Skip to main content

Crystal Dynamics shows Lara Croft can kick major ass in Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider When Crystal Dynamics first showed off the new Lara Croft in action at E3 2011, there were some questions as to whether this origin story would still deliver the type of adventurer that fans have grown to love through the many games and occasional films. The Croft shown early on was literally fresh off the boat, shipwrecked on an island and completely out of her element. But at E3 this year, the developer teased a glimpse of where Miss Croft is heading. A sequence, which occurs about half-way through the adventure, showed an agile and adept Croft using cover, explosive-tipped arrows and machine guns to take out an army of bad guys while on the run. At Gamescom 2012, Square Enix offered gamers a hands-on experience with the new Tomb Raider.

“Last year was all about survival and setting the tone of the character, now you’re going to really get to know her,” said Karl Stewart, global brand director for Crystal Dynamics on Tomb Raider. “You’re going to see how she takes a turn in her character to make her stronger. We all want to see Lara get some action/adventure and this is it.”

Tomb Raider
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The game, which hasn’t been rated yet but is almost certain to garner a Mature rating, showed an intense near-rape sequence at E3 2012, where an assailant finds Croft in hiding and she has no choice but to kill him. This game’s dark and personal themes separate this Tomb Raider from some of the most recent adventures.

The new Lara Croft is intuitive to control and the real-time gameplay blends seamlessly with the Hollywood CGI cut scenes. The open world of the island is gorgeous and the gameplay is so cinematic, attendees waiting in line stood mesmerized watching others play the game.

“Our goal in the first hour of gameplay is to set you on a path where she’s becoming that action/adventure hero, that character you really want to understand a little more depth about,” said Stewart. “She goes through a pretty intense situation to get her to that point.”

The gameplay also features a more open environment of exploration and puzzles that are more woven into the fabric of the story. Once Croft finds her trusty bow, she becomes a sharpshooter with this silent weapon, allowing players to navigate the island from a stealth perspective.

“We get to see how she grows and gets her new bow, her first piece of equipment,” said Stewart. “We teach you about some of the base camps, gear gathering and how you’re going to be able to improve that over time, and reveal where she gets her skills.”

Croft is not alone on the island. In addition to the aforementioned “bad guys,” there are also fellow shipwrecked passengers. Whitman is one of the characters introduced in the hands-on demo. He’s an archeologist, and in some ways, a mentor to Croft.

Tomb Raider 2013“He gives himself up far too easily in this demo when Lara is captured,” said Stewart. “He’s a character that we play out quite a lot inside the game, because he’s a great segueway to be able to show you the growth of Lara. Alongside a character that has some real experience in exploring, so there’s a real dynamic relationship to it.”

While there have been plenty of colorful characters in previous Tomb Raider games, the sheer size of this game’s cast and the different personalities introduces a new story-driven element to the game. In the demo, one of Croft’s friends is kidnapped by the inhabitants on the island. Those types of situations add a more personal element to the missions that evolve in the game.

“In the past, Tomb Raiders have felt very staid and staged,” said Stewart. “Now, we give the player the opportunity to be able to truly explore and get to see a side of Lara which they’ve never seen before, which will bring them closer to her and have a little bit more emotion and relevance as they play.”

Having played through the demo, it’s obvious that this Tomb Raider is a very different experience from previous iterations. While there were hardcore gamers that loved the complexity of past games’ puzzles, many of the people who became familiar with Lara Croft primarily through the Angelina Jolie movies and other marketing, may not have actually enjoyed playing the games because of the difficulty level.

“When we started reimagining the franchise of Tomb Raider, we wanted to open the gameplay experience to a broader audience,” said Stewart. “For 15 years, it was all about puzzle solving, exploration, and combat. There was a very hard skew towards 80-percent puzzle solving. Now we’ve broken all those pillars down and rebuilt them back up in a way that is more akin to a mainstream audience. We still have our puzzles, but now it’s called smart, resourceful, Lara. It’s about teaching the player about survival instincts and understanding the world.”

