Tomb Raider hands-on preview: 5 things you need to know
The new Tomb Raider may not hit the shops until March 5th, 2013, but that didn’t stop us getting hands-on with the game everybody’s talking about. Just an hour with the game was enough to get us excited about what so far looks like the deepest, and dare we say it, most fun Tomb Raider game yet. Here is just a handful of things we learnt about the new Tomb Raider.
Battered, bruised, and bloody. Lara Croft is stranded and lost, but she’s not down yet. In fact Lara is stronger than ever. She just doesn’t know it yet.
In just an hour with the new Tomb Raider, we saw the new Lara Croft leap deathly-looking chasms, scale cliffs at vertigo-inducing heights, solve puzzles, hunt to stay alive, fend off pirates, and miraculously escape from a pack of ravenous meat-hungry wolves.
The new Tomb Raider is already looking like the action-packed, drama-filled, puzzle-solving game Tomb Raider fans have dreamt of – and one with all its Hollywood-esque sequences and superb voice-over acting, quite capable of giving even the Uncharted series a run for its money.
Sound great? Here are five more things we learnt from our hands-on:
‘Dynamic traversal’ lets you explore anywhere
What developer Crystal Dynamics is calling dynamic traversal will let players explore the world without obstruction – so if you want to divert from the campaign to go sightseeing as Lara Croft, you can revisit locations previously explored without invisible barriers blocking your path. “We want to bring a new level of freedom” Crystal Dynamics told us.
Upgrade Lara’s tools
Lara gets a bow and arrow, which can be upgraded over time to be stronger, and more accurate. It’s part of the new upgrade system to encourage players to seek out lost treasures and rewards. An axe later on proves a handy tool for opening a door, but only once it is upgraded, can Lara progress. Some items need to be upgraded, while others are limited by the choice of the player. Base camps, which are a bit like camps sites, are dotted around the map, letting Lara upgrade skills such as Arrow Retrieval, letting Lara retrieve arrows she has already fired. A message saying “new skill mastered” lets you know when you’ve improved an ability.
Lara gets stronger over time
Because this is a prequel, the Lara we see isn’t the dashing, confident Lara we already know. She’s still young, and has yet to experience the worst life can throw at her. The dangerous situations she finds herself in, many a matter life and death, make her stronger. She has a relationship with everyone around her, and we see how she learns from them, and gets stronger, both emotionally, and physically over time as she hunts and kills for the first time just to survive. From stranded explorer, to survivor in the face of death, players will see Lara change significantly over time.
Hunt to stay alive
To survive, Lara will need to hunt. The bow and arrow we mentioned earlier proves Lara’s most handy tool. Tapping the shoulder buttons to aim and fire an arrow requires timing and precision, and provides a sometimes neat distraction from the action, as players priorities switch to acting out Lara’s survival instincts. The ability to upgrade her survival instincts could almost be a game in itself.
Puzzle-solving will be as big a part as ever
True to Tomb Raider games of old, the new one will have its fair share of puzzles. Tomb Raider encourages players to think differently, with puzzles that are both more tactile and mentally challenging. Some will require players to move objects around, while others will challenge the player to think about how to use their tools and the environment around them. If a door is locked, picking up the flaming torch can be used to set fire to it. Or if an obstacle is in the way, it can be broken using the axe Lara picked up earlier.
Barrels can be blown up to clear a paths. If it’s there, it’s likely that it can be used. More freedom than ever is given to players in what looks like a promising, and darker direction for the Tomb Raider series.