Tomb Raider Turns 20: Two From The Vaults Make Lara More Appreciated

Wow. Every game has unused content from early concept art to trailers and other elements that never see the light of day unless properly preserved. Today’s unearthing of two pieces of Lara Croft memorabilia (digital department), come from Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix in time for the Tomb Raider franchise’s 20th anniversary. It’s hard to believe that much time has passed since Lara swung onto the gaming scene and became a worldwide smash, digital sex symbol (for better or worse), and even a role model of sorts to super-fans inspired by the character.

She’s survived some great and not-so-great games in the series, many, many deaths the introduction of the now forgotten by fans who know how to move on Kurtis Trent, two movies that weren’t so hot, but got butts into theater seats, and a two-time revival back into her former glory thanks to newer console tech and current developers Crystal Dynamics. Lara may have had some ups and downs over the years, but to those of us who dip a toe into the pool and replay her games from old to new, she’ll always be our golden girl.

Gamescom 2014: Why Tomb Raider As An Xbox One Exclusive Is A Lousy Move…

One: Tomb Raider got its start at a multiplatform game (PlayStation, Sega Saturn and PC), allowing many millions of gamers to see what original development team Core Design had created. While (very) dated by today’s standards, the innovation on a few technical fronts, a strong female lead character and the game paying homage to everything from Prince of Persia to the Indiana Jones movies made it an instant smash worldwide. Clamping the new game onto ONE system “forever” is to me, a mistake that’s going to result in lower sales for the new game unless there’s guarantee people will buy an Xbox One because of the new game. It’s likely in some cases, but I’d bet an old penny that any console sales are absolutely nowhere near what both Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II did for PlayStation sales back when both games were released.

In my years in retail, there have been a handful of games I’ve seen people slap down money to buy a console for and the first three Tomb Raider games are on that list. Granted, TR III was a bit problematic on a few fronts (and how!), but crazy difficulty aside, it still sold systems… Continue reading

E3 2014: Rise of the Tomb Raider: Off The Couch and Back To Business, Miss Croft!

 
Ha. Sometime during a play through of that Tomb Raider reboot from last year, I recall thinking “Poor Lara is going to need a LOT of therapy after all the hell she’s going through!” and as it turns out, that’s how this trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider opens. Set for a “Holiday 2015” release, most likely as a PC, PS4 and Xbox One game, I’ll gather the dark and stormy bits here mean the game will be packing some nasty weather and plenty of stuff blowing about in those outdoor locales, super-detailed visuals across all three platforms and the requisite pre-order bonuses and day one DLC we’ve come to expect.

Yeah, I’d rather pretend it’s 1996 all over again, and I was cracking open that shrink wrap on the original Core Design game not knowing what to expect outside of what a few glowing reviews noted. It’s not that I’m NOT impressed with the massive increase in power from these new consoles, mind you – it’s just that I prefer games I can pop in and play without thinking (or KNOWING) that I’m missing something important because I didn’t buy a specific edition at a specific retailer. Eh, I shouldn’t complain at all – it’s not as if Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix are shoving this out the door too early. That “holiday” dating and less platforms to program for means this one should be stellar no matter what it’s played on.

E3 2014: Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris: Your Action/Puzzle/Battle/Treasure Game is Coming Back!

 
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was a refreshingly retro surprise back in 2010 (it was one of the better downloadable console games of that year, in fact), packing everyone’s favorite Tomb Raider into a fast-paced action adventure with an isometric viewpoint, co-op play and plenty of challenge. Developer Crystal Dynamics has finally revealed the sequel, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris and it’s looking quite lovely indeed. Well, “lovely” in that “Holy crap, this game is TOUGH” manner in which you’re smiling while you’re playing it solo before calling up to three other friends to come over and give you a hand. My issue with this one is the same as the original: digital ONLY (boo!) and not available on the PlayStation Vita. of course, As this will run on the PS4, it would be nice to see some sort of cross-play feature on board just so publisher Square Enix could make a few more bucks, but I guess we’ll see what happens. I’m actually surprised this is ONLY for next-gen, as I can imagine those millions of PS3 and Xbox 360 owners out there who haven’t made the move to new consoles yet would love to spend some money on this one and more time with Ms. Croft and her new traveling companions. But what do I know? I’ve only been playing games since dirt was new…

Tomb Raider Top 10 Moments: Oh, Now You’re Just Showing Off, Lara!

