E3 2012 Preview

E3 2012: Tomb Raider might give Uncharted a run for its money

This morning, as soon as security started letting us E3 2012 attendees shamble our way onto the show floor, I immediately headed over to the Square-Enix booth. Tomb Raider was on the top of my list—not because I was particularly interested in Lara Croft’s reboot, but because I just needed to check off some of my appointments early to free up space later in the day.

Boy, did I go for the wrong reason, or what?

Turns out that I was smart to see Tomb Raider first; it was a glorious start to E3 2012 for me. It may have been because I only had middling expectations, it may have been because I had just entered the endorphin rush that is E3, or both, but Tomb Raider took me by surprise.

The demo started with Lara injured and lumbering about—as we’re used to seeing her by now—looking for a crashed shipment of supplies. As she maneuvered throughout the mountain-side environment, it became immediately apparent that Crystal Dynamics is taking their presentation farther than they ever have.

Making her way through the jungle, lady Croft eventually finds a bow – literally from some random dead dude – and it becomes her saving grace from viscous island dwellers, mercenaries, and wolves. As you progress through the game, you’re able to upgrade your equipment by salvaging things you find throughout the area. Weapon and tool upgrades change both the effectiveness and aesthetic to each item; a nice touch that gives you the constant sense of progression.

In the interest of avoiding spoilers so that you can have your own “awe” moments, I’ll avoid specific plot points and set pieces. Instead, I’ll just tell you why Tomb Raider rubbed me the right way.

Tomb Raider is an extremely personal experience. No matter what you do, Lara feels like a real person – an x-factor that most games fail to achieve. Due to her surroundings and physical state, she’s tremendously vulnerable. Crystal Dynamics makes you feel every single bump, scratch and shock that Lara feels throughout the demo.

I didn’t expect it, but Tomb Raider really “connected” with me in the same way that Uncharted does. I wish I could tell you more, but like I said, I really want you to experience some of that content for the first time yourself.

Let me just say this: upon her first human kill, Lara breaks down into tears and the player is presented with a super dramatic moment. Stop for a second and think. When does that ever happen? This industry is flooded with shooters, and video game protagonists are built to be ruthless killers. It’s just nice to see that Tomb Raider is one of those games that tries to break free from the mold.