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On Tomb Raider and appealing to the Uncharted crowd

Tuesday, 26th February 2013 12:59 GMT By Johnny Cullen

Comparisons between Uncharted and Tomb Raider shouldn’t put you off the anticipated Crystal Dynamics reboot, says Johnny Cullen. Similarities are there, but Lara’s revamp stands alone.

By revamping the series, Crystal Dynamics has made Tomb Raider viable to the Uncharted audience.

Next week, Crystal Dynamics, the custodian of Lara Croft since 2006, will release its anticipated reboot of Tomb Raider. The game has been compared to Uncharted since the first gameplay was shown at E3 nearly two years ago. Similarities have been noted before. When Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune first released in 2007, comparisons were made to the older versions of Lara’s adventures.

It’s obvious the new Tomb Raider has been inspired by Naughty Dog’s work with Nathan Drake, but that doesn’t hinder it. If anything, it works in Crystal Dynamics’ favour.

For example, Tomb Raider’s combat is a key inspiration from Uncharted. Fighting can get frantic, close and personal (though it does take three or four shotgun shots sometimes rather than one or two to take an enemy down) while a stealthy approach is utterly satisfying. Tomb Raider’s stealth aspect is something I consider to be better than the Naughty Dog version. There’s a forest section halfway through the game in which you need to take out a group of enemies. When stealthily murdering from behind or with Lara’s signature bow from afar, there’s something giddy about it.

Uncharted has a basic slump and die if you succumb in battle, slip up on any of Tomb Raider’s big bits and Lara can die in very gruesome and gory ways (like to see her head pierced by a tree branch during the parachute bit? Thought not).

Traversing the environment draws from Uncharted to an extent, with colour-highlighted pillars telling you where to climb. But Tomb Raider builds upon the concept by adding various ways to let you get from A to B rather than the climbclimbclimb of Uncharted, allowing you to shoot a hook onto a catchable surface to zipline down the bottom or use the climbing axe as an aid.

The one thing Uncharted and Tomb Raider are matched at is big action set-pieces. Crystal Dynamics has a heap of them throughout, from the first playable section to the last.

New map

I didn’t play the majority of the PSone Tomb Raider games, and even playing Anniversary or the post-Uncharted 2 Underworld didn’t exactly make me click with the series. But there’s plenty in the reboot for fans who’ve been around since the beginning. You can still explore tombs as an optional side (I only entered one or two due to wanting to stick to the story), and there are still puzzles in both the crypts and main game.

By revamping the series, Crystal Dynamics has made Tomb Raider viable to the Uncharted audience. I’m in love with Uncharted and Naughty Dog in the creepiest way possible, and Lara Croft’s origin story caters to the Drake fanboy in me.

But while the comparisons are easy, Uncharted was all about a big payday. Tomb Raider – which could only have been written by Rhianna Pratchett – was about building a character from vulnerability to strength out of the bleakest of situations. Crystal Dynamics succeeds in taking one of gaming’s most successful franchises back to roots it never knew it had.

A solid foundation has been set from the next phase of the Tomb Raider series. Whether it’ll revert to retellings of old installments or continue with the origin thread is unknown, but it’s unlikely Crystal Dynamics will need to look in Naughty Dog’s direction again.

Tomb Raider releases on March 5 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Read Dave’s opinion on the final code and check-out all the review scores.

Disclosure: This opinion is based on a final Xbox 360 retail copy of Tomb Raider, provided by Square Enix.

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18 Comments

  1. salarta

    “Back to roots it never knew it had” typically means it never had those “roots” to begin with when it’s on the popularity scale of Tomb Raider.

    I understand that people of the current generation want to completely redefine Lara into a completely different character, but let’s not take the whole redefine thing so far that we go back and try to make the original Lara into something she wasn’t.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. manamana

    Great article, Johnny! Can’t wait to get my hands on.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. DSB

    Good stuff. So about the shotgun bit, are you saying that the enemies are bulletsponges or that the weapons are tricky?

