Far from the double-backflipping superhero we know from previous titles, this reboot/prequel of the Tomb Raider series sees Lara Croft as a vulnerable, frightened young girl struggling to survive in a hostile environment after a terrible plane crash.
We took control of Lara as she scampered around the crash site looking for survivors...
A brief but heart-pounding climb up the ruined plane reminded us of the excellent opening to Uncharted 2 (which saw Drake dragging himself up a train hanging perilously over a cliff). We had to find viable handholds, while bits of the plane tore off and collapsed all around us, a tense ordeal that has Lara visibly shaken once she lands back on solid ground.
Tomb Raider isn’t about finding missing artefacts or even invading tombs, from the twenty minute segment we played. Instead it’s all about survival. After taking shelter from the storm, we were told to hunt for food in the surrounding area. A brief search later, we discovered that Lara isn’t alone on this island in a grisly fashion: glancing up towards the swirling black clouds, we spotted a putrefied corpse dangling from a tree, bound by its ankles to a branch. This gruesome find was actually our salvation, as the body had a bow strapped to its back. We were forced to get up close and personal, clambering up the trunk before snapping the bow free.
Armed at last, we crept through the undergrowth and spotted a lone deer snacking on some foliage. The hapless beast wandered straight towards us and we pulled back the bow string, holding down the button until the power meter (a circle around your target reticle) was high but not quite in the red. With that we unleashed, and our arrow bored straight through its skull, right between the eyes.
A gory cut-scene showed Lara hacking up the animal and slicing out some prime fillet, at which point we were supposed to create a fire to cook our supper. Instead, we tried taking down a rabbit with another well-placed shot, but the little furball scampered off. To make up for it, we fired an arrow straight through an innocent bird that had landed on a nearby rock, which won me a free coffee from our erstwhile editor.
So far Tomb Raider shows great promise, and we can’t wait to find the full truth behind that mysterious hanging corpse and continue Lara’s island adventure. And for those that are curious, yes Lara’s chest is reduced from previous titles, but still a decent handful...
Here’s a short video of Lara escaping the plane wreck at the very beginning of Tomb Raider, right before I was told to stop filming by a dude wearing a t-shirt and a tie.