Rambow: Tomb Raider’s Stealth And Shooty Shooting

By Nathan Grayson on February 22nd, 2013 at 8:00 am.

That game of verbal Twister gone horribly, horribly wrong up there? I’m pretty sure it’s some kind of an attempt at combining the words “Rambo” and “bow [and arrow]” – not, say, “Rambo” and “rainbow,” which I immediately suspected upon reading it. But then, I also wrote it, so I’m pretty sure I understand the author’s intent more than most. At any rate, that brain-and-bone-spattering word pileup occurred because of Tomb Raider‘s combat, which is basically Rambo, but even bow-er. Which is kind of wild, because Rambo already had a bow to begin with. But yes, Lara sneaks and turns baddies into pincushions and slays infinity men on her “first step to becoming a seasoned adventurer.” They really make you earn that title, huh?

So basically, it’s all about slowing acquiring new skills and building better weapons en route to becoming the ultimate killing machin– I mean, adventurer. Here’s the gist, as per Square Enix’s top-of-the-line gist production factory:

“Outnumbered and outgunned, stealth is frequently Lara’s strongest advantage. Approaching enemies undetected will allow her to pull of silent kills and keep fellow Solarii in the dark. The environment will also provide frequent opportunities for Lara to gain the upper hand. She must always be prepared to brawl up close, however, aided by dodge and counter moves and improved equipment. With wits and weapons combined, Lara is a smart and ultimately very dangerous fighter.”

There are some nice bits of subterfuge, too – for instance, distracting enemies with sound – but the environmental usage section struck me as kind of a joke. She’s stranded on an island full of unpredictable wildlife and potentially deadly detritus, so of course she’s going to… shoot explosive barrels. But wait, there are also explosive lanterns!

Also, while I’m nitpicking, why have videogame fisticuffs reached the point where they’re caked in even more slow-mo than the Matrix? And honestly, does that even fit this premise? “Lara’s an ordinary girl catapulted into extraordinary circumstances. She’ll have to use her wits, athleticism, and kung-fu magic superpowers to survive.” Does that seem a bit off, or am I just crazy?

I apologize. I do actually think Tomb Raider still looks fairly strong – just in a very traditionally game-y sort of way. The initial announcement got my hopes up for something a bit more, er, grounded, but they’ve been sinking – like an entire bowling alley in quicksand – ever since. I’m still anticipating an interesting (and hopefully not problematic) origin story, but tooth-and-nail survival this ain’t.

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67 Comments »

  1. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Still does not look like they spent the last 5 years creating this methinks the budget got slashed after Underworld underperformed (what did they expect when they cut the 2 best levels out of that game & made them Xbox 360 exclusive DLC only!). The PC pe-order price has been slashed to £19.99 which does not exactly scream quality does it!! If it takes 5 years to use their existing Tomb Raider game engine & reimage this in that time I would be very surprised its most likely the game changed direction behind the scenes several times & fewer people worked on it so the budget was much smaller.

  2. felisc says:

    niaaAarghHhh that voice, shut up shut up shut up.
    Has there been any long gameplay sequence released so far ? I’m vaguely optimistic but these trailers don’t say much.

  3. Narzhul says:

    But, what about the puzzles and archaeology?

    • Greggh says:

      WHAT?! I can’t hear you over the sound of explosions and gunfire… BEWM! Goes the precious 3rd century indigenous pottery art.

    • Bracknellexile says:

      That was my thought too. This is looking more like just another stealth FPS and less like Tomb Raider every time I see it.

    • TheApologist says:

      In fairness this is a video about the combat, but, yeah, I haven’t heard anything about the tomb raidering yet…

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        Which kinda suggests, there isn’t any.

      • Narzhul says:

        Me neither. Which is why I asked. Every time I hear something about this, it’s always about combat or that she’s surrounded and about to be raped etc.

        If there’ll be anything that sparks her love for exploration, adventuring and ancient relics, I’d like to see at least a tiny hint about it, rather than combat or what makes her “strong” later on.

