rAge 2012: Tomb Raider Hands-On Preview

Editor: Brady Ruiters

Tomb Raider is probably one of the games I’m really looking forward to in 2013. Fortunately, it was available for play at rAge 2012. It’s also a nice change of pace for the series since the story heads back to Lara’s origin before she became the strong woman that gamers know her as today. I had to wait a little while since the booth was rather popular at the expo. However, when I did get around to playing it, I couldn’t help but be pleasantly surprised.

The demo opens up after the trailer of Lara attempting to escape a den. During the trailer, she also falls onto a sharp object which pierces her abdomen. When the demo starts, Lara can be seen holding her abdomen after removing the sharp object. She also manages to find a radio and attempts to use it to communicate with anyone who may be able to help her. Lara makes her way inland toward a forest. However, she first finds a plane wreck suspended over a waterfall; it seems to be the only way to climb up. I start climbing and immediately, the plane begins to shake. Leaping up between gaps and climbing as fast as she could, Lara escapes the clutches of death once more as the plane falls after she reaches the top of a cliff.

rAge 2012

After making her way toward the forest, Lara discovers a campsite where a fire once burned. The cutscene goes into a close-up; she’s cold, she’s scared and she’s in pain. Not only that, but she’s also all alone. She then tries to communicate via the radio but all she can hear is feedback from the device, nobody responds. She needs to keep warm so Lara builds a campfire and tries to light it with the one match that she found. With luck, the match lights and ignites the tinder in the campfire, giving life to a small ember and then a controlled blaze.

The screen fades to black and Lara wakes up the next morning. Her next move is to find food. It’s here that I realise that the game has no real HUD (Heads Up Display). There are a few notifications but they don’t really take away from the immersion. I take control of Lara and navigate her through the forest until I see a deer in a clearing. It sees me too and runs off into the brush. A little further on and my attention is drawn towards a corpse hanging from a tree branch. After focusing on the corpse, I see an XP bar on the left side of the screen. I asked myself, “An RPG-type system in Tomb Raider?” This is going to be awesome. Upon closer inspection, it seems that corpse is in possession of a makeshift bow; something I can definitely use. I scramble up the nearest wall and balance Lara on a log before she reaches the tree trunk and holds on for support. The corpse is swinging subtly so I time my actions as to grab the bow as the corpse swings closer to Lara.

rAge 2012

Got it! With the bow in hand and some arrows lying not to far away, I decide to wander a little farther into the forest in order to stalk my prey. Sneaking up on a deer, I draw back one of the arrows and release; it goes straight into the animal’s body. It panics and attempts to escape but not before I send another arrow into its body. The deer heads to another clearing and thinks itself to be safe as it begins to graze again. I send one third and final arrow towards the deer and it hits home, resulting in the best keeling over in defeat. As Lara gets closer to her prey, she notices that it is just barely alive, whimpering from the pain. Lara apologises just before the deer fades away. She then pulls out an arrow and cuts open the deer with it.

Deer meat in hand, I decide to make my way back to the campsite by retracing my steps, all the while feeling like I’m starring in an episode of “Ultimate Survival” just without Bear Grylls making everything look easy. As I make my way back to the site, the rain starts to come down and it comes down hard.

rAge 2012

After making it back to the campsite, Lara starts another fire and roasts her meat. This also prompted me to master a new skill after accumulating enough XP during the level. However, before eating, she attempts to communicate on the radio once again. This time she actually manages to get hold of Captain Roth who she pleads with to come fetch her but he ultimately encourages her to go find him. After this cutscene with Lara talking to Roth, the demo ended leaving me wanting to play more of the game. Also, as much I would’ve have liked to play the demo again, a line of gamers had formed behind me, wanting to play and they were growing increasingly impatient.

Tomb Raider is expected to be released on the 5th of March 2013 on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.

Known as Brady Ruiters by day and GuitarDemon by night (Well, on the PSN mostly…) Professional, creative and frank, a self-proclaimed gaming journalist moulded by a passion and fascination for gaming and music, and in turn, taking a crack at shaping the rest of the world with the very same obsession. That, however, remains a trying task.

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