Gasping: Tomb Raider Footage

By Alec Meer on June 7th, 2011 at 10:57 am.

'Press X now to avoid a bruised arse'

In case you missed it – as part of my oh-so-insightful and not at all chaotic liveblog of the heavily staged, saccharine pantomime that was yesterday’s Microsoft pre-E3 conference – here’s a fair-sized chunk of proper in-game footage of the latest Tomb Raider reboot. We’ve only seen screenshots and pre-rendered stuff so far, right? Well, here’s how nu-Lara plays.

Warning: shirt.

Visually amazing (and often palpably gruesome and claustrophobic), though it’s not always entirely clear just what the player needs to do. Or rather, it’s entirely clear, thanks to regular on-screen prompts you apparently need to follow to the letter. The question is how much time you spend actually controlling her, and how much time you spend simply doing what you’re told. It’s very hard to not compare it to the Uncharted series of interactive movies on PlayStation 3 – akin to a Dragon’s Lair for a more modern and less cruel age – being as it is so heavy on quicktimery, and heavily scripted but impressive animation.

However, noisy little Lara also seems to have some sort of psychic power they’re calling ‘survival instinct’, plus there’s a throughline of using fire for puzzle-solving. I’m sure they’re simply showing off the most dramatic stuff at this stage – and dramatic it definitely is – given the video culminates with a mention of “open environments.” Free-roaming tomb raiding would be a wonderful thing for sure.

Autumn next year for this one, so there must be great huge gobbets of stuff they’re keeping from us. They’d better show more soon, or I’m bound to do something big. Like write a grumpy tweet or something.

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89 Comments »

  1. LarsBR says:

    I felt the excact same thing – mostly looked like a long qte. Which of course brings up the abysmal looking NFS: The run. What the hell were they thinking, “oooh a racing franchise! Let’s make it more fun with quicktime events!”

    • Gnoupi says:

      Yeah, my thoughts were also “nice movie”, when watching.

    • P7uen says:

      Ditto. I loved Hard Rain, if you’re going down that route then fine. If not for God’s sake let some of the action be actioned by my actions.

      Who designed the character you’re walking forwards to be looking back behind her and bobbing under the water?

      Sure it’s tense for a film, but if I was playing a game without prior knowledge, wouldn’t I assume the clever game designers were subtly prompting me to turn back? Even without knowing that that’s what Lara’s glance usually indicates?

      Doesn’t look from that like any thought was put into this as a game.

    • thesundaybest says:

      My guess is this is only for the opening sequence, which I gather this is. I doubt the rest of the game will play like this.

    • Dhatz says:

      also why did she become mrs.Obvious? (“I got to get out of here”)

  2. Moni says:

    From the sounds of it, it mixes the good old wandering around a tomb being completely clueless, and fast sequences of being told exactly what to do. I really want to see how that works out.

    Not sure about the voice, probably because I thought Keeley Hawes was perfect for grown up Lara’s voice.

  3. lurkalisk says:

    You can’t use that picture… GAMEINFORMER WILL SUE! Oh wait… Time has occurred.

    Looks, intriguing.

  4. Teddy Leach says:

    So it’s a Lara Croft bondage simulator? Oo-la-la.

    • Stick says:

      I was alt-tabbing around with the video playing and… erm… yes, the soundtrack is a bit torture-porn, isn’t it?

      Looks great, though, even if the Dragon’s Lair association is a bit worrisome. “Where’s the game?

  5. Nighthood says:

    INTENSE AND VISCERAL.

  6. Avenger says:

    “Ah, UHH! OOOH! What is this? What have they don to you? Must go that way, they must have heard me, More fire, Ohh. Uh”

    SHUT UP!

    “Hey, Listen!”

    • Koozer says:

      “HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!”

      “Why won’t you get in the bloody jar already, there’s a nice deep lake ahead”

    • Urthman says:

      “I’ve got to get out of here…I’ve got to get out of here!”

      “Oooh that was close…oooh that was close!”

      Who wouldn’t prefer this version of Lara?

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I wonder whether they cast a tennisplayer for this or whether they forced the actor to moan and groan this much.

