L’il Lara: Tomb Raider Goes Retro

By Alec Meer on March 6th, 2010 at 12:04 pm.

The next Tomb Raider game won’t be a Tomb Raider game. Rather, it’s called simply Lara Croft and The Guardian Of Light, it’s to be download only, and it looks to be an arcadesome, isometric action-platformer. Albeit one with lots of tomb-raiding. Wuh?

It’s a break from the rather exacting puzzles and spiralling narratives of the core Tomb Raider series, in favour of man-killing en masse and high score-hunting. Very much a coin-op mentality, in other words. Stay those gasps of dismay, though, as the lack of the Tomb Raider moniker rather suggests this isn’t the direction the series overall is heading in. It’s just a fun little thing to enjoy in the downtime between the major games.

Oh, and it’s also to be cheerily co-operative, with this weeny version of Lara clearing tombs of bad people with the able assitance of Mayan good egg Totec. She’s got pistols and grappling hooks, he’s got spears and a shield, and it sounds like they can combine these killing tools in interesting ways – Totec poking a spear into a wall for Lara to use as a ledge, for instance.

More details in this Gamespot preview. I’m quite taken with the idea of this – something simple and silly after this month of exacting strategy games appeals to my worn brain. It’s due later this year, and so far seems to have been announced for PC-only. Can’t imagine that’ll last, but it’s nice to feel briefly special.

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38 Comments »

  1. LewieP says:

    I wonder what happened to the reboot that looked all serious and modern…

  2. Tusque d'Ivoire says:

    but what about the various roundnesses of the character that defined this pop culture phenomenon??? now we don’t have a camera to swivel around all the inapropriate places? won’t this new approach make any nude patches worthless?

    Does the inevitably younger, more console-y audience even know the very old game that is tomb raider?

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    James G says:

    Need to get back to Underworld and finish it. Had one of those annoying moments where I finished a fiddly awkward bit, died by stupidity, and then got sent back to a checkpoint a bit too far away. Knowing that I have to do said fiddly awkward bit again when I return isn’t much of an incentive. Especially as I know I’ll probably makes the same stupid mistake again.

    It’s a problem that has been the death of many a game.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      I didn’t find too much in the way of fiddly awkward bits in Underworld.

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      James G says:

      Might just me being crap. Was in the Mexico level where you are draining the pool of deadly water stuff, and you keep getting those annoying skeletal dog things (Sorry, I forget what everything was actually called. It annoys me when I see other people do this.) spawning around you as you move down. Just found the section tiresome. The I got to the bottom, grabbed whatever it was down there, and couldn’t grapple from ring to ring fast enough to avoid the rising water as I re-opened the taps. I then re-appeared at the top, and would have to go through the whole process again. Then again if I once more failed on getting back up.

      It is possible that I’m missing something, and there is an easier route out of this area, but I’ve not gone back to have a look.

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      Vandelay says:

      I don’t remember too many fiddly bits neither. You must have also been unlucky with checkpoints, because I remember them to be very well handled.

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      Sagan says:

      @ James G:
      I had that exact same problem. I died at the same spot and was very annoyed at the checkpoint placement because I would have to do so much again. Except the more I think about it, the more I think that it turned out that the game had already saved it or something, and I only figured it out after I had climbed all the way down for the second time and there was nothing at the bottom. Or maybe that it turned out that I didn’t have to climb back out the way I came in. But I only figured that out after I got stuck half way during the climb back up, and then I noticed that there was a much more obvious option that I missed.

      Anyway I remember there being confusion in that room, and that I unnecessarily climbed around for a long time. I would recommend reading a walkthrough before you try that room again to avoid frustration.

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      Christian says:

      This is exactly the reason I really don’t like the whole concept of checkpoints. While I do understand why they are there and why certain developers might think they are a good idea and add to the action or challenge, I just don’t like them.
      I prefer to make my own checkpoints where I see fit..meaning: I want to save when I think is a good point to save and not have my experience fragmented by design. I kind of like the danger of saving in a wrong place and not being able to complete the section because of that (e.g. a second before something hits me, killing me. Over and over again after each load, no escape). That’s me being stupid and that’s ok.

      I think Prince of Persia-Sands of Time did it quite nicely, with the ability to turn back time..that seemed to be a nice idea and a compromise I’m willing to make. Also, the Mass Effect 2-system, only letting you save when there’s no real action going on (which is of course an old idea..).

      But checkpoints leading to me having to repeat stupid, tedious and boring parts of the game (which shouldn’t be stupid, tedious and boring in the first place) have ruined the one or other game for me. Just couldn’t be bothered to do it over and over again (it’s a bit like the game is laughing at me and saying “haha, you’re to much a noob for this, go play somewhere else”. And I happily comply).

