E3 2011 first look: Tomb Raider


Tomb Raider may be one of the most iconic and most famous gaming brands, but you wouldn’t have guessed it if you’ve played a Tomb Raider game in the last 10 years. The series may have helped make Angelina Jolie a household name, but Lara has needed some attention for a long time. Thanks to the Square Enix purchase of Eidos, Croft may finally be getting the attention she so desperately needs.

Tomb Raider is a sort of reimagining of the series. A prequel to the originales, this tale shows a young and inexperienced 21 year-old Lara Croft as she is suspiciously shipwrecked on an island off the coast of Japan. To escape alive, she has to “endure physical and emotional torture.” And she does.

The E3 demo at Square Enix’s booth is hands-off this go round, but a representative from Crystal Dynamics played through a couple levels of the game to give us a good idea of what the team is going for. The demo opens with Lara hanging upside down in a cave and wrapped in a spider-like cocoon. The first thing we noticed was how gorgeous and detailed this new game is–it is very much reminiscent of the Uncharted series, but with a darker vibe. To escape, you must swing yourself back and forth to light a fire and then burn your cocoon off. Once you land at the bottom of the cave, you must pick up torches and use fire, water, physics, and wind to your advantage. Crystal Dynamics seems to be approaching its puzzles with a moderately realistic frame of mind; if your torch gets wet, it goes out; if your fire touches something flammable, it burns. Escaping involves a lever, TNT, and your torch.


Walking around and using the environment looks to be fun, but a good portion of the demo was less interactive. For better and worse, Tomb Raider‘s gameplay is as modern as Lara’s new look. Like most big blockbuster action games, a lot of the gameplay shown could best be described as interactive cutscenes, where you have to tap a button in the middle of a video sequence, or alternate pressing the L and R buttons to escape from a local man who pops out of nowhere to grab at your feet. Ever since Resident Evil 4 and Gears of War, big budget games seem to be revolving more around these sorts of shock and squirm encounters, where a new scenario is thrust upon you or cutscenes are given some life with a few button pushes. I’m not certain this is an awful trend, but Tomb Raider is certainly following it.

One thing Crystal Dynamics kept pointing out was how inexperienced Lara Croft is. They hope to let players experience her becoming a hardened tomb raider. In these demos, though, she was very much a 21-year-old girl, moaning and screaming when she got hurt (she moans a little too much, actually), kicking and killing a man that out of fear even though he was just trying to help her, and complaining about her mission to an injured man. To be fair, however, I’d complain too if someone asked me to infiltrate the den of a rabid pack of wolves.

Without the chance to get our hands on Tomb Raider, we can only speculate on the controls and overall experience. With that said, it is clear that this game has a level of detail and polish that I haven’t seen out of Tomb Raider before. It won’t be hitting PS3 and Xbox 360 until the third quarter of 2012, but from what we gather, Tomb Raider may be one to look out for next year.

We’ve included the full E3 trailer below.

Product Review

‘Let’s Go Pikachu’ and ‘Let’s Go Eevee’ feel like true ‘Pokémon Go’ RPGs

Pokémon: Let’s Go’s simplified reimagining of Pokémon Yellow has a great balance of old and new mechanics. It has a streamlined approach that makes it easy to get into, but depth remains for longtime fans.
Home Theater

What’s new on HBO and what’s leaving in December 2018

Whether you're a cable lifer or a staunch cord cutter, there's never been a better time to get down with premium TV. Follow us to find out what's new on HBO each month. December 2018 brings sci-fi hit Ready Player One and the drama Icebox.
Home Theater

The seven best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2018.

Play cowboy in the new limited-time ‘Fortnite’ Wild West mode

Epic Games has added a new limited-time Wild West mode to Fortnite: Battle Royale. The mode limits players to weapons from the time period, including revolves, hunting rifles, and shotguns.

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.

How to become a master assassin and perfect the art of execution in 'Hitman 2'

'Hitman 2' introduces new and improved story missions with a scale that can feel overwhelming if you're not prepared. Learn everything you need to know to obtain a high score while remaining unnoticed.

Playing ‘Battlefield V’ on an $800 Nvidia card is stunning. And disappointing

‘Battlefield V’ is the first game to use Nvidia’s ray tracing support, now available with the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti graphics cards. The feature can, in an ideal scenario, make the game look better, but the performance hit may not be…
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Nissan turmoil, product designer Jae Yoo of Nerf, and more

For today's episode of Digital Trends Live, we turn our attention to the L.A. Auto Show and Lamborghini's race-ready version of the Urus. We also speak with Jae Yoo of Nerf and MLS defender Zarek Valentin about their origins, modern tech…

The best Gamestop Black Friday deals in 2018

Gamestop is hosting one heck of a Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotion period, highlighted by excellent deals on games, gaming consoles, and gaming accessories. We combed through everything and have all the best Gamestop Black Friday…

The best cheap-but-awesome PlayStation 4 game deals under $20

The PlayStation 4 has hit its stride in recent years and is now more affordable than ever. If you have a PS4 or are thinking of buying one, we’ve collected some must-have games. The best part? Each of these is just $20 or less.

Valve responds after ‘Artifact’ slammed for taking microtransactions too far

Streamers and gamers heavily criticized the monetization model of Artifact, as the digital card game may have taken microtransactions too far. Valve quickly responded to the feedback, with planned changes to the game's public beta.

‘Darksiders III’ gets its own Fury-led ASMR series, and it’s weird

Darksiders III is out in less than a week, and to celebrate the game's impending release, publisher THQ Nordic has released an ASMR video starring Fury. The video focuses on her fire abilities.

Check out the best Xbox One deals and bundles for November 2018

Microsoft's consoles are just as capable of streaming movies as they are of playing the latest games. Check out our top Xbox One deals and bundles, which include new and upcoming triple-A games like Battlefield V and Fallout 76.

'Pokémon: Let's Go' is a different kind of Pokémon game. Here's how to master it

Pokémon: Let's Go is a mashup of traditional Pokémon RPGs and Pokémon Go. Still, new mechanics will make it feel somewhat new for even seasoned trainers. To help you on your journey to Victory Road, check out these tips and tricks in our…