      • Snidesworth says:

        Which is a shame. Even Uncharted, which the new TR seems to be drawing quite a bit of inspiration from, had lots of lovely locations to clamber about and explore in between the guns and explosions bits.

      • KenTWOu says:

        Tomb Raider: Tomb Gameplay Exclusive
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iecT9D8vTv8

  4. Davie says:

    It does look like it’ll be a pretty good action game, all things considered. However, the fact that they’re still trying to make Lara look scared and vulnerable while she’s planting ice picks in skulls and slow-mo shotgunning faces strikes me as completely hilarious.

    • Inigo says:

      I think that’s what the extended death scenes are for, but the effect is spoiled somewhat by the fact that Lara is some kind of mutant able to retain fine motor control after most of her hindbrain has been destroyed.

    • particlese says:

      Hmm…probably because the game’s supposedly striving for realism, I find the c-spine cleaving and shotgun faceplosions not so much hilarious as off-putting. I enjoy absurdity as much as the next person, but I’m getting the same vibe from this video that journos got at e3 with all the extreme, detailed violence. I play Skyrim without kill moves/cams for the same reason, though there, it’s obviously fantasy-skewed realism/immersion. If I need some hilarious videogame violence, I’ll stick to instagib-UT or Saints Row, thankya very much! (Or ROTT, squeeeee!)

      But to each their own…

    • stahlwerk says:

      Lara has a “no open-casket funeral” policy, apparently.

      Can’t say I’m a fan. My enthusiasm for this is running on fumes, all that’s left from thoroughly enjoying Underworld.

  5. Robslap says:

    I’m not going to get to shoot a t-rex with a shotgun again am I squenix… AM I?!

  6. TheApologist says:

    In the other modern TR games my memory is that there were several chucks of puzzley tomb raidering broken up by a bit of action-y stuff (on a boat, in a mansion, in a big office building etc.).

    With this surviving on an island set up, it seems like they can’t have that flow, but are forced into a more linear sequence of: crashing on an island, escaping from the bad people, surviving on the island, then the Island’s one big tomb, then rescue/escape.

    I wonder if that can work as the pacing for a game? Or maybe there is just no tomb raidering…

  7. Sinnorfin says:

    I cant really stomach the squary animeish enemies..i am afraid of what they’ll turn Thief 4 into.

  8. JonathanStrange says:

    I might be mistaken, but wasn’t there a grand total of one human enemy in the original tomb raider, and he was a rival adventurer turned boss?

    The originals were at their best when the game just gave you a large open and intricate location to explore, rife with environmental puzzles that needed solving. Hell I can still remember some of the locations such as the Greek temple, though for the life of me I can’t remember that one human villain guy.

    Guess in my mind Tomb Raider was always about, well, the tombs. Not Lara Croft and certainly not shooting people gruesomely. I don’t even like watching bloody movies but this game from what I’ve seen borders of SAW levels of violence at times… seems like if this is the direction Tomb Raider is gone, it’s just no longer for me.

    • bigjig says:

      My feelings exactly. They’ve completely lost the sense of wonder the original Tomb Raider games had in order to make a Uncharted clone. You’d think there would be a little more raiding of tombs in a Tomb Raider game :(

    • basilisk says:

      Nope, there were about five or six of them altogether. But the franchise changed a whole lot since then, and I really think it’s a bit silly to expect the latest Tomb Raider to be about raiding tombs considering the vast majority of the series wasn’t about that at all.

      They already returned to the original format with Anniversary, and it worked pretty well, but I don’t think there were any intentions to continue in that direction.

      • Askeladd says:

        Well, to be fair they said the new TR is gonna be a reboot. A prequel.
        So it’s not far fetched to expect puzzle and archaeology bits? Wasn’t it always about the mystery?

        They made some kind of Terraria FPS out of it, with first person slow-mo kill moves. WTF?

        At first they try to make me care about Lara with the setting and then they make her into a serial killer?
        Okay, we can justify saying slaughtering everybody is a way to survive, but what about choice?

        What exactly is the purpose of this game?

