Life Lessons: Tomb Raider Teaches Us How To Survive

By Nathan Grayson on December 18th, 2012 at 11:00 am.

Challenges Lara will be forced to overcome: cultists, pirates, the elements, the sniffles.

I got lost in a forest once. Admittedly, there weren’t any horrific plane wrecks or crazy gibberish-screaming cultists, but I learned a lot. For instance, never go anywhere that’s not your own bedroom without some form of map, and also poison ivy is the absolute worst. But presumably, I gained some kind of applicable skill from that experience. According to Tomb Raider, however, the reason I haven’t figured it out yet is that I need to go sit at a camp fire and absorb its wisdom-imparting fumes. That’s the base camp system in a nutshell, and – in addition to making perfect sense – it provides Lara with quite a nice range of options in her bid to make it off the island in one piece. Raid the tombs beneath the break – coated in cobwebs and haunted by the ghostly echoes of pun threads long since passed – to see a video of it in action.

It seems like a fairly standard upgrade system overall, but with a few interesting wrinkles. Or, put another way, did you see what Lara did to that guy’s face? That’s not how arrows work, but points for ingenuity. I am, however, also a wee bit concerned. Apparently we’ll be scavenging around for pieces of salvage to upgrade items, and some objectives will require us to re-forge tools – for instance, the ever-versatile (read: Lara is very proficient at embedding objects in people’s heads) pick axe – until they’re up to snuff. Without proper fine-tuning, I could see those moments feeling like arbitrary progress gates. Let’s hope that doesn’t end up being the case.

Survival Instinct could be another potential sticking point – at least, if it serves as a “follow the convenient ethereal space lights to solve the puzzle” button. But I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

Beyond those things, though, Tomb Raider’s packing quite a bit of promise. At this point, I really just want to play it for myself already, as potential quibbles mostly come down to minutiae. So I will do that – on March 5th in the far-off Future Year of 2013. Hm. That’s a bit of a wait. I guess I’ll just have to be content occupying myself with all the other games in existence until then. Bummer.

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81 Comments »

  1. SocraticIrony says:

    Doesn’t teach us to wrap up warm though. Or build a shelter at your base camp. Oh, it also teaches us that hallucinations are really helpful and should be encouraged.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      She’s no Ray Mears

    • Lanfranc says:

      I learned everything I know from hallucinations.

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      bear912 says:

      The first two things that will kill you will be dehydration and exposure. Better go find some fresh water, Lara. I hope you remembered your iodine so you don’t have some horrific intestinal adventures in a week or two. That would be a bummer. :(

      Next, make a shelter. I think you’ll also probably want all the clothes you can find. Even if you don’t need them to wear, you can use them for your shelter. Next, do your best to find some means to create a fire, since you’ll probably want this to stay warm, dry your clothes, and cook any animals you kill. You don’t need to start hunting, yet, as hunger will take much longer to kill you than thirst or exposure. If you can find a pot, or some other sort of container, you might even be able to avoid those aforementioned intestinal adventures if you can build a fire. That’d be nice, right?

      Also find a sat phone. Sat phones are good.

  2. Moni says:

    “Smart, resourceful Lara”

    If you’re cold put on a jacket, silly child!

    • inertia says:

      Smart, Resourceful Lara™

      • Lanfranc says:

        Also Trying Too Hard™

        Well, at least they’re trying.

      • Urthman says:

        “The internet is crucifying us over this sexism thing. Get me a video that shows Lara is…you know…smart and, um, resourceful!”

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          Heheh. Yeah basically everything in this comment thread.

    • ElvisNeedsBoats says:

      Grabbing a jacket off the first guy she killed would be realistic. Instantly vetoed by marketing as it would conceal her chest.

    • Bhazor says:

      It’s incredibly patronising the way he says it. The fact he seems to make a big deal out of her being a woman. “Atta girl, Lara. Isn’t she clever?”

  3. inertia says:

    That guy’s voice is very annoying. I wonder if sitting at the campfire also resets all the enemies?

    • Network Crayon says:

      I genuinly hope it does, the tomb raider series could learn a lot from a game like dark souls.

    • dontnormally says:

      I feel like I’m at an amusement park, being told why the ride I’m about to ride is amusing, from a television, and it’s making the ride less and less appealing each time I hear that patronizing tone enunciate another wretched word.

