previewed on PC
Lara is on the go again
Tomb raider is a series everyone has heard about, be it the video games or the movies. Spanning 15 games already from 1996, a new game is in development from the creators at Eidos Interactive. However, will this fit in with the mainstream feel of Tomb Raider games, or will this one shine above its predecessors?
The latest game currently in development is Tomb Raider: Underworld. Like every story before, Lara Croft, the English archaeologist, is in search of ancient treasure. It’s been confirmed that Lara is hunting for Thor’s hammer. Lara first gets a clue leading her into the depths of the Mediterranean Sea. Once more, the story will take Lara all over the world on her quest, discovering that there is a dormant force that, if disturbed, could destroy the world itself. I thought the level of magnitude that puts on the player really gives you a sense of burden. What you’re trying to achieve could mean the end of you and the world. There are games in which certain actions could result in the end of the world, however this seems more hypothetical in a perspective to the game character itself, rather than the player, which could leave the player missing out on some of the story aspects if it felt like it wouldn’t affect them in any way while playing the game.
New athletics and combat moves to try
With Lara venturing to different corners of the world, this gives a lot of great opportunities to do so many new things. This time around the developers have focussed on thinking ‘what could Lara do’? Beginning with what Lara can do, such as climb up walls, jump and grab ledges etc., they’ve come up with all the things they believe she would be able to do, and have gotten Olympic calibre gymnasts to do motion capturing to get the animations right for these movements. Motion capture is something that is starting to be used more and more in games now, and gives some added realism, so this could be the most realistic you have ever seen Lara Croft.
Lara also receives an overhaul of her close quarter’s special moves seen in previous games. Previously she could do things such as jump on enemies, launch up and shoot at them. However, in Underworld it goes a little bit further. Now, Lara can vault right over her enemies, launch off while shooting at them, and also run at them to hit them with her pistol. New stunts also allow her to hold onto a ledge with one hand while shooting at enemies with the other. This has a limited shooting distance, however, but she can change which hand she’s holding the ledge with and shoot the other way if necessary. Lara can now also shoot at two separate enemies at once, giving a slightly more tactical feel towards the game, especially when Lara gets ambushed, or has to face a large group of enemies.
More open-ended puzzling
There are going to be many puzzles found on each level, which is a standard feature of Tomb Raider games. However, the puzzles have always been delivered in a set, on-the-rails approach. This time, the developers have decided to give you more freedom, letting you choose your own path through the levels to complete what puzzles you like first.
This is the first Tomb Raider game developed for the current generation of consoles, so the graphics have seen a drastic overhaul. Using all this new technology, the developers have pulled off all the stops to be on par with some of the most visually spectacular games out there. Using a completely new engine, they’ve redesigned Lara’s world to be more interactive than ever before. There always used to be little interaction in the context of the puzzles, where you could pull on something with her grapple, or shoot something in order to break it. This time, however, the world itself should feel alive. The interaction will be apparent in such small details as when Lara moves through a bush, she would push it to the side with her hand, allowing her to get through it.
Lara is shaping up well
Tomb Raider: Underworld is shaping up to be a brightly shining gem in the sea of Tomb Raider games that will certainly shine brighter than the rest. With new features, a dramatic storyline, epic puzzles to solve, gorgeous visuals and freedom, this game certainly offers a lot of fresh blood into this series that has been on the verge of becoming slightly stale. Whether the game will answer to all the expectations is another question, but from what I’ve seen I wouldn’t expect less than greatness for this title for old and new fans alike.