Tomb Raider rebootExploring the island is a very intuitive experience. The game walks players through the bow by challenging them to shoot a deer in the woods before taking aim at actual enemies. And the controls are easy to pick up and play, although there’s depth in the gameplay as Croft acquires new skills and abilities along the way. Stewart promises that by the time Croft has all of her capabilities, controlling her through the open island world will be a fun experience.

“We’ve built an entire new combat system and brought in a whole new team to be able to reimagine it,” said Stewart. “Combat compliments the new exploration. In the past, Tomb Raider was a very linear experience. If you remember, she used to jump from ledge to ledge. Now we’ve given her dynamic movements and the ability to be able to come into a space and truly explore.”

Although gamers won’t be able to explore this world until March 5, 2013, Crystal Dynamics has allowed fans at Gamescom, GameStop EXPO, and PAX Prime to get a taste for the single player action. And sources have told me that the new Tomb Raider will also unleash multiplayer action, so that’s something else to look forward to.

Editors' Recommendations

John Gaudiosi
John Gaudiosi has been covering video games for over 25 years, dating back to his work for The Washington Post while in…
GTA 6: release date speculation, trailer, gameplay, and more
Lucia and her partner rob a store in GTA 6.

Believe it or not, it has been over a decade since the last GTA game. While tons of people are still dumping hundreds of hours into GTA Online, everyone has been (not so) patiently waiting for Rockstar to finally confirm that a new entry is in the works. Despite many leaks and rumors, the team held strong until late 2023. Now that the game is finally confirmed, we have a lot more solid ground to cover in terms of what Grand Theft Auto 6 will be. This is going to be the biggest game of the generation, if not all time, so let's hotwire a car and pull off a heist to get all the information about GTA 6 there is.
GTA 6 release date speculation

Along with the official announcement trailer for GTA 6, we got a release window for the game. While it is a little disappointing, we won't be exploring the next open-world phenomenon until sometime in 2025.

Read more
Save $950 off the Alienware x16 gaming laptop with RTX 4080
Screen on the Alienware x16.

You should be prepared to spend some serious cash if you want to buy a powerful gaming laptop like the Alienware x16, but fortunately, there are savings that you can enjoy with your purchase. Dell has slashed the machine's price with a $950 discount, so it's down from $3,450 to $2,500 -- it's still not a budget-friendly device, but it's a reasonable price considering its capabilities. This bargain may not last long though, as gaming laptop deals almost always expire sooner than you think, so you have to proceed with the transaction as soon as possible if you're interested.

Why you should buy the Alienware x16 gaming laptop
Get serious about PC gaming with the Alienware x16, which challenges the performance of the best gaming laptops with its Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card, combined with the 13th-generation Intel Core i9 processor and 32GB of RAM that our guide on how much RAM do you need says is the sweet spot for high-end gamers. These specifications will not only let you play the best PC games on their most demanding settings, but also leave you prepared for the upcoming PC games of the next few years.

Read more
This Lenovo Legion gaming PC deal just dropped below $1,000
The Lenovo Legion Tower 5i Gen 8 gaming PC on a white background.

A decent gaming PC usually costs more than $1,000, but you can get one for less than that today by taking advantage of Lenovo's offer for the Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Gen 8. From its original price of $1,500, it's down to a more affordable $994 following a 33% discount. There's no telling how much time is remaining before you miss out on the $506 in savings, so if you're interested in this deal, it's highly recommended that you complete the transaction as fast as you can. Today if possible, because tomorrow may already be too late.

Why you should buy the Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Gen 8 gaming PC
If you want to get into PC gaming for a relatively affordable price, the Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Gen 8 is an excellent choice. It's not the most powerful machine out there, but it will be enough for you to enjoy the best PC games with its AMD Ryzen 7 7700X processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card, plus 16GB of RAM that's the best place to start for a gaming PC, according to our guide on how much RAM do you need. It's also equipped with an air cooling system and meshed front vents to keep it cool even after hours of playing.

Read more