        • basilisk says:

          Well, it’s a reboot of Lara, by now well-established as the trigger-happy mass murderer of people and endangered species as well as careless destroyer of immensely valuable artefacts, not really of Tomb Raider as such; I thought this game was meant to explain how she got this unhinged, not really why she chooses to raid tombs every once in a while. All the games in the series after the first one should have been titled Lara Croft and the MacGuffin of the Day, it would have saved a lot of trouble; it’s easy to imagine this reboot is actually called just Lara Croft, because it makes more sense that way.

          But you are right, it seems to be a very confused game. I was looking forward to an Underworld-meets-Zelda kind of thing, but I’m starting to think that’s not what this is going to be, after all. I’m not sure what it turns out like in the end.

  9. Nova says:

    These days slowmos are used to act as a kind of adrenaline/split-second representation. Which actually makes kinda sense, but the result is, of course, an abundance of slowmos.

  10. wodin says:

    OT But I have to mention it as this game reminds me of it. AssCreed 3….I’ve played the first three sequences so far and does anyone else think your character is like revolutionary James Bond.

    • impeus says:

      Haytham? Yes, actually! Thank you for putting your finger on exactly what I disliked about him, despite simultaneously being somehow charmed.

      Charismatic slimeball. That’s him exactly.

      Disclaimer: I have only watched Connery era Bonds. This feeling may not transfer to the current Bond.

      • DrScuttles says:

        Don’t worry, Bond is still completely repellent. Though in the interest of balance, other opinions are available.

  11. Xorkrik says:

    Every time I see a video they show off her shivering in the cold night by a fire. And in this one climbing a icy mountain in a blizzard. I can’t help but think of the hundreds of guys in jackets she has killed. I wonder why the developers won’t let her put on a jacket…

    • Davie says:

      I thought the exact same thing seeing her climbing that snow-blasted cliff. Just, damn, woman, put on an extra shirt or something.

    • Bhazor says:

      Between the wierd “woman in tiny tank top fights heavily armoured professional soldiers”, the creepy rape avoidance QTE and the bizarely patronising tone of the trailers I’m beginning to think this may be the most clueless game in the series yet.

  12. Dubbill says:

    The gear gating system (love that they make it sound like something players should be looking forward to, rather than a lazy anti-exploration mechanic) is pretty ridiculous. You can only penetrate the flimsy makeshift barrier with a single blast from the shot gun? The blocked off area at your feet can only be opened by shooting a rope-arrow into it and giving it a yank? They aren’t even trying. And worse, it looks like the rope-arrow-tug and rope-arrow zip-line can only be used in predetermined, brightly marked locations. Lame.

  13. maninahat says:

    Is that a trench coat wearing super villain? Jesus christ.

    When they very first revealed the new Lara; bloody, wounded, and crawling her way out through a claustrophobic, half flooded tunnel, I found that to be very atmospheric and a nice change in tone for action games in general. It was about negotiating an interesting, deadly environment, which was still very Tomb Raider, but in an interesting way.

    And now all I get to see is arrows blowing up barrels and shotgun execution stealth maneuvers.

    • Askeladd says:

      Exploding-Barrels: When did this become a necessity for every FPS? In most games they don’t even make sense where they put them.
      I came to the conclusion the innovation of modern FPS stopped with exploding barrels.
      How about ricocheting bullets? I can’t say many games used that. The last one I can remember was FEAR afaik.

      • Brun says:

        The first FPS I remember that made liberal use of exploding barrels was GoldenEye on the N64.

        • Askeladd says:

          No, it started with Doom. There may be a game earlier than that but it think it doesn’t matter.
          My question was: Why does every FPS nowadays need exploding barrels, spread through the hallways?
          At least make some of them empty, to fool the fool that likes to shoot those things.

          • riverman says:

            I was ranting to myself the other day about the ad nuseum use of AI traps in general. there has never been a point in a game where I saw a barrel or an explosive crate, shot it, killed an eemy or two, and had it add anything positive to the experience. instead, I just bitch and moan about what sort of contrived rubbish I’m being force fed, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to *not* shoot the stupid barrel.