    I fricken hate bulletsponges, it’s the laziest possible thing you can ever add to a game.

    You’re not actually challenging anyone, you’re just adding hitpoints to something and giving it a better weapon, so killing it becomes a drag.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Samoan Spider

    Yeah, I hate that bulletsponge suggestion. They talk about immersion, realism and attention to detail, and then they go and make the enemies into unnatural supersoldiers. But still, comparisons are inevitable but I’m looking forward to playing this. I enjoyed Uncharted before this and I enjoyed the multitude of Tomb Raider games before that.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. ps3fanboy

    the dlc they are gonna release for this game they can release with the game free or they can wipe their ass with it… the ps4 coming next year, it have no ps3 bc for the game or the ps3 psn. all dlc released from now is a waste of money…

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Dragon246

    I really laugh at morons when they berate games for “OH ITZ COPIZ THAT”, and not treat it on its own merits.
    Here is a fact, humans have always copied good things, because they deserve to be copied. In games, I have absolutely no problem with “coping” (better word is inspired imo), unless it iterates on the original idea and/or expand its audience. TR succeeds on both accounts.

    Btw, really liked TR-Anniversary, although I still have my reservations on rebooting, I hate them. Life doesn’t reboot.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. DSB

    @6 Sure, but if you copy something, you can either come out in front, or behind.

    It’s basically the difference between Darksiders and Darksiders 2. The original feels like a clinical, uninspired patchwork of shit you’ve already done, in mostly exactly the same way, in other games, only with a bit of lava there, and a bit of ghost fog here, and a space marine who’s not a space marine.

    The second one actually takes those mechanics and hones them, applying them in a way that’s rewarding, and wrapping it in a bunch of settings that are actually somewhat impressive.

    Everything isn’t equally good. If you’re getting your ideas elsewhere, you should at least know to apply them properly.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. manamana

    @7 wise words, chapeau!

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Dragon246

    @7,
    Its subjective obviously. I can agree if someone downs a game for using same repetitive or uninspired or so on language. But just saying “ITZ A COPY OF X SO I HATE IT” is pure fanboyism.
    That is just a moot argument. You don’t need to look much far to see the examples.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. FinalStar

    I certainly agree the game is very good (finished it for a review over the week-end), but praising Rhianna Pratchett for the story and characterization of Lara, well… why?

    The plot is pretty average fare and only excells in signposting most of the major developments from miles away. And Lara constantly and abruptly switching between Bambi and Rambo never rings quite true. It’s probably not all the writer’s fault, but I fail to see why supposedly only her could have written this – because she’s a woman?

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Sini

    Uncharted sucked ass. Boring merc fights that overstayed their welcome, no thought platforming done simply to show off how well a wall texture can look when taking up the screen, and let’s not forget “puzzles” that are stupidly simplistic and there simply to break up the boring mercenary fights. Nothing more than PR bullshit and tards ate it up without looking objectively at the games(turd looked good though, I do give em crazy production values).

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Jerykk

    “I didn’t play the majority of the PSone Tomb Raider games, and even playing Anniversary or the post-Uncharted 2 Underworld didn’t exactly make me click with the series.”

    I’d love to see a TR fan’s review of the game. It seems like everyone who has reviewed it so far was never a fan of the series to begin with and thus never really cared about skill-based platforming and puzzles. The fact that the writer of this article skipped past the tombs (which really should be the focus of the game instead of killing hundreds of dudes) is quite telling.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Johnny Cullen

    @DSB – Yeah. For me it took something like two or three shots. Sometimes I was aiming for the head with it and that should be a one-shot kill (I’m not saying it should pop the head as a typical shotgun shot should do, but good god, how could you take one shotgun blast and still be standing? :S)

    But I’m willing to look the other way on it because otherwise, it really is a brilliant action game.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Da Man

    Uncharted sucked ass.
    Word.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Espers

    @1 Bravo !!

    I miss the big boobs though

    @6 Good entry, I kinda liked anniversary as an idea and graