This Tomb Raider relaunch is a lot about the branding of Lara Croft. For better or worse, the old Lara Croft was something of a gaming sex symbol. People loved her, people hated her. She exuded an absurd female form, and she didn’t really represent any sense of modern storytelling.
With the new Tomb Raider, Cyrstal Dynamics have elected to completely relaunch both the brand and Lara Croft. She’s younger, she’s softer and she’s not quite ready to take on the wilds of the world.
This new Tomb Raider will bring Lara from inexperienced to veteran, and everything I’ve seen of the game so far demonstrates that getting there will be difficult.
In the demo available on the NYCC show floor, players take Lara from a plane crash and into a small forrest in order to hunt for food. Mechanically, the game feels a lot like Uncharted. You’ll climb in the same way Nate would, and the lush jungle feels like something out of the first game in the Uncharted trilogy.
Except there’s hunting. Equipped with a bow, Lara takes aim at a deer.
In most games, this is where the hunting segment would enter a realm of automatic simplicity. Point your bow, let loose your arrow and kill the stupid deer. Move on.
With Crystal Dynamic’s relaunch, Lara Croft packs a lot more in the realm of emotion. Downing the deer requires multiple arrows. You’ll watch the creature limp away from you, and then you’ll have to fire another arrow into its side.
It’s brutal. Then you get in close and skin the beast. Lara’s not happy. She’s grunting and gasping at the action, and you’re meant to experience the same brutality first-hand.
If the old Lara Croft was about nothing but strength, punishment and badassery. This new Lara Croft has a lot to learn before she callousses over and takes down whimpering deer with ease.