There's no doubt there will be death in Tomb Raider.
By the time this game, simply titled Tomb Raider, comes out it would have been well over four years since the last game in this long-running franchise had hit the shelves (we're excluding the download-only Guardian of Light). That's not a bad thing, as despite some improving titles since Crystal Dynamics took over development duties from Core Design, the franchise had really stagnated and wasn't pulling the mainstream press coverage, or sales, that the franchise deserved. With that in mind the development team at Crystal Dynamics were tasked with rebooting the franchise.
This latest Tomb Raider tells the origin story of Lara Croft and her ascent from a frightened young woman to the hardened survivor that she would become known as. Armed only with raw instincts and the ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, Lara must fight to unravel the dark history of a forgotten island to escape its relentless hold.
Visually, Tomb Raider (2013) looks stunning.
With production on this game having commenced in early 2009 this certainly isn't a quick release or cash-in on the brand. Indeed, even with Eidos pushing the game back from late 2012 (which would have meant massive Christmas sales no doubt) into March 2013 it's clear that the company is keen to ensure this reboot is the start of a very big franchise. Another change is that the games developers are aiming the game towards a more mature audience so expect a bit more brutality in the many fights and combat sequences within the game. Having seen the game in action this really looks like a fresh start for the franchise.
Certainly the biggest surprise announced on January 8 2013 is that Tomb Raider will, for the first time, include multiplayer modes in the game. Eidos have been keen to stress however that Crystal Dynamics have been totally focused on the single player campaign while the multiplayer has been handled by Eidos Montreal (who handled Deus Ex: Human Revolution). There will be three multiplayer modes (Rescue is one such mode) in total with five maps included on the disc and support for up to 8-players (two teams of four). It may not sound like a lot but if structured well these modes could certainly add some longevity to the release.
Locations in Tomb Raider (2013) are moody.
Visually Tomb Raider seems to be hitting all the right notes with a sensational reveal trailer at E3 2011 that showed a new gritty look to the game, a much younger Lara Croft, and set pieces that could rival the best games on the market. Now that the release is only a month off more is being shown every week and Eidos have just released a new walkthrough video which is very impressive (you can see it below). The developers are using an enhanced version of the Crystal Tools engine which powered the previous, visually strong, Tomb Raider title. For the first time too Crystal Dynamics have employed a cinematographer to work on the games numerous scripted cut-scenes so we expect them to impress in the final game as well.
In terms of audio previous Lara voice Keeley Hawes has been replaced by Camilla Luddington while the music is being composed by Jason Graves who has worked on a swag of video games, most notably EA's Dead Space franchise.
Lara Croft sifting through some bones!
While we've always admired the Tomb Raider franchise ever since playing the first game on PC way back in 1996, but we've never been "in love" with the franchise so to speak. It's never reached the lofty expectations we've come to expect from triple-A titles and never reached the "Indiana Jones" levels in cinemas or the levels Sony have with their phenomenally great Uncharted franchise. This looks set to change though with the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot looking like setting new benchmarks. We'll know if Crystal Dynamics have succeeded in early March 2013.
Below is a video from the developers, with commentary from the games Creative Director Noah Hughes, whcih shows of much of the gameplay in the title. It's looking absolutely fantastic so check it out...