  14. konrad_ha says:

    When I saw the first trailer I immediately felt the need to write a lengthy article about what a joke the new Tomb Raider is.

    Unfortunately it’s in German, but if you speak it you might enjoy this: http://rawinput.de/videos/spiel-des-jahres-das-neue-tomb-raider-ist-ein-meilenstein/

  15. DK says:

    Nice to see that they skipped the genuine anti-war and human themes of Rambo and went straight to the missed-the-point-entirely KILL SOME FOREIGNERS BECAUSE THEY’RE BLACK AND I’M WHITE of Rambo 2 and 3, to continue the headline analogy.

    Too bad none of the so called games journalists are actually calling the devs and publisher out on their hamfisted attempts at manipulation – re “Lara is really human now! She’s all scared and vulnerable! But only in cutscenes”.

  16. Artista says:

    This is the first time I see a “heavy” type of enemy in this game, though they hardly showed him. Now I’m even less of a fan of the combat in this game.

    Shooting the same guy for 5 minutes while circling around him because he’s so slow is fun…

  17. neolith says:

    Why are there still games that show pitch black shadows in broad daylight or in snowy enviroments?

    • Askeladd says:

      I guess because your monitor isn’t able to display the outside world.
      If you record with a camera at daylight and watch that on your screen you don’t have the same illumination.
      Afaik OLEDs are more capable to show what a ‘real’ day looks like because of higher contrast ratio and illumination.

      • neolith says:

        No, that’s no the reason. Almost every 3d engine released after Doom3 allows you to have shadows that are not full black. This is not a technical problem and it is not at all related to monitors. It is related to bad design.

        • Askeladd says:

          Oh, I guess I misunderstood you.
          The answer would be: They only seem to be using one light source. In reality every object reflects light, which is the reason we don’t have pitch black shadows. They can use more light sources to make it more realistic.
          I think there was a Cry-Engine tech demo that showed this effect very good.

          • neolith says:

            Sorry for the misunderstanding.

            My question was rethorical. I am well aware of how light works in reality and how it does in games. The thing is you don’t even have to use a fancy engine to achieve a better effect, you just have to adjust some of your settings. The ugly shadows are not caused by technology but by sloppy design.

  18. karthink says:

    What’s with the colors in this game? Why is a tropical(?) island looking so dull? If the brown-grey aesthetic is intentional, man, I don’t know what to say.

  19. shishkarobert says:

    The violence in this game gives me a nasty feeling in the gut. They go out of their way to emphasize her suffering and agony as disgusting thing after disgusting thing happens to her. In many other games where limbs fly and brains bounce around, I don’t have a problem with the violence. It’s… uhh.. “gamey” and fake. If you lose, your head may explode or your chest might get riddled with bullets, but they’re not going to show your character fall down to his knees and suffer hopelessly for the next fifteen seconds and dwell on the anguish.

    In this game the protagonist is crying, sobbing and moaning in very convincing ways almost constantly from the footage I’ve seen. They want you to identify with the intense circumstances she is going through, but they got a little bit too obsessed with it. That one where she gets caught in a current and gets her throat skewered by a wooden spike made me shudder. The developer who was showing it off sounded almost embarrassed. Of course, in the original you could get eaten alive by a T-Rex. If they had that same death in this game, the camera would likely zoom up to her face to show her expression of pain. Am I making any sense at all? I’m having trouble articulating this.

    Another game that made me feel a similar way was Heart of Darkness for the original Playstation. You’re playing as a damned child who gets murdered in absolutely torturous ways. Getting to close to a hole in the wall means a centipede pulls him inside and eats the kid’s head while his legs are kicking frantically only to go limp a few seconds later. No game comes close to disturbing me as much as that game.

  20. Bhazor says:

    “Weapon parts hidden at random encourage use of fast travel”
    So grinding respawns as a feature.

    Fuck you
    Fuck you
    Fuck you.

  21. DXN says:

    Another mass-murdering psycho. Great. Oh, sorry — another mass self-defensing hero. Yeah.

