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Early details on the new Tomb Raider reboot

When it comes to the Tomb Raider franchise and Lara Croft as a whole, it’s been awhile since people have gotten hyped about a new installment of the once popular franchise.  Gamers would definitely be abuzz about a new Tomb Raider game if it was 1998, but these days the series has waned a bit and of course Uncharted is the top dog when it comes to action-adventure platforming games.

But now with the announcement of Tomb Raider, which serves as a complete series reboot, I think gamers may have a reason to be excited.  Game Informer has given us our first look at the redesigned Ms. Croft and now we have a few early details on the project from the latest issue of the magazine.  Unlike the previous Tomb Raider reboot, Tomb Raider: Legend, this new Tomb Raider installment is a complete reboot, so that means Lara is only 21 years-old and she’s far from being the adept adventurer we all know.

The biggest change in Tomb Raider is that the game no longer puts gamers on a linear path. Instead, they can roam the mysterious island Lara has crashed upon whenever they wish and choose whatever mission they wish to do. Yup, Tomb Raider will be offering gamers an open-world/sandbox experience.  Crystal Dynamic’s haven’t fully commented on the exact scope of the world, so right now no one knows if we’re going to get a playground that’s on the same size as a game like Just Cause or something a bit smaller like Mercenaries 3.

With the core story of Tomb Raider depicting the story of Lara’s first adventure, she isn’t exactly in tip top shape – thus some areas will initially be inaccessible to her until she acquires a new skill or gadget.  At this point it sounds like Crystal Dynamics is doing something similar to what Rocksteady did with Batman: Arkham Asylum, and if you ask me that’s a damn fine game to copy.

Crystal Dynamics isn’t just giving Lara a new playground to explore but they’re also adding a host of other new features along with taking the franchise in a more mature direction.  Compared to her other adventures, when Lara dies in the game it’s going to be brutal, I mean it could be so brutal that the game could earn an M rating depending on how far Crystal Dynamics wants to push things.  Previous installments of the Tomb Raider franchise always had Lara die in a somewhat comical fashion, usually with a nice ragdoll animation that would involve her body contorting in a ridiculous fashion.  In the new Tomb Raider game some of Lara’s deaths will involve a boulder falling on her leg only for another to fall on her head; talk about a double ouch moment.  One of Lara’s other deaths will come at the hand of a man (perhaps he’s a crazed villager a la RE4) who will stab Lara in the chest and proceed to close her eyelids once she’s dead. At least it’s nice to know that the foes in Tomb Raider will have a little respect for the dead, even if it’s a bit morbid.

Combat wise Crystal Dynamics has remained tight lipped so far, but they did reveal that the game will employee a free aim targeting system and that Lara will be able to combine items to create new ones.  Item creation along with upgrading Lara’s skills will be done via base camps strewn about the island, which also allow gamers to travel to particular locations – thus cutting back on some of the backtracking.

While it’s a mystery of who Lara will be up against in the game, she won’t be at it alone as she will be aided or come across other survivors from the research vessel she was on.  With the theme of survival being a key aspect of Tomb Raider, Lara will have to gather food and water if she wants to survive.  Additional details on the survival aspect of the game weren’t revealed but if it’s a case of picking up plants and killing animals like in Red Dead Redemption, it could be a cool addition.

It’s still a bit early to tell if Tomb Raider will be a mega hit or potentially dethrone Uncharted as the best action-adventure game on the market, but right now Crystal Dynamics is on the right track.  If the game boils down to being a mix of Uncharted with elements of Batman: Arkham Asylum in terms of the level design and general approach to non-linear gameplay, then Ms. Lara Croft could once again become a truly relevant figure in the video game industry.