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      Sagan says:

      @James G:

      Since I had the same problem as you, I did some research into the matter, and I’m now pretty sure you don’t have to climb down there a second time. Look at this video:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7m4_ondna8#t=6m00s

      She starts climbing back out at 6:00. She then spends two minutes collecting the relic, and then climbing out of there only takes 10 seconds, because you can grapple almost directly to the top. When you died, the game simply placed you directly at the top to save you those 10 seconds. (and because you had already flooded the checkpoint at the bottom) I’m pretty sure that you should already have the belt or whatever it is that you collected down there, and that you do not need to climb down again. To make sure, you should load your save and see if you can collect the treasure that she collects between 8:00 and 8:20 in that video. If you can, then you don’t need to climb back down.

    • MarkN says:

      I’m guessing you got stuck on the same bit as me. The bit at 3.20 in this video (that the guy makes look much easier than it is).

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lAUDkC69kw

      It took me probably 40 attempts to get this, and each time I’m pretty sure I had to fight both sets of enemies that precede it. The trickiest part was the platforms that are in the way between Lara and the ledge, and I kept on getting snagged on them, which ruined the swing, and with the liquid rising that meant death.

      So, I was really miffed when the first walkthrough I found when looking for this area was this one, which doesn’t have that bloody platform in the way:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_peHmykfQKA&NR=1

      Looking at the videos the only difference I can see between them is the rotation of the twisty thing with gold rings on in the starting rooms, but I can’t remember what that actually does.It probably determines whether you’re going to remember this level with a terrible burning rage for the rest of your life or not.

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      James G says:

      Ahh thanks, I’ll go back and have a look. (Just hope I haven’t lost my save in the meantime.)

  4. Stu says:

    Lego Tomb Raider!

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    HermitUK says:

    See, why not go down the platformer route but throw out the combat entirely? We like the puzzly explorationy bit. Any combination of Lara and Guns is just a recipie for disaster.

    • Wulf says:

      I agree, I love the puzzles in Tomb Raider games, but the combat is fairly meh. It’s broken, for one thing, particularly dull, and worse, it has… interesting effects on Lara.

      Lara: Oh no, I just killed a relatively innocent person! D: What have I done? *head in hands.* OH WELL! :D *merrily skips away.*
      Lara: Oh no, I did it again! D: What have I done? *head in hands.* OH WELL! :D *merrily skips away.*
      Lara: Oh no, I did it again! D: What have I done? *head in hands.* OH WELL! :D *merrily skips away.*
      Lara: Oh no, I did it again! D: What have I done? *head in hands.* OH WELL! :D *merrily skips away.*
      Lara: Oh n–oh sod it, I’m going to stop pretending I’m not a complete monster, now.

      Her ‘moral dilemmas’ in the later games were incredibly grating for me. Either she’s a gun toting psychopath or she’s not. Personally, I’d rather see her drop the guns and take up an oath not to kill, thus forcing her to use more creative means to get past obstacles that she could’ve otherwise gunned down. It would make for a far, far better game.

      That’s probably why Batman: Arkham Asylum was Tomb Raider-ish, yet far, far better than any Tomb Raider.

  6. TheApologist says:

    Yay more Tomb Raider. Still think the most recent entries have been a bit ignored.

    I hope the action orientation of this is not indicative of the main series’ direction. Playing through Uncharted 2, which I thoroughly enjoyed, made me hanker after the bigger, more complex puzzle-y environs of Underworld.

    If they go after Uncharted’s quips-and-guns style, I can’t see TR coming off well in comparison.

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    Vandelay says:

    Can’t say I’m to fussed on this at all. Combat was always the redheaded stepchild of the Tomb Raider series and one of the best parts of Anniversary was that it mostly ditched it (Underworld also made the combat pretty easy, so it wasn’t too distracting – would have been better without any though.)

    I was kind of hoping for a remake of Tomb Raider 2 while we waited for a true continuation. Anniversary was such a fantastic game and marrying the success of that with the best entry into the old-gen series of Tomb Raiders would have been fantastic.

  8. Wulf says:

    Wait, going by the title, does this mean that Lara is channelling Indiana Jones, now? Hm! Maybe that’ll make her less of a soulless psychopath, but I doubt it’ll make the usually fairly broken games she stars in any more fun.

    Not to mention that this looks like a HD remake version of the DS games, and the DS games were nightmarishly poor, clunky controls and a limited field of movement only being the start of their problems.

    So very not interested in this, then.

    And since I brought it up, I want another Indy game, damn it! I loved all of those, the adventure games especially, but even the desktop adventures (hooray, Indy roguelike!), and the Infernal Machine. LucasArts, get on it!

  9. bhlaab says:

    But… wait, tomb raider is going retro in a style of game that tomb raider never was, even back in the retro days?