  7. Avenger says:

    This is a console game…

  8. Guiscard says:

    Thats an impressive amount of dexterity for someone who’s been set on fire and had to pull a sizeable branch out of her abdomen.

  9. McDan says:

    Looking good, I for one will watch out for this. And I also thought your live-blogging was very amusing alec.

  10. JackShandy says:

    Lord, she is filthy.

  11. WJonathan says:

    I would have appreciated that presentation better if it only had bigger shirt collars and more robotic hand movement.

  12. Cinnamon says:

    I felt sort of sad watching that like I do with a lot of high profile console action games. It’s like that part of the industry has an open contempt for anything that might actually look like it’s a game to the point where I just watch footage of what they make and think, “what is this, it almost looks like a game, but what is it really.” Like it’s some sort of weird insect that might possibly climb into my ear and eat my brain. But nice camera work, animation and voice acting. Good job Crystal Dynamics.

    • Binman88 says:

      I think the problem is that there’s a big focus now on set pieces, and making a game look very exciting and cinematic. I’m ok with marketers portraying the game in such a way as to appeal to the magpies among us, as long as there’s good gameplay and story behind it all. If that demo is an indication of what’s in store for the rest of the game, then I’m not particularly interested; but in all likelihood the game will open up a bit and the exploring and puzzle solving of the previous games will still be intact.

  13. hotcod says:

    I feel people are some what miss judging what was shown. First of all it’s clearly from near the start of the game and from the looks of it is partly acting as a leading tutorial (note the bits where they are teaching you about fire) introducing you to some of the kind of stuff you will be doing.

    Secondly and most importantly the guy breezes through the puzzle. Do any of you really think you will figure that out first time, with out ever having seen it, as quickly and smoothly as he did it? That bit seemed like it would involve a lot runing around and trying things to work out what you need to do.

    When you look at it that way and know that the devs have a solid history of actually making games with the tomb raider stuff we are all looking for and mix what we’ve seen with the promise of an open metroid/zelda world (as gain abilitys you can acesses new parts of the island) the game is actually looking very very good.

    • Jockie says:

      While I agree with you (I think it looks great and it’s obviously the introductory passage of the game) it’s important to bear in mind that as PC gamers it’s our duty to be incredibly cynical of everything and anything that comes out of E3.

      I have no idea why that’s the case, but that’s just the way it is.

    • Jesse L says:

      Not just E3! If your heart doesn’t shrivel up a little bit more every time you submit a comment, you’re doing it wrong.

  14. neems says:

    They’re gonna have to sort out the frame rate for the console versions (long way to go just yet of course).

    You’re being a bit harsh on Uncharted though – Uncharted 2 is one of the finest games of this generation, it eclipses any existing Tomb raider game on every level.

    • Dominic White says:

      Except for the platforming. And puzzling. And exploration.

      The Uncharted games are really good shooters, but any adventurey bits they borrow from Tomb Raider are cursory at best.

    • neems says:

      I’ll give you exploring, I have to disagree with the puzzling and platforming. Granted there isn’t as much ‘adventuring’ in Uncharted 2 as in a Tomb raider game, but for me what there is was much better.

      The first Uncharted didn’t do much for me.

  15. Holybasil says:

    Moantacular!

  16. derella says:

    Garbage Island! Arrrr

  17. heretic says:

    There’s something wrong with her voice, she doesn’t seem particularly distressed to me. “What is this place?” a bit “what was that just now?”-esque.

  18. Clockwork Peanut says:

    Feeling a little apprehensive about this, I like that they are trying out new ideas(or at least ideas that haven’t so far worked their way round to PC); but if the entire game strips you of accomplishment I’ll be very disappointed. After-all, the Tomb Raider games of late have all been stellar, the only games that compare are the Prince of Persias but they don’t convey the same feeling of exploration.

  19. JonathanStrange says:

    I do hope there’s some progression with her as a character because I doubt I could tolerate even an hour of her crying and gasping in agony every ten seconds, bleeding everywhere and just generally being beaten up so that the game can continually prove how gritty and dark it is. Realistic? Maybe. Fun? No.