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    Gap Gen says:

    Someone who can fall down a mountain, hit every rock and branch on the way down, and still be alive is probably a good person to ask about survival.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Homer Simpson, then?

      • Hoaxfish says:

        “To cross this canyon, we’ll need a skateboard, and to build a high ramp”

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        Gap Gen says:

        Pretty sure he’s been inside a nuclear reactor and survived, so sure.

        • Ravelle says:

          he also has been hit by a cannonball in the stomach multiple times.

  5. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Lara swears a lot now? Oh goody.

    • yurusei says:

      How unlady-like for a Lady of the Croft House.

      • guygodbois00 says:

        My thoughts exactly, sir. As some bounty huntress somewhere said:
        “It may be a touch unladylike, but I’m going to slit your throat, I am.”
        Of course, she’s long dead now.

    • McCool says:

      I have to admit I’ve been super skeptical of this game, but hearing Lara Croft shout out “SHIT!” every time she falls over is something magic. It’s like after all of these years, the two of us are finally in sync.

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    RedViv says:

    Not really concerned about the conceptual progress gates. Not when the game is coming from the developers of one of the best Metroidvania titles.

  7. Hunchback says:

    I never was a fan of the Tomb Raider series… Gotta admit the more i see about this incarnation, the more i feel like “GIEF IT NAOOOO!!1one”

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    Okami says:

    That video featured the words “iconic” and “reimagining” in it’s first ten seconds. I’m pretty sure that this has to mean something, but I don’t know what.

    • Mctittles says:

      At least it didn’t have “firefly”, “rogue-like”, “retro”, or “tessellation” :)

      • Xardas Kane says:

        I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I’d throw my money at the screen for anything that has the word “Firefly” in it. “Serenity” works as well.

        • solidsquid says:

          Path to Serenity: Zen Meditation Simulator

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          lazy8 says:

          Yes, anything Firely would be great. I would really like to kickstart more Firefly-episodes or a Firefly-RPG.

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          Or dare we say it – the words Firefly and Roguelike together?

          Maybe that wouldn’t work out so hot in practice.

          What we really need is Firefly: Torment – the visual novel space RPG. I’d kickstart that! Just keep Joss Whedon’s grubby little character-torturing hands away from it.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            So make a Firefly game but get rid of the guy who created, produced, wrote and directed it. Wait, WHAT?!

            While we are at it, let’s make a new Gothic game, only not with the original creators, I’m sure it’s gonna turn out great. Oh, wait, it didn’t – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcania:_A_Gothic_Tale Or write another A Song of Ice and Fire book only, you know, without George R. R. Martin.

            Makes about as much sense.

            PS. No, I need to repeat this – a very, very bad and stupid idea.

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            Hahah fair enough good internet person, I was speaking in unnecessary hyperbole.

            Let me respond briefly in all seriousness. I think Whedon creates some great characters concepts, and has a knack for dialog. I just don’t personally like his approach to plotting, and the toolbox he draws from in creating dramatic tension. IMO it usually involves sticking his characters in shitty situations (which usually feel really contrived to me) where we can all watch them squirm or die arbitrarily.

            I dunno, I prefer my TV drama to be more subtle. For that matter I’d rather Whedon just focus on dark comedies, since I think his strengths all grow from his sense of humor, not his dramatic sensibilities.

            That said, I’m pretty certain that most TV involves the creator handing off individual episode scripts to other writers, or at minimum co-writing with outside input. It’s not like Whedon wrote every line of dialog in every episode of all his shows.

          • Geen says:

            HOLY SHIT FIREFLY ROGUELIKE FUND IT FUND IT FUND IT

  9. honuk says:

    EXP, fetch quests, and go-here button. yep, sounds like a 201X video game.

    oh, and don’t forget QTE kill scenes and atmosphere-obliterating design-firm-resume embedded menu systems

    • Anguy says:

      That’s pretty much what I thought after watching this

      • Syra says:

        Me too, but it’s also the first time this game has actually seemed interesting to me – despite that. Also despite the god awful water effects and some awkward animations. It just looks sooo console. And I’m talking pre-uncharted quality.

    • P7uen says:

      Please don’t let that mean we’re having QTEs until 2019.

    • f1x says:

      I dont see the problem with QTEs (except in excess!)

