Crystal Dynamics has garnered some success with their run on the Tomb Raider franchise with Tomb Raider Legend, Tomb Raider Underworld, and Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (one of my favorite games of 2010). Now the Crystal Dynamics team is rebooting the franchise entirely with Tomb Raider. The studio is taking a new approach to Lara, toning down her bust size and getting far more serious and gritty with her story line. They aim to recreate Lara a new, showing how she went from a relatively fragile young women to the strong heroine we know. I saw an early gameplay demo of Tomb Raider, and it reveals some of the ways Crystal Dynamics is building a new Lara Croft.

The demo begins with an already tattered, beaten, and exhausted Lara. After crashing on an island with a group of travelers, Lara has become separated from must fight for survival. She encounters a dead and strung-up captive, exhibiting shock and even sadness at the sight, but nevertheless taking a bow she finds on the corpse. With it she kills a deer, again showing a hesitancy and vulnerability completely new to her character. This Lara is not a born killer, but a survivor, pushing forward despite hardship.

Later, we see her meetup with her friend Sam, another survivor en route to meet up with Captain Conrad Rot, who appears far too willing to trust a potentially dangerous stranger. Trusting her instincts, Lara warns Sam subtly but too late. The captor takes Sam away, leaving Lara caught in a beer trap, desperately firing off arrows at a pack of wolves coming in for an apparently easy meal.

Lara eventually meets up with the rest of the survivor group and breaks off temporarily with Doctor Whitman, a cowardly anthropologist who turns Lara over to the enemies at the first sign of combat. The captives beat her, threaten her, and kill a compatriot in one of the most disturbing and unsettling sequences in a video game I have seen in a long while. Tied up and almost murdered, Lara shoots her captor - the very first time Lara Croft ever kills someone. The experience profoundly effects Lara. She grows sick and distressed before standing up, pushing forward despite her injuries.

From the "survival instinct" ability to way Lara clutches at her wounds, limping along and sounding absolutely exasperated, this is not the traditional Tomb Raider. Crystal Dynamics is taking the franchise into some dark and rarely explored territory, and I doubt we will ever look at Lara Croft the same way again.

For more information about Tomb Raider and the Tomb Raider franchise, be sure to visit the Tomb Raider wiki.


Tomb Raider -- Crossroads Trailer -- E3 201203:25

Tomb Raider -- Crossroads Trailer -- E3 2012

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