  10. Mman says:

    It sounded bad to me at first, but since the developers have stated it’s intended to be a side-game and not a main entry it could be a fun diversion.

  11. Wulf says:

    So it’s escalated from shoes, has it?

    (In regards to a spam-post that was quickly nuked. Well done, chaps! It’ll be interesting to see what pops up next, as those spam posts are pretty funny.)

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    Sagan says:

    Boo my other comment was marked as spam. Get your spam filter in check RPS. It was a very valuable comment giving James G advice, because I had the same problem in the same room and I remember that I was also frustrated, except in the end it turned out that the frustration was not merited. I don’t remember the details, what exactly I did wrong in that room, (either I didn’t have to climb down a second time, because the game had in fact saved my progress, or I didn’t have to climb up because there was a different solution) but in my other comment I recommended to James G that he should read a walkunder (I’m paranoid to use the word ending in ‘through’ because I think that may have triggered the spam filter) before he tries that room again.

    Anyway about the game:
    Can’t say that I’m happy about this. I’m glad that they are trying something new, but it’s unfortunately a genre that I classically do not enjoy. I liked all of Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider games, and I wish the company made something more along the line of games that I enjoy. I know they are also making another Tomb Raider game, and that’s not what I’m talking about. Maybe they could have gone more in a RPG direction, with a proper story and decisions to make and lots of exploration. I feel a little stupid complaining about a company that tries something new, except I expected more from Crystal Dynamics than a shooter.

  13. Jae Armstrong says:

    Isometric… platformer.

    As words to strike fear into the heart of man go, those are fairly fucking terrifying.

  14. Richeh says:

    What? If hipster kids who weren’t even born when gameboys were sold can make chiptunes, I don’t see why not.

    Synthesized nostalgia for the unremembered eighties</b.

  15. Wednesday says:

    Underworld was painfully underated.

    I loved it, best fun I’ve had with a ‘Raider since the first.

    • stahlwerk says:

      This is the truth, and I will switch to the secondary weapon to defend it, fat-fingering a healing item in the process.

      What a great game, beat mexico just yesterday after discovering that melee is very effective against the undead. Don’t forget to move the blue pillar at the bottom before climbing back up!

  16. Meat Circus says:

    Given the pisspoor sales of Underworld, what makes you think the Tomb Raider franchise is going *anywhere*?

    Lara may need to accept that whilst she was asleep, Nathan Drake ran in and stole her bra.

    • Xocrates says:

      Actually, Underworld seems to have outsold Anniversary and had similar sales to Legend. It was a slow seller though.

  17. Jayt says:

    Tomb raider and/or unchartered without guns/combat plox.

  18. Brumisator says:

    “the core tomb raider series”

    O IC WUT U DID THAR!

  19. Louis F. says:

    Gee, I was expecting a point-and-click mystery game…

  20. l1ddl3monkey says:

    I had that problem as well. Figured it out eventually (something to do with jumping and firing the grappling hook at the same time if I remember rightly) and it still wasn’t as annoying as the bits with the motorbike…

  21. Urthman says:

    1. Screenshots remind me of Trine, in a good way. The isometric part worries me, but if they can make the camera behave, this could be quite fun.

    2. Combat with Lara sucks. Best thing about Underworld is you can turn the monster hit points all the way down and the gun damage and ammo and Lara’s hit points all the way up and basically ignore the monsters (click twice to make them die).

    3. But! In an isometric game like this, maybe the combat would be more fun? See Trine, and maybe Duke Nukem Manhattan Project or Bionic Commando Rearmed.

    4. I really love the idea of studios releasing a small-scale budget game like this between AAA releases. Could they please do this for Prince of Persia & Spider-Man as well? See also Dragon Age Journeys and Bionic Commando Rearmed.

    5. Forget about Lara’s little penchant for homicide. I gave myself the giggles playing Underworld by saying “It’s the World’s Shittiest Archeologist!” every time she casually kicked a pot to pieces, or better yet, caused a tremendous unique historical site to crumble to ruins by playing around recklessly with the ancient machinery.

  22. Mil says:

    Why is everybody saying that this game is “isometric”? None of the screenshots I’m seeing are. Am I missing something, or people are just using the word without knowing what it means?

    • Urthman says:

      I think we’re using the word “isometric” to mean “3rd-person with a fixed-camera that you can’t control.” Which is not literally isometric, but is more like isometric than any of the the other camera perspectives common in 3d games these days.

    • Mil says:

      Sorry, I don’t get it how “3rd person with a fixed camera” is “more like isometric”. There are plenty of isometric games that let you control the camera; I don’t think fixed cameras are any more frequent there than in games that use perspective projection.

      Is this usage of “isometric” common in gaming circles? I find it pretty bizarre.

  23. AbyssUK says:

    Tomb raider, but she finds a portal gun… now your talking.