    All these games trying to have their cake and eat it too. Spec Ops, Dishonored, Far Cry, CODMOH, hell, practically any big recent shooter or franchise (Mass Effect, Metal Gear, Half Life, whatever..) tries to hint and imply, either directly through their content, or indirectly through their systems and approach, that “Oh, but isn’t all this killing and violence really kinda horrible? Hmmm? I mean if you really think about it? HMMMMMMM!?”

    But they still go to absurd lengths to let you do a ridiculous fucking amount of it though. Again and again and again and again and again. Self-deprecation starts to wear thin when it’s just used as an excuse not to make changes.

    Violence is cool. Violence can be meaningful. Tons of art I respect has violence. But jesus christ on a crumpet, video games, you gotta switch up the formula sometimes. “Hero(es) go on a quest to press E on the macguffin, bodycount in the 3 or 4 digits. Move forward, aim, shoot, watch cutscene, repeat. Kill the bad guy, win. Go.”

    Kane and Lynch 2 is one of the only honest murder simulators out there, and heck if that don’t make ya think, hmm?

    YEAH THAT’S RIGHT MOTHERFUCKERS I WANT TO CENSOR ALL THE GAMES BECAUSE I HATE FUN AND I CAN’T HANDLE A LITTLE LOOSE KETCHUP. THAT’S THE MESSAGE HERE.

    That bit was sarcasm. Really, I don’t object to violence. I’m just getting so bored of it, and so bored by the way it’s implemented. The new Lara Croft coulda been Miasmata with gymnastics. It coulda been Dear Esther with danger. Prince of Persia with treasure. Mirror’s Edge in the tropics. It coulda even been its own whole new fresh thing. But nope. It’s just another sociopath’s fever-dream: a place they can kill endlessly without being scolded, because those are bad guys, it’s cool. And hey, you can dynamically throw them off cliffs onto spiky rocks. Hi five!

    *shakes fist*

    Brought to you by DXN is having a grumpy week, ya jerks.

    • Askeladd says:

      Yeah, they made this game mediocre at best. All that potential – gone. Instead of creating something stellar with this great franchise they are dumbing it down.

      Regarding the violence:

      The violence felt forced with all this kill cam nonsense. Lara isn’t a special forces vet, but that little girl is pulling of one kill move after another. The setting is supposed to draw me in as a person, so how am I supposed to feel as a grown man about that? I wouldn’t be able to kill so relentlessly, but they are trying to sell us that Lara is.

      If you ask me, I’d say they are clueless.

      P.S.: If you put so much violence in your game you can just go all the way and let the shotgun-kill-cam-action-sequence remove two thirds of his head and splatter it everywhere, so Lara gets a bit of brain and blood makeup. Tasty and a bit of crunchy, those damn bones.

    • ucfalumknight says:

      I have to agree with you. Most video games perpetuate violence. Giving the players true alternatives to lethality, actually enhances game play and game experience. I am replaying Deus Ex HR and have been trying to murder as few people as possible. This adds a new dimension to the game. Even when a kill order is the objective, you still have the ability to choose non-lethal means. I actually feel bad, when a nameless thug is murdered, instead of just being knocked out. DEHR actually gets this right. You can play the entire game as a pacifist and succeed doing it. While I have not played Dishonored, I am assuming the same types of non-lethal choices exist.

      • Naum says:

        (Off topic:) Dishonored is even better in that regard, since Arkane went out of their way to make the non-lethal alternatives interesting both story- and gameplay-wise. Occasionally they’re even morally ambiguous. The game also apparently adjusts later levels to make them more suitable for a lethal or non-lethal approach, depending on your performance in the previous sections. All in all I was very pleased with the amount of effort put into catering to the ghost playstyle.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Fine points but you can’t lump Dishonored in with that lot as it’s entirely possible to complete the game without killing a soul.