    Besides, I rather liked the old confident Lara. I know apparently that makes me a minority considering how many people whinge and whine about her, but I thought it was fun. But despite not being a fan of all the gritty mc grittiness (Really, a quick time event to pull jagged objects from her side? Is this SAW now?), were it to genuinely serve a purpose to forward her as a character, well… that could be interesting.

    Consider me intrigued, if far from sold. This obviously being the intro I don’t mind the linearity as long as it eventually does open up later and the puzzles become more complex and interesting.

    • neems says:

      I don’t think it’s actually a quick time event (could be wrong of course), I think it is literally just ‘press X to remove the spike. In your own time, I’ll wait.’ Basically it serves no purpose at all.

    • JackShandy says:

      Of course there’ll be a bloody character arc. Are you seriously considering the possibility that they’ll have Lara tossed around, beaten and broken for 10 hours before having her die alone and in pain?

    • JonathanStrange says:

      @JackShandy

      I don’t know, I haven’t played the game obviously. Wouldn’t be the first game however that teased at a solid premise but fell short in execution or alternatively just gave up at that character development and plot stuff in favour of being all edgy and ‘cool’.

      We’ll see.

  20. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I often perform acrobatics after getting a SPIKE through my midriff.

  21. cybernomad says:

    I always thought of Uncharted as the better Tomb Raider. And the most time in Uncharted you are jumping, climbing and shooting without any quicktime events. Actually I can’t even remember if there were any qtes in Uncharted. Surely, Uncharted is heavily scripted and has a lot of sequences but even so you are in control of the character most of the time. It is one of the best approaches of movieness in games, like minecraft is one of the best approaches of sandboxing in games. I’m glad there is both.

    • Sir-Lucius says:

      I think Mr. Meer may have meant Heavy Rain, not Uncharted. Aside from the adventurer theme, the gameplay shown here was much more reminiscent of Heavy Rain than anything in Guncharted.

  22. vodka and cookies says:

    Looks great, she’s a little too chatty though they need to tone that down a bit to Uncharted level chattyness as a reference.

  23. Shazbut says:

    In my world, every game would be judged on whether it’s still enjoyable in wireframe. I wonder whether this would pass the test.

  24. Jetsetlemming says:

    Feels really off to me to reduce what was a strong heroine to a mewling injured thing, a victim, constantly just barely not dying but being injured and abused over and over.

  25. Acorino says:

    Looks like it would make a great movie…
    …well, since these are merely the opening moments, there’s not much you can say about it. Except that I hope that the few QTEs that are there aren’t any indication that there will be many more of them in the rest of the game…
    Also, creatively, I feel it’s a disadvantage that they chose to stick with Lara Croft. We expect her to turn into a cold-hearted murderous bitch sooner or later. Otherwise they could’ve made a really likable protagonist. And if she remains likable, then it’s not Lara Croft.

  26. Tom OBedlam says:

    Oooh that looks nice. I fell out with Tomb Raider around 4 I think but that looks like it’d be fun again :)

  27. UW says:

    Has no-one else noticed that the guy says “She must use her survival instincts to escape..” and then she SETS HERSELF ON FIRE.

  28. Xocrates says:

    Yeah, if this is representative of the full game, then I’m not impressed at all. There’s too much QTE driven “cinematic” moments and not enough Tomb Raiding.

    If it isn’t representative of the full game (which seems kind of likely given that it doesn’t show the wide open world or the combat) then I wonder why they chose to pick that section in particular.
    I guess they may have just wanted to show the new “defenceless” Lara, but then they have her do complex acrobatics after being impaled through the torso, which kind of undermines the point.

    • AndrewC says:

      Every E3 presentation this year has looked like a heavily scripted QTE fest. It’s just the fashion, and the best way to have a controlled experience that paces well.

      Also, they’ll hold back other reveals – like a trailer just showing gorgeous open environments – for closer to release.

      So I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

    • Xocrates says:

      I’m all aware of all those points and I’m not arguing against any of that.

      My point is that this particular demo seems to fail to properly showcase even what it was intending to, making the game feel a lot less interesting that it has the potential to be.

    • AndrewC says:

      What was it intending to introduce? Admittedly we’re staring in the sucking void of the PRs mind here to work out what they were thinking, but i’m guessing this was about introducing the new Lara, how she is vulnerable, more grounded, more a surrvivalist than adventurer and all that gubbins. So staying small is good.

