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E3 First Impressions: Tomb Raider

Posted on Friday, June 10 @ 11:48:58 PST by

Lara Croft isn’t the untouchable busty phenom she used to be. In this Tomb Raider “origins” story, Lara is much younger and inexperienced. It’s through the events of this new story that Lara develops her survival skills.

The story starts off with Lara aboard the SS Endurance, when a catastrophic event takes place, tearing the boat in half and throwing her frail body around her quarters. As she reaches for help, she plummets into the exposed sea. Some time after, she awakens inside a mysterious cave, bound and tied, hanging upside-down from the ceiling.

This is when her survive-at-all-costs instincts kick in. She uses her momentum to sway back and forth until fire catches the cloth she’s wrapped up in. “This is going to hurt,” she says. But not half as bad as what’s next.

She falls down the chasm, landing on a pile of bones, one of which pierces her obliques. Again, forced to do what she has to, to survive, Lara tears the bone out of her flesh. Blood tatters her clothing. She stumbles about the room, screeching in anguish. Pain, visible in her eyes. But she must push forward.

As she does, she’s grabbed by an evil figure, whose intent isn’t quite clear. What is clear, though, is he’s not trying to help Lara, and is likely responsible for all of the discarded bones littering the floor of the cave. Lara kicks his hand away and flees. Rocks crumble sealing off any chance her pursuer has of catching up with her.

She’s made it. Or so she thinks. Next was a series of puzzles that used fire to set off a chain of events. Even early on in the game, the puzzles were that complex. Now, this is more in line with the Lara Croft we’re used to.

As the game progresses, Lara learns new skills and grows more confident in her abilities. It’s the development of her character that is significant. She starts off extremely vulnerable and shows how she becomes the ass-kicking Lara of past titles.

The game looks simply gorgeous, and so does Lara. I can't stress that enough—she's simply stunning. But it's because she seems more human than video game character. Cave and jungle environments are realistic, rivaling—and possibly beating—any other game on any console. But it’s the facial animations that really shine, especially the appearance of fear and pain written all over her face.

It’s still very early on, as the game isn’t due out until 2012, but it was easily the most impressive console title I saw during E3. As soon as we have more time with the game (we can’t wait), we’ll have a more in-depth preview for you.

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