Reboots are always bittersweet. We long for the original and how it made us feel, yet we are hoping for something new and fresh to experience. The reboot that was Tomb Raider by developer Crystal Dynamics turned out to be one of the greatest reboots I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
The original Tomb Raider series featured a confident Lara Croft, and while a strong female character is always welcome, the games never dived below the surface of Lara’s psyche. Yet, with this reboot, we were able to see a character that had immense depth, and we wanted to fight for her, while being in awe at how she herself fought.
Now that her story of survival and rebirth into a hardened warrior has been told, we are embarking on a new journey with Lara in Rise of the Tomb Raider. While I absolutely adore its predecessor, I fully believe that this title has the potential to surpass everything that has come before it in the series. I only say this because there seems to be a great emphasis this time on expanding the game from its level up system of Lara’s skills and her weapons to giving the player a wider environment to traverse to increasing the number and complexity of tombs to raid. And that’s what we really want to do, right? Raid some tombs!
At Gamescom, Crystal Dynamics’ Brand Director Rich Briggs spoke on trying to “celebrate that nostalgic feel of a tomb raid through a modern lens…” Instead of simply pulling a lever or standing on a square in the floor to raise a platform as was done in past Tomb Raider titles, these new puzzles will be less on-the-nose. “We’re making them environmental puzzles, physics-based puzzles, so they feel like a modern interpretation,” Briggs said.
Combat in the Tomb Raider reboot, moves at two paces: sneak up and incapacitate your foes or blow up a bunch of stuff while destroying your enemies. In other words, combat could become repetitive after a while, even if you were upgrading your skills and weapons consistently. In an interview with Gamespot, Crystal Dynamics’ senior designer Michael Brinker expounded upon the game’s stealth and battle mechanics.
“This time around we’re allowing players to really focus on what they want to choose,” Brinker said. “Do they want to avoid the situation entirely? Do we want to make stealth options where they can choose to take down guys stealthily? Or do they want to go in for a full-on fight?” This presents some exciting possibilities as now the game has a say in who Lara Croft is. Is she hardened killer? Or is she only going to spill blood as a last resort? This presents some non-linear moments within a mostly linear game.
One of the old school elements that is making its way into Rise of The Tomb Raider is the variation of environments that Lara Croft will be visiting. In the last title the island that Lara was trying to escape had some strange weather environments. Part of it was a tropical jungle while other parts turned into a snowy-mountain terrain. It was an appropriate addition to change up the environments, but it also felt a bit forced. However you feel about those things, in Rise of the Tomb Raider Lara will actually be globe hopping to track down answers to the mystery she is trying to solve. This will add more to the “journey” aspect of the game, and hopefully it pays off.
If there was an area that was severely lacking in the Tomb Raider reboot, it was the game’s supporting cast of characters. Yes, Lara needed people to fight for other than herself, but outside of one really one character, everyone else felt like one-dimensional burdens. I’m not sure whether those elements will change, but from what we can see, Lara seems to mostly be on her own for a great majority of this game.
It’s truly satisfying to see a 20 year old franchise like Tomb Raider rising from the ashes to being in a place of relevance again. Although this is a timed exclusive, Xbox, PC gamers and, by this time next year, PlayStation gamers will be astounded by this title. At least that’s what it looks like for the time being.
How do you feel about Rise of The Tomb Raider? Excited or not so much? Let us know in the comments below!