OK, so I still haven’t gotten around to playing the new Tomb Raider yet other than the demo and showing a friend who bought the game how to get past one part he got stuck on (don’t ask). Anyway, I got a chuckle out of this not exactly spolier-free video from the dev team at Crystal Dynamics because it’s clear that yeah, they want you (and me) to go buy the game they worked so hard on. It did well critically and analysts aside, not too bad commercially (as in, hell, if I had the same number of hits and followers as sales this game has, I’d be quite a bit happier). Anyway, pull up a seat, check the video out and go pick up a copy of the game if yo have something to play it on…

Tomb Raider PC tressfx Demo: If You’re THAT Picky About Hair Animation, You Need A New Hobby…

 

There’s probably a fancy salon in your town that could use your assistance with some REAL hair problems, so pack up your gaming rig and roll it on in! Yes, yes, that hair animation in the PC version of Tomb Raider is indeed spectacular… but it’s also not that important unless you have stock in AMD, are one of those PC-only diehards (that ends up using a console-like controller to play the game because keyboard controls in 3D games like this are usually not as good) or hell, you just like flowing hair even if it’s digitally created. Eh, whatever, Sassoon… the game is great on anything you can play it on, so leave the graphics folks to their overclocking polygon and frame rate count fetishes, I say…

Tomb Raider “Reborn” Trailer: Everyone’s Got Girl Power, It Seems…

 

It looks as if Square Enix and veteran developer Crystal Dynamics have hit a big home run here in this reboot of the franchise and this new video is probably the best bit of PR to come out of this. Watching it is a bit tough, but you’ll want to rescue a tree full of kittens or kick a burning bus down the street into a fire hydrant right afterwards I bet. Just don’t tell the cops that I told you you SHOULD do this. I have enough trouble with people jumping in lakes and flying kites on my say-so. Just go buy the game instead if you have a PS3 or Xbox 360…

Tomb Raider: Guide to Survival #1 (Expect Lots of Running and Jumping, For Starters)

 

Lara’s new adventure/origin story looks to be one of those reboots for the ages, combining a more mature story and solid visuals with more cinematic (and mature) storytelling and even a bit of scares here and there. Hopefully, the game will surpass every expectation and get the audience it deserves, as it’s quite clear that Crystal Dynamics is pouring everything they’ve got into making what could be their best game to date. Provided the story is complete and there’s not a ton of DLC coming afterward to wreck the continuity, I’d say even the most skeptical TR fan should give this one a shot.

Hmmm… I need to carve out some time to replay the original game before this one comes out just because it used to be a yearly ritual for me for a while until I got a bit too busy. Sure, it’s ancient, but some of the more memorable levels still hold up well thanks to those puzzles and challenging jumping puzzles.

 

Tomb Raider: The Final Hours #2: Crystal Dynamics Gives Lara More Lift…

 

Second part in the “making of” series collaboration between Crystal Dynamics games journalist Geoff Keighley and hosted Zachary Levi (one of those actor/gamer types you probably know from some TV show or movie. I don’t know him, as I’m too busy playing too many games to pay attention to Hollywood types). This time out, it’s a look at the game’s story and what went into creating it. The “survival adventure” element and new take on the character will be the draw for me (OK, the amazing visuals are nothing to sneeze at) and I hope that this “reboot” gets the appropriate praise for what it does right and the proper amount of criticism for anything it misses. Of course, if poor Lara misses those jumps too many times, it’s back down to the depths of the bargain bin, right? Then again, I’m betting this will be light years better than some of the lesser games in the series older days. Angel of Darkness, anyone?

 

Tomb Raider’s Final Days In Development: Lara’s Makeover Is Complete

Here’s a brief look at Crystal Dynamics’ upcoming reboot, courtesy of game journalist Geoff Keighley’s Final Hours series of ‘making of’ documentaries. It’s a great piece for those of you curious about what goes into making a game and heck, anything that gets people not into the medium to see the magic happening is all right by me…