      Its an OK thing if its not abused (The Witcher 2 did it fine),
      actually here it seems they just exented a bit the usual press E to perform a silent kill that is pretty much in every game out there, so I dont really see why so much hate

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        What you cant tell from the video is how much of the action is a button-triggered animation. You are right – it can be ok when its a quick thing, like a stabby takedown. But once it takes any more control away from the player than that, it begins to get like the old 80′s laserdisc things where it was just pressing buttons to make an animation go. I personally would rather ALWAYS being in control, or developing control systems that allow complicated actions without the need for a scripted animation.

        QTE’s were after all originally used to allow devs to depict actions that a control scheme otherwise doesnt allow – a shortcut. Its time we got rid of this crutch and replaced it with something that doesn’t feel trivial, immersion breaking and (often) patronising.

        • f1x says:

          Yeah of course you are right, with your points

          I have a different view on it tho, in my opinion when QTE are used a test of reflexes / timing, its a nice thing because of bringing a bit of the arcade – mash button thing, a bit of gaming skill in terms of button reaction
          Sometimes FPS or TPS feel a bit too much into the simulation thing and a bit less into the “pure game” thing, for example Gears of War reload mini-game feels like a well done QTE, subtle and it dosnt break the flow of the game

          problem here with Tomb Raider is as you said, it feels a bit too obvious, if it goes the God of War QTE bosses style, which is like you said more similar to an interactive movie than other thing, then its wrong, but if its a subtle minigames to spice up the stealth kills then I dont see a problem

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            I can see what you mean. I remember playing Street Fighter II and the need to memorise button / stick combos to do the best secret moves. That kind of thing can be fun. The history of the QTE did in fact come from this starting point – you had to figure it out! But not everyone could do it, and so we moved to the ‘screen prompt’ model.

            I think thats my main problem with QTE’s -to me they feel patronising. I like a game that gives me a sense of mastery over something I want to master. A great example was the suit abilities in Crysis 1. There’s so much in there you can do that isn’t obvious – stringing together powers with weapon types. And it all happens in real time. I get such a buzz from being able to manage my energy bar, speed mode into strength punch, speed mode into stealth-leap, get behind an enemy, C4 charge, limp away on minimum energy and BOOM. None of it is done for me.

            Its preference I guess, though I can see where you are coming from. There is a GOOD way to do QTE’s, its just its usual application is not a good one.

          • f1x says:

            yeap,

            Crysis 1 powersuit is a great example, (something they lost in crysis 2…)

            What you said, when its about screen prompt or just watching a “kill cam”/taking control off your hands, its not gonna be good

            And after watching this video a couple times more I’m afraid Tomb Raider went the “wrong” way with it, I still would like to play it to see how it is in the end but yeah I’m more pesimistic every time :(

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Yup. Get the feeling a few board meetings at various companies have been shown the sales figures for Skyrim. Yo dawg! I heard you like Skyrim! So I put Call of Duty in your Skyrim so you can craft while you mission area!

      I like the movement towards openness thats happening lately, but why oh why do they have to still keep putting in all the dross? Do genuinely innovative games REALLY not sell? Is it so much of a risk to just dispense with What Sold Before? Dishonored suggests you can depart from the really mainstream and do well – but perhaps that only happens when you have the kind of heavyweight, recognised, shareholder-fear-calming dev team that Arkane put together?

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Yup, that about sums up this decade in AAA gaming.

  10. mikmanner says:

    Getting a bit of a King Kong the game of the movie game vibe from this

  11. tobecooper says:

    It looks nice, I guess. Though, I liked all the unbelievable jumping in Tomb Raider games. And here with the pseudo-realism and grit, she’s mostly busy stabbing people in the face or falling down. At least there seem to be some tombs to raid, and thingies to put into other thingies to open gates.

    • Crowbar says:

      I always thought the unbelievable jumping stuff was what the Tomb Raider games were all about.

      Not having it as the main feature basically means they’re making a game with the Tomb Raider title to cash in on fans, instead of just making a new franchise.

    • fugo says:

      i always assumed the gate was already open when putting thingies into other thingies

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    Gap Gen says:

    Yes, the pick seems more for use in the Leon Trotsky fashion (survival combat!) than for generic survival tasks. Also unsure about setting things on fire as a way of scavenging from them.

