by Jayden Leggett, Assistant Editor
Having spent a long time away from the Tomb Raider series, I felt it was time to jump back in to things with this upcoming reboot by trying out the pre-beta hunting demo (plus, the line wasn’t too long at the time). The demo began with a bruised and bloodied Lara Croft standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking a shore littered with shipwrecks. I began walking slowly and taking in the atmosphere of the scenery (something I rarely do in video games), as Lara’s environment is truly breath-taking. Once I had ceased my sight-seeing I proceeded along my rocky path until I came to a narrow log spread across a chasm, and it was here where I began to understand a great deal of what this game was going to be about.
Unlike many games where such a seemingly simple obstacle would be passed over without a moment’s notice, crossing this log-bridge truly felt like a life-or-death affair. As Lara cautiously and slowly traversed this hazardous obstacle, I felt like she was going to slip or fall at any moment, as she wavered about, desperately trying to maintain her balance. Lara’s commentary to herself further emphasizes how difficult a task this is for her. Similarly, when I reached a crashed airplane that was suspended in a tree, tasks like jumping and grabbing onto climbable surfaces are made all the more exciting as Lara loses her grip, requiring a quick push of the X button before she plummets to her death. As I began to climb up this makeshift ladder, the decrepit plane started to crumble behind Lara, thus prompting a quick climbing sequence that resulted in a seamlessly transitioned cut-scene in which Lara rolls out of the way of the crashing plane mere seconds before being crushed under it’s enormous weight. Truly exciting stuff.
Thus it becomes all too clear that this game will primarily be about survival, as the harsh nature of the island itself could easily prove to be Lara’s greatest enemy, and every time you make a jump over a ledge or tightrope walk over a branch you truly feel that you could be killed at any moment. In this way the island is further emphasized as feeling like a character itself, as Lara is constantly on the receiving end of pain as she falls from collapsing ledges, tumbles down muddy slopes and so on. I found myself really empathizing with her predicament a lot during my play time, which may sound stupid because this is only a video game, but I defy anybody who plays this to not feel sorry for her as they watch her shivering and visually shaking in the cold rain after copping a beating from an unforgiving mountain slope. The game conveys a great sense of how vulnerable Lara is, as this young woman is a victim in this game as opposed to the guns-blazing action heroine we were all previously familiar with, which I felt was a great new direction to take her character in.
Before long I stumble across a backpack containing a few meager supplies including a video camera, radio communicator and a box of matches. Striking up a match and lighting a fire creates Lara’s camp, and it is here where the game’s hub is based and players can upgrade her skills and so on. While I admittedly didn’t have too much time to explore the various skills to upgrade during my demo, they seem to relate to Lara’s ability to survive on the island.
Next up I got my hands on a bow that was kindly donated by a corpse hanging from a tree, so it was time to hunt for food. I spotted a deer (which had apparently also spotted me, as it was running away), so in preparation I readied my bow with the left trigger and drew back with the right trigger, causing an aiming circle to shrink down over my aiming reticule, showing how accurate my shot would be. What I didn’t know was that having the bow string drawn back for too long causes Lara to tire and let go, firing the arrow with terrible accuracy, and almost frightening my quarry away in the process. After wounding the deer with one arrow and the killing it with the second, Lara carves off some meat in another seamless cut-scene, and then by pressing the left bumper to activate a beacon that helps me find my way, I trek back to camp (shooting a bird on my way back, just because I can!) Quivers of arrows are scattered sparingly over the island, so ammo conservation and making sure to not miss your targets is very important.
My time with Tomb Raider was relatively short but very, very sweet. I can definitely see this game as being one that will dominate large amounts of the player’s time, as it is a game that sucks you right in with it’s stunning atmosphere. Those who want a game to be played in short bursts should probably look elsewhere, but for anybody else who is interested in a survival adventure title, I strongly suggest keeping both eyes peeled for Tomb Raider. I know I will be…
After a brutal storm destroys the boat she was travelling on, a frightened young woman is left washed ashore on an unknown beach. On her own but not alone she has only one goal, to survive. Here begins the first adventure for a young and inexperienced Lara Croft in a story which charts the journey of an ordinary woman who finds out just how far she must go in order to stay alive.