The new teaser trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider was released June 1st to a range of opinions from ‘yah, can’t wait,’ to ‘it’s not like the old days, I miss Core’. I don’t quite understand the latter attitude. I love the old Core era games, and am currently doing a let’s play of Tomb Raider 2 and playing the Last Revelation for fun. But I don’t think a love for the old should come at the expense of a lack of enthusiasm for the new. The Angel of Darkness hurt, a lot, and Crystal Dynamics have been a bit hit and miss, but I’ve never lost the hope that the future of Tomb Raider can be an awesome one.
I do feel some of that hope when watching this teaser trailer for several reasons. Firstly, it opens with Lara talking about the famous explorers of the past (embarrassingly, the only one I think I recognise is Amelia Earhart) and what it is that drives them – ‘the desire to discover something more, the search for something greater’. The heavily implied theme is – what drives Lara to do what she does? That’s something I’ve been wondering since the first game. When I played Tomb Raider (1996) for the first time, and when I was stuck in the Tomb of Qualopec for weeks, I can remember wondering who Lara was. What was her background, why does she go into these old, dangerous tombs? It was the first time a game gave me a character that really fired my imagination. Despite the occasional suggestions throughout the games – her love of the adventure, the borderline obsession – they have never really explored this question, rather they just wanted you to get on with the actual adventure. Getting into the head of Lara and getting a better idea of what makes her tick could be an interesting element to the game.
Secondly, she’s on her own. No crew mates. No annoying dudes in her ear piece. It’s just her and the environment. And the environment is merciless.
The problem with Crystal Dynamic era Tomb Raider is that the exploration and adventuring has always been easy. I never felt like I was in any kind of danger and the only time Lara died was when I did it deliberately to see what happened. While recording the Let’s Play of Tomb Raider 2, I said several times that I would rather be fighting a T-Rex than doing some of the platforming, because despite the fact that it’s a PlayStation One era game, it’s still nerve-wracking to play. You know with this game that one false move could mean death. The modern games don’t have that power and to me that has always been their biggest problem. The idea being conveyed in this teaser is that the environment is a brutal enemy that will stop at nothing in its attempts to kill her. If we could just get a lot of traps to go along with this, then maybe this could be a game that would finally recapture the spirit of the original series.
Thirdly, holy crap, but…
…Is that a tomb? I still can’t get over the lack of tombs in Tomb Raider (2013). They seemed to be small caves with little in them to explore. Instead we got shanty towns and lots of people to shoot at. This wasn’t Tomb Raider but I am hopeful that Crystal Dynamics are going to put Lara back in the tombs and have her explore the unknown again. The above image does also hark back to the older games with the use of flares instead of a torch and an environment that feels as though it has been undisturbed for a long time.
The problem, though, with these kinds of trailers is, it’s very easy to put together a nice animation and get people excited. They did that with the last game and I still ended up underwhelmed. It may turn out that once we see some gameplay footage (hopefully soon at E3) it will just be business as usual. But I remain hopeful that this game can give me the Tomb Raider experience I crave again.