      So that’s what I think. Also I think that I would have rather have had lots of vistas and seeing Lara doing cool shit that i can actually control. But i’m Ok with that, E3 essentially being a sucking void of PR and all.

    • Xocrates says:

      No offence, but you could at least have read the entirety or my original post before replying.

      I DID say that they probably just wanted to show the new Lara, I also noted that they failed even at that.

      In the end we have a gameplay trailer that showcases none of the more interesting features and fails at showcasing the ones it apparently is trying to.
      The only truly interesting thing in the whole video is the fire behaviour.

    • AndrewC says:

      You are right, and I am sorry. This leaves with ‘don’t worry, it’s just the opening five minutes’ and ‘never try to second guess a PR, they aren’t human’.

  29. RogB says:

    lots of lady noises. Poor lass.

    looks a bit like ‘The Descent’ (the film)

    • Urthman says:

      “The Descent” — ugh. That’ is precisely what I was afraid of when they first started teasing this new direction.

  30. syntax says:

    More realism would be good, I thought when she fell and got impaled that was a ‘death animation’ also the gaps to jump are way too big to be believable. Tone that down and minimalize the UI and it will be much more interesting to me.

  31. max pain says:

    Nice cutscene you got there.

  32. Creeping Death says:

    “Oh I think they heard me…”

    Then maybe you should shut the hell up! No? Fine, go set yourself on fire again -.-

  33. Magrippinho says:

    Um, it’s nice to see porn actresses and script writers making it to the videogame world?

  34. Koozer says:

    As a medical professional from the school of Watching a Lot of Films, shouldn’t she leave the stick in to stop her innards dribbling all over the place?

  35. Rii says:

    Looks great. I’ve a few niggles, but most of them are readily accounted for by the nature of the presentation and its place in the game. Definitely on my ‘to watch’ list, and I say this as someone who’s never previously given a Tomb Raider game even a second glance.

    This sort of gritty, hardcore, yet wounded and even vaguely human character has long been missing from depictions of women in gaming. That the devs are promising not only that but an actual arc showing how this woman came to be is the icing on the cake. That they’re doing it with a character who – in her original incarnations – is probably the most well-known example of female characters in gaming being primarily objects of male lust is, well, icing on top of that icing.

    Now I’m hungry. =/

    • Urthman says:

      gritty, hardcore, yet wounded and even vaguely human character

      Isn’t that every female character from every survival horror game ever?

  36. bill says:

    You know, it’s our own fault. We kept complaining that games made us do all the boring repetitive grunt work, and then all the cool stuff was reserved for the cut-scenes.

    So the developers have called our bluffs and started making games that are entirely interactive cutscenes of us doing the cool stuff.

  37. Radiant says:

    *Hears phrase “Through a journey of intense and visceral survival”*
    *Throws video game bullshit bingo card away*

    E3: It’s as if hundreds of journalist voices screamed out in pain and then were suddenly silenced by pretty pictures.

  38. Nameless1 says:

    Surprisingly inspiring and interesting.
    Will keep an eye on it.

  39. _Jackalope_ says:

    I really hope this is just an interactive introduction. Really, really hope.

  40. HeavyStorm says:

    I stopped watching it midway through the trailer. Before, all I had to worry about was if the game was being too linear: if I only had one path to follow at all times and couldn’t choose the order to follow those paths. This was ten years ago. If I remember correctly, TR1 wasn’t really linear. You could choose where to go first, so maybe you get that shotgun before the T-Rex appears, maybe not.

    Now, watching this kind of trailer, I think: It’s no longer a question of whether I’m playing the game or just watching it (like, for example, Sonic Adventure … what a disappointment). Now the question is whether I’m playing the game or is the game playing me.

    I blame consoles altogether, but the fault is actually of the popularization of gaming as a whole. 15 years ago we were nerds who spend most of our time in a unlighted room staring at a screen. Now games are made for everyone — down to people who dislike reading, doesn’t know why most Hollywood Blockbuster movies suck (they loved Avatar, didn’t they?). We were the core of the market. Producers had to please us, we who know what good games are. Now they have to please them, because it’s way more lucrative. We get stuck with a few launches in a year (like Skyrim), but have to withstand bullshits like Dragon Age 2.