      • DXN says:

        Fine points but you can’t lump Dishonored in with that lot

        Watch me. ;) Sure you can non-lethal it, but my point is that even something like Dishonored is violent as fuck at its heart, had huge swathes of its development and essence devoted to killing and maiming and brutality. To me, playing it non-lethally felt like playing against the game, no matter how good the developers intentions. Same with DEHR, albeit not quite as bad. Even if you don’t let the killing surface, it still constitutes these games’ metaphorical skeleton.

        I ain’t saying they’re not decently made games. I’m not saying they don’t make nods and concessions towards non-violence, even try to grasp at it. What I’m saying is, they’re still built around violence. They can easily and naturally accommodate the choice to kill all the time, because that’s at the core of their nature as games. Even the non-violence is basically violence with slightly different animations, see?

        Is this hypocritical of me, as someone who loves Thief, the original DE, System Shock, Half Life 1, 2? I dunno, maybe. Obviously they also have a lot of violence built into them (sometimes poorly). But doesn’t it feel like they had a lot more pumping through their veins than violence, too? Intrigue, atmosphere, plots with interesting stories and characters, strangeness, place, history, experiments with the form and the medium? And more to the point, wouldn’t it be nice if in the 10 years since those original games, we might have gotten to a *more* nuanced, subtle, intelligent perspective on violence, maybe even found ways to explore themes *other* than violence in interesting and fun ways, rather than just finding ways to make it slicker and easier and prettier and OH YEAH IT SURE IS BAD BY THE WAY MMHMM now here’s an upgraded flensing knife?

        That whole approach is dull, now, and the obsession with it is starting to get frustrating and yeah maybe even a little creepy too.

        S’what I think.

        • eclipse mattaru says:

          To me, playing it non-lethally felt like playing against the game, no matter how good the developers intentions. Same with DEHR, albeit not quite as bad.

          DXHR at least had that thing where guards could wake up the ones you took down, so playing non-lethally added a bit of a challenge. In Dishonored, going non-lethal just gave you an insufferably syrupy ending, and -assuming the loading screens are to be believed, I couldn’t care enough to play through the whole thing twice- less enemies patrolling around, so you could say the game was actually better if you just murdered your way through.

  22. MaximKat says:

    Is it just me or this game looks like a reskin of Far Cry 3?

  23. yourgrandma says:

    Someone needs to reboot this reboot…

  24. Highstorm says:

    I have never, ever felt compelled to complain about violence in a game. It neither angers nor excites me, typically. But it just feels so out of place here. Maybe it’s just the way so many gruesome kills are strung together in this particular video, but that is not the Lara Croft I’ve come to know and love from past games.

    Previous videos in this continued series made me decide I wasn’t going to get it. This one makes me wish it didn’t even exist in the franchise.

    • slerbal says:

      I agree. These videos have shocked me. Now granted I’ve not played Tomb Raider for a while, but I thought the emphasis was on exploration and puzzle solving not brutal, unrelenting violence. I was actually horrified several times in the last released video with the casual murder.

      I obviously have strong cognitive dissonance between what Tomb Raider actually is and what I think Tomb Raider is. Either way, this is a definite no for me.

      Honestly I wish Tomb Raider would look to Minecraft for inspiration rather than the manshooters.

  25. eclipse mattaru says:

    Every new video makes me want this game less and less. These guys need to stop promoting it, because I’m almost at a point where I want them to give me back the money I don’t even intend to give them in the first place.

  26. Rumpel says:

    was hoping for an experience aching to the first quarter of far cry 3, only worse because of suggested rape (or as nate describes it “tooth-and-nail survival”). this video was very, very disillusioning.

  27. Eclipse says:

    Tomb Raider Underworld was good, this one instead, looks like it’s going to be bad, bad, bad

  28. Eclipse says:

    I’d love a non linear Tomb Raider, but with emphasis on exploration, platforming and puzzle solving, not on murder…. An island with one or more huge temples and no enemies besides few wild animals just to keep you on your toes and maybe few monsters\mythological\paranormal stuff, but no bald baddies with guns :\

  29. buxcador says:

    When the only tool that you know is a hammer, everything is a nail.

    These useless console developers only know how to make a single kind of game, and they just put over it some labels like “Tomb Raider” or another franchise.

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