Monday, July 16, 2012

SDCC 2012 : Tomb Raider - Hands On Impressions

I managed to get my hands on the SDCC demo of the new reboot for the Tomb Raider Franchise. For those that don't know, the franchise has been rebooted into a game more focused on survial then kicking ass in dungeons and temples. They are very much trying to set the character into a more grounded reality.

Basic Movement and Beginning of Demo

The demo was titled Pre-Beta Hunting Demo, which obviously shows what the demo was about. The demo started with teaching me the basic controls and movement. I could walk around, jump and interact with the environment, nothing too fancy yet. When controlling Lara, the animation for her movements was very realistic and she even clutched her stomach as she was wounded at an earlier point in the game.

I started off on the Cliffside and made my way towards the wreckage of a plane. I jumped onto it as it was the only way to make it to the otherside of the cliff and was quickly engaged by a quick time event to stay on. I grappled my way across with basic jumps and movements, having to press the X button every now and then if the part I was holding onto started to break. It was very reminiscent of controlling Nathan Drake in Uncharted when exploring the environment.


Soon enough I made my way across to find shelter in a cave nearby which triggered a cutscene. Time skipped to the daytime once again and my new goal was to find food. I discovered a body with a bow, hanging from a tree which I made my way up to and snagged the bow. The controls for shooting the bow were simple enough and easy to control, pretty much holding left trigger than right trigger to fire as is the standard in FPS games.

I found a dear nearby and had to watch it from a distance because any movement near it that was too loud would scare it away. I lined up a shot and shot it in the side but it still survived so I had to fire 2 more arrows in order to fell it finally. Another cutscene were Lara had to end the poor beast’s life showed how badly Lara felt for it.


The demo pretty much ended with me making my way back up to the shelter and ended with one final cutscene radio-ing for help, managing to contact one of the other survivors. Before it ended I was able to choose from a variety of upgrades that would help me in the future (not in this demo). There were options such as retrieving arrows from bodies of enemies you’ve slain, gaining more health from herbs, gaining more experience from picking up certain plants in the environment, and unfortunately I was a bit rushed so I didn’t get to see what other upgrades were available.

Final Thoughts

There wasn’t any ground breaking gameplay in this demo, but what I found intriguing was actually the cutscenes. They really felt more grounded in reality and survival than most other games I have played and thanks to the great animation for Lara, we can really see how she feels and reacts in the situations around her. You can tell she is trying to get used to this idea of surviving and that’s it very difficult.

The upgrades give me more hope that there will be more to the gameplay. The demo was purposely linear but I have a feeling the game will be more open world in the final game. The various upgrades I saw hinted at exploring and picking up a lot items, which a linear game would have more trouble doing than a free world game. Also its an entire island so there should be a lot to explore. This is all however just speculation and my thoughts on what the final game might be like.

In any case, I found the survival and story enjoyable to experience and see and the gameplay was still fun thanks to the immersion. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the game and now it’s definitely on my radar of games to buy.

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