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    Henke says:

    This is pretty much the same game as Far Cry 3 is, isn’t it? “Rich kid stranded on an island has to learn to fend for him/her self while fighting the local wildlife as well as various evildoers.” Not that I’m complaining. Open world survival-focused stuff floats my boat nicely.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Brody is a total dick, but I think thats necessary. Its actively confusing when Vaas is berating you – even though you know he is a psycho, he gets under your skin. The sort of abuse victim mindset if you will, where you start taking on your abuser’s criticisms as valid even though they are vastly distorted. Brody IS a dick, “skydiving with a hardon, with his finger on the pussy trigger”. Its a massive distortion of the truth, but believable enough that a bit of doubt mixes in with the anger. Vaas was without doubt one of the most affecting bad guys I’ve seen in games, especially with watching the Far Cry Experience videos beforehand – its just a pity his role isn’t as long as it could be.

      Either that or I’ve had too many bunny boiler girlfriends and now have Stockholm Syndrome

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    Jackablade says:

    Stab, stab, stab.

  15. Shantara says:

    “Reinforced Limbs+”

    Suddenly, Deus Ex?

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Its always best to copy as many other successful games as possible when creating the next iteration of your multi-sequel-prequel-reimagining franchise

    • elevown says:

      lol- its not refering to reinforcing LARA’s limbs but her bows so no on the deus-ex.

  16. Dominic White says:

    The structure of the game sounds a lot like the Soul Reaver series. Games which were by – surprise, surprise – the same team. So yeah, I’m looking forward to it. Soul Reaver + Uncharted + Batman Begins seems like a solid formula.

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    particlese says:

    My favorite part:

    Fire can also help lara acquire hard-to-get salvage, stashed in crates that are hanging in nets.

    That sounds comically mundane by itself, but meanwhile, the video shows Lara walking up to a shoulder-height crate-that-is-hanging-in-a-net and setting it on fire with a torch. That might be mildly challenging if the torch was battery-powered, or if, say, the net was out of reach, but nooOOOooo. I really hope this is there for comedic effect rather than being indicative of typical “puzzles” or even being part of the tutorial on how to press the X button. It could certainly use an occasional laugh between all the sad and/or impaled faces she’s making.

    • KevinLew says:

      That part of the video was so idiotic. Keep in mind that the devs could have picked any other scenario to show an example of “fire as a resource” and they intentionally picked the scene where she’s standing next to a net and just burns it. Not to mention that she has a freaking survival knife already as that’s part of her axe.

  18. wodin says:

    Looks good to me…as with all games it’s wait and see…I no longer get excited by games pre release I’ve become to jaded..

  19. f69 says:

    I never understood the whining over QTEs. Occasional QTE is not relevant unless we’re talking something like Heavy Rain level.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      In your humble opinion.

    • Urthman says:

      That word “occasional” is where the devil lurks.

      • f69 says:

        I’m only seeing interactive cutscenes in between regular combat & exploration. For me it’s neither here nor there. I’m not seeing QTE based gameplay.

  20. jonfitt says:

    Her vision is augmented.

  21. Hardmood says:

    ok, this is now on my list of games-i-pay-the-fullprice-or-even-preorder now. that list isnt very long tbh^^.

  22. RandomEsa says:

    “Smart, resourceful Lara” feels like other M Samus as “Strong independent woman”. Like many have pointed out looting a jacket so she wouldn’t have be so cold with only a tank top doesn’t seem “smart and resourceful”. I also can’t wait for upgrading my bow for 10% extra damage because that is how rpg-elements work.

    While I don’t know her back story in this game, but it always bugs me when a character finds a item or a weapon she has never used before, but can still use it like a professional.

  23. Artista says:

    Maybe I missed something but… Lara finds a makeshift climbing axe and upgrades it until it looks like something she just bought in a store? Realism.

    Other than that and the ‘I can reach this crate just fine but I’ll just set this net on fire anyway’ supply crates, this game is looking great. I didn’t like it at first because it was too different from the old games that I love, but it’s not like those games will stop working when this one is out.

  24. int says:

    The skill ui looks superfluous and clunky.

    What the hell is the point of having a flashy skill spending system? Just give me a goddamn list, I don’t need zooming aero-esque windows.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      Especially when all the upgrade paths are totally linear as far as I can tell.

      It looked to require clicking through about 4 menus just to spend a skill point, which I think is fair to characterize as *shitty fucking UI design*.

      See, a UI should take complex information and display it in a way that is deceptively simple, not simple information and display it in a way that is deceptively complex. =_=

  25. junglist 69 says:

    Lara has her Warface on…….

  26. hypercrisis says:

    I thought these games were about puzzles