Kris Wall reports from EGX 2015…
Another game which drew highly impressive queues and wait times at this year’s EGX was Crystal Dynamics’ Rise of the Tomb Raider, the follow up to their excellent 2013 series reboot.
Players were given a small 20 minute segment to play through that showcased everything from action to exploration and puzzles. Anyone familiar with the footage from E3 this year will know the location of the demo as Lara found herself in Syria hunting for the location of a secret tomb in a race against time before a band of mercenaries bombed their way in first.
After a short montage of Lara finding her way to the tomb entrance, players take over control. The very first thing that strikes you is just how beautiful the game looks, the detail on Lara and the environment is quite simply breathtaking and the little details like the way she picks up dirt as she explores and clambers around the environment is highly impressive.
It’s clear that Crystal Dynamics have listened to fan feedback from the last game where, as excellent as it was, there wasn’t really much in the way of actual tomb raiding apart from small puzzle tombs scattered around. This demo was heavy on the exploration and puzzles along with the deadly traps that Lara has mere seconds to react to. While playing and exploring I got that same sense of wonderment I used to get from watching Indiana Jones explore crypts and tombs when I was a kid, as Lara finds herself squeezing down dark and claustrophobic tunnels and emerging into stunning long forgotten underground structures.
Much of the puzzle focus during the demo was based around flooding the temple to access higher ground which also gave the chance to show off some beautiful water effects. More important though, there was that old school Tomb Raider excitement of standing in one of these tombs and having to visually take in every corner, wondering where to begin and where to go and the feeling of accomplishment as you start to successfully make your way around and feel like a real explorer and the way that Lara handles makes exploring the tomb an absolute joy.
The demo ended with a highly action packed sequence as Lara detonated the tomb ceiling and had to escape quickly as the place collapsed and flooded around her. It was a tense, exciting and heart pounding sequence as Lara had to make split second decisions and death defying leaps to make her way to safety before emerging on to a cliff face in a scene reminiscent of Temple of Doom. It was an excellent way to end the demo showing that Crystal Dynamics have gotten a nice balance between puzzles and exploration while still being able to deliver an epic set piece in the next scene.
Microsoft exclusivity means that Xbox One owners will get to play Rise of the Tomb Raider first this year while PS4 owners will have to wait a little while longer until late next year but after this short hands on, I think we’re all going to be in for a pretty incredible adventure.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is out for Xbox One on November 10th and for PS4 late 2016.