    Just crossing my fingers this doesn’t happens to ME3. Although they already claimed it will be more “streamline”, which, in my book, means “linear”.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      And I’m being way too arrogant here, but what the heck. Lara has “survival instincts”. When I play, I AM LARA. THE INSTINCTS SHOULD BE MINE, NOT HERS. Instead of teaching us to think, they steal the challenge and just show us the answer.

      Oh well, I’m having a crappy morning.

    • Stochastic says:

      A lot of people might look at your post and say “oh look, another cynical, PC gamer curmudgeon,” but as a cynical, PC gamer curmudgeon myself, I think you make some valid points. Perhaps I’m speaking prematurely, but linear, quick-time dominated games with high-octane scripted sequences and absurdly lavish set pieces certainly seem to be an emerging theme of this E3.

      The handholding we see in the form of Lara’s “survival instincts” ability is nothing new, but it seems to rob some of the satisfaction in puzzle solving. It also adds another layer of abstraction that reduces immersion. Think of how Half-Life 2′s physics puzzles would have been ruined had Valve provided you with similar indicators in how to solve them. I loved those puzzles because they required me to think laterally even though the solutions were relatively straightforward. Frankly, I also think it’s poor game design to use this sort of signposting. A well designed puzzle that strikes a good balance between being challenging and intuitive has no need for such blatant hint-giving. Look at how the Portal games use clever level design to essentially do the same thing in a much more subtle way that enhances rather than detracts from the satisfaction of solving puzzles.

  41. Iokanaan says:

    well, at least moaning Lara found herself a high quality torch.

    • Radiant says:

      And if you didn’t know that, after specifically picking it up, you are now holding in your hand a flaming torch; there is a nice icon that sits on your screen that says “flaming torch”.

      The only way this could be sillier is if the words “trapped in cavern” appears on one of the walls splinter cell style.

  42. Muzman says:

    Well Dirk the Daring has gotten a lot prettier over the years I guess. And the laser disk load times are almost undetectable these days.

    (seriously, it boggles the mind how far gaming seems intent on falling when it comes to big mainstream titles like this.
    For years now I’ve never encountered anything but hate and scorn for this kind of game design trend. It’s not representative obviously, but i just don’t get what an insular ecosystem AAA gamedesign must be for these things to be so endlessly imitated with what seems to be questionable popularity.
    If I was a games journalist I would probably spend all my time trying to cut through the PR to why the hell they do this kind of thing.
    I feel like I’m watching a cargo cult of different tribes all building phony airports thinking that’s what summons planes from the heavens. I just can’t fathom it, at all. Sure in games, the planes still land so they think they’re doing the right thing, broadly speaking. But that still doesn’t explain it to me.
    I would be thrown out of E3 in a straight jacket for running around like the guy at the end of ‘Invasion of the Bodysnatchers’, grabbing every developer and going “WHY!? WHY!? I DON’T UNDERSTAND. SOMEONE EXPLAIN IT TO ME, PLEASE! WON’T YOU LISTEN?!”

  43. Aesop says:

    Dragon’s Lair, David Cage blah blah blah. Pass.

  44. Navagon says:

    DId gameplay just fucking die or something? What’s with all the QTE bullshit?

  45. televizor says:

    That doesn’t feel like Uncharted at all, that game rarely had QTEs.
    Yes, it felt more like a cinematic thing than most action adventures but still, I loved it like an elephant loves it’s baby elephant.

  46. ZenArcade says:

    “Press X to avoid a bruised arse” Oh RPS, this is why I love you

  47. Dervish says:

    Just what I wanted in my games. Shakycam. Kane & Lynch 2 is the only other game I know that has adopted this horrible idea of simulating the camera movement of a man jogging behind you with a handheld. It’s not stylish. It’s stupid.

  48. adonf says:

    Why are those guys going the “I want to pee” dance, don’t they have bathrooms at E3 ?

    Also, QTEs and corridors. I’d be disappointed if I cared about gameplay and not only graphics.

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