What do you usually do when you’re 21 and fresh out of college? Hit up the beaches? Take a cross country trip across Europe? How about undertaking a dangerous expedition off the southern Kyushu Islands and ending up shipwrecked and possibly alone? That’s the new direction Crystal Dynamics is taking the iconic Tomb Raider series. This is not the sexy, strong and confident Lara Croft we have all come to know, but a younger, inexperienced 21 year old fresh out of college. She and her mentor Conrad Roth are out on an expedition off the Kyushu Islands when a freak storm comes out of nowhere causing their ship to wreck.
The first section has Lara waking up to find that she has been bound and is now hanging over a pit inside a cave. Not wanting to stick around and see who it was that tied her up; Lara quickly tries to find a way out. The rep pointed that out that new to the game are physics based consequences, the environment and objects that Lara push off of will push her back. The rep had Lara swing near a body that is hanging near her into a small altar with candles. The body swings into the candles knocking them over as its knocks back into her, her bindings catching on fire. The binds burn off of her and she falls down to the ground below, only to have a piece of rebar stab her in the side. She slowly and painfully removes the rebar from her side and spends the rest of the level holding her injury. As she makes her way out of the cave, she learns that she’s not alone as some unknown guy comes after her. After a brief chase, Lara loses sight of him and ends up deeper in the cave. Here the rep showed off a new feature called survival instinct. Survival instinct helps out Lara by highlighting ways for her to escape or interact with her environment. As she tries to escape, the environment around her starts to crumble and change as she moves, which the rep explained, will happen often. Lara finally makes it topside and finally sees the situation she’s in.
The second part of the demo takes place a few days later. Lara has finally found her mentor Conrad Roth who just had been attacked by a strange wolf in an abandoned village. Worried about his condition, Lara drags him to a nearby covering as she goes off to recover a pack that was stolen by the wolf. The rep explained about dynamic traversal and how the players can decide which route Lara can take. Instead of following the wolf’s tracks, he made Lara take the direct route and climb and travel over the roofs of houses and the cliff walls. Lara makes it to the wolf's den and proceeds in cautiously saying out loud "I’m only here for the pack." She retrieves the pack, only to be blindsided by the wolf. She makes quick work of the wolf and makes her way back down towards the covering with the pack and an SOS transceiver. Right before the demo ended, the rep explained that the cover will act as a hub/base camp. Here, players can have Lara fast travel to previous base camps in order to salvage junk to create items and have her learn new survival skills to help her along in the game.
Crystal Dynamics is taking a much darker approach with the new Tomb Raider game, emphasizing the fact that she has to do whatever it takes to survive. As days pass in game, Lara’s physical and emotional appearance will change and players will notice it as the game progresses. Her survival instinct will start to grow and evolve as she travels around the island looking for a way out. The kills she makes are brutal as are the injuries she sustains. The lighting, shading, and environmental and weather conditions will change from day to day and are amazing to look at. The graphics serve as a great backdrop for the survival theme. Having Lara just starting out as a young inexperienced adventurer is a fresh take on the character and we will learn how she became the sexy bad ass well all love. I, for one, am excited to see the final product and also excited to see what new adventures the younger Lara will have.