‘Tomb Raider’ is a change for the better

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I had no idea what I was going to think of Tomb Raider. I was never a fan of the series until Tomb Raider Legend or the recent Guardian of Light downloadable title. Not because Lara’s adventures were bad per se, but jumping just seemed terrible in its original iterations that were on the PlayStation. It didn’t seem “fun.”

Now in a brand-new reboot, Lara (LAAAIR-AAAA, not LAWWW-RAA) Croft has to fight against all odds. Marooned on an island with no food, shelter or protection, she’ll have to contend with nature in addition to enemies and animals.

The demo started off with Lara slowly walking toward a crashed airplane. It was crashed in a way that she could climb it to get to the top of a cliff. While this sounds like no big deal in an Uncharted game, it was tense here. At times, I wasn’t sure what the next platform would be. It became scary taking Lara from ledge to ledge, instead of just turning into little more than “guess the next spot to jump.”

She eventually made camp with a fire, so at least she was warm. But how was she going to satiate her hunger? The best way would probably be to hunt.

On her next journey into the forest, she found a bow and arrow hanging above. Her best bet was to climb the trees and jump towards the tool. While playing this, I couldn’t help but think of the beginning of Snake Eater on the PS2.

Snake had to climb up a tree to get his gear, but it was just a lot more tense here. Even drawing comparisons to Snake Eater, you have to commend Crystal Dynamics for trying something new even if it’s borrowing from other games.

With the bow and arrow in her hands, the time to kill some deer had come. The bow is controlled through standard over-the-shoulder shooting, which somehow, Lara never knew back in 1996. It felt modern and worked great, happily. I was definitely shooting an arrow into that deer’s head in no time.

A couple cool last minute mentions. I opened the map up and noticed how huge this island she’s on truly is. We knew that this was going to be a pretty open-world game, and it looks like later you’ll be able to have more freedom.

Lastly, after finishing dinner or lunch or “the meal before the next so I can live longer,” Lara gained XP to put into stats. While it didn’t look amazingly deep at the moment, it’ll have some RPG elements like health or aiming and you’ll be able to choose from certain perks like taking the used arrows out of objects.

One last cut-scene rounded out the demo, and while not being a huge fan of the original series, I’m all ears on this reboot. It’s more interesting, the story seems engrossing, the world looks big and applying new skills sounds like a stronger Lara. It’s going to be a hard wait for March 2013.

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