through the jungle path, barely making a small jump and continues on as the rain starts to lash down. Control is tight, if a little measured in its pacing. In fact the whole game feels like it could do with speeding up just a touch – Lara feels like she plods rather than walks.That’s not to say it looks as good as the Uncharted series but it comes very close to capturing it – and who knows what Crystal Dynamics can achieve with another five months of development time. What you have though is a rich a lavish jungle setting. As Lara makes her way down the side of the cliff path she looks beaten, bloodied and exhausted. You soon discover she has been stranded on this island, her friend has been killed and some seriously bad shit is going down.Reaching an abandoned cave you achieve your objective of getting out of the freezing rain. As the cinematic plays showing Lara shivering, wet and streaked in blood you can’t help but bond with the character all over again. As she shivers and shudders she lights a makeshift fire with her one match and settles to get warm.The demo continues through a wooded area where you have to look for something to eat. Cue Lara obtaining her first weapon – a longbow – and taking down a deer.The demo didn’t go much further than about 20 minutes or so but you got a real sense of the predicament Lara was facing and how Crystal Dynamics are going to handle it. Things do appear to have come full circle with Lara taking back the elements that titles like Uncharted have improved on from the original Tomb Raider formula.
Undoubtedly there will be many detractors standing waiting for this title to slip up. For every five fans wanting it to be a return to glory there will be one wanting it to fail miserably. Crystal Dynamics have a meaty task on their hands and one I’d not relish. This could be a last shot deal for Lara as a triple a release title.
Square/Eidos have surprised us once already this year with the rather great Sleeping Dogs.. Maybe that title and the rebooted Tomb Raider will be a return to form for the once great publisher.
Tomb Raid releases on PS3 and Xbox 360 on 5th March 2013.