Rise of the Tomb Raider’s Xbox release date is drawing ever closer and, as a few Tomb Raider fans have put it, the “hype train has left the station”. And with just seven weeks to go until the game is out, the train is certainly picking up speed as it races towards the finishing line.
The latest gameplay trailer, Descent into Legend, gives us a few brief glimpses of some of the game’s intricate environmental puzzles and turns the spotlight on some of the ancient locales Lara will be visiting in her upcoming adventure. What impressed me the most was the trailer’s focus on exploration which, like the Syria gameplay demo before it, is a welcome change from the combat-heavy sequences we saw earlier this summer.
So, what’s to like (or dislike) about this new trailer?
What I Liked:
- The opening shots of the snowy mountain ranges and forests of Siberia. We’ve seen similar scenes in previous trailers but they’re still absolutely breathtaking.
- That look of determination and focus when Lara takes aim and shoots an arrow. Sheer bad-ass. While she still seems to me a shadow of her former self (sorry, I’m a die-hard fan of Classic Lara), it’s clear that this Lara is no longer the shaken, self-concious young woman we saw in the 2013 game. Judging from that look on her face, she has evolved into someone you really don’t want to mess with…
- The improvised grapple hook. Enough said.
- Tombs! Ancient ruins! Sacred relics! OK, we’ve seen glimpses of these in previous videos but that mountain-top cathedral (or is it a monastery?) and the frozen ruins of what looks like a Byzantine church inside an icy cave make me a little weak at the knees. *fans self*
What I Disliked:
- While I’m happy that we’re not being treated to more of Camilla Luddington’s questionable voice-acting talent this time around, the trailer is let down by the cheesy monologue about “reaching beyond the boundaries of human experience”. It’s just 50 Shades of Fromage Frais.
- Lara’s hair still appears to have a life of its own and parts of her ponytail seem to vanish into her back at times, most notably when she bends over to examine some tracks in the snow. It’s sad that her choice of hairdo is still a talking point after all these years but, hey, what Tomb Raider-related discussion would be complete without a mention of Lara’s flowing locks?
- As a long-time supporter of the Snow Leopard Trust, it pains me to see Lara taking aim at a snow leopard. Yes, yes, I know she’s killed countless animals over the years and even took down a few snow leopards in the Tibetan levels of Tomb Raider 2. But given the fact that there hasn’t been a single verified account of a snow leopard attacking a human being (they’re more likely to run away) and the fact that these cats cannot roar, this scene bugs me no end.
All in all, this trailer is possibly the most visually impressive one Crystal Dynamics has released to date and I’d go as far as saying this may be the clip that finally convinces even the most jaded Tomb Raider fan to embrace the reboot series or, at the very least, give Reboot Lara another chance to prove her worth. The days of the Core Design games may be far behind us and the spirit of Classic Lara may be consigned to the games and spin-off media of the Lara Croft universe, but the future of the franchise is certainly looking brighter with each new gameplay video.
All that remains to be seen, however, is whether Crystal Dynamics can really strike the perfect balance between puzzle-solving, exploration, and deadly combat this time around. Fingers crossed.