When I first saw the Tomb Raider reboot at E3 2011, I was excited to see Lara get a proper origin story. Fast-forward to late 2011/early 2012 when statements from a producer working on the game sent feminists (mainly male feminists) into a frenzy and the game saw some negative press from those who haven’t even played it yet. At the GameStop Expo I had a chance to finally get some hands-on time with the game.
The demo that was being shown off was Lara’s first time hunting and using a bow. The demo itself was a tutorial level, that is to say, pretty simple and straightforward. This wasn’t so bad, since some of the features that were added are new to the series. The level that demo had me run through took place right after Lara escaped from her captor from the E3 2011 build. The first thing the demo wanted me to do was to search for clues as to where the rest of the survivors went. This consisted of me guiding Lara across a ridge and a cliff that had a deteriorating WWII-era bomber. This task showed how Lara can now jump climb and shimmy her way around the terrain. Once I got her past that death trap, the camera panned to a small life raft that drifted ashore. This triggered a scene where Lara rushed over but saw no one there. An icon popped up and showed that I could scavenge the small wreck for supplies. What I managed to get from that pick up was a box of matches and a two way radio. My next prioritywas to get Lara to a dry place to set up a base camp. It took a few minutes, but after making my way past a steep cliff face I found an abandoned camp fire that I could use to rest for a bit. Hunger started to set in and it was time for me to start the second part of the demo: hunting.
Hunting is pretty straightforward: shoot, kill, clean, and eat. What’s not so simple is that Lara is still unarmed at this point, so finding a weapon was first on my list. I had Lara go deeper into the forest area that was near the base camp. After a while, I spotted the last person who used the camp: he was hanging upside down and dead. On his shoulder was a bow, so I made Lara scramble up the tree and managed to get it down. Lara suffered some damage getting it down, as she tried to get the bow the tree gave out and the dead body and she landed hard. No matter, I thought, since now I have the bow and found some arrows it was time to kill something to eat. So I stalked the local deer that was nearby waiting for my chance to strike. Controlling and aiming the bow was pretty simple, LT zoomed in while RT fired the arrow. While I didn’t make a clean shot, I did take down the deer, but it was bitter sweet since it was still breathing as I finished it off. With fresh meat in hand, it was time to hoof it back to base camp and try to radio for help.
Crystal Dynamics is really pushing the “survival at all costs” elements and mechanics of instead of the platforming and puzzle solving we’ve seen in previous games. That’s not to say that those elements are not there, we probably just have not seen them yet. Like I’ve said in my E3 2011 piece, I really like the direction that Crystal Dynamics is taking Tomb Raider. The demo just hammered that point in even more to me. Regardless of what you think of the current controversy surrounding the game, this Tomb Raider reboot is one game everyone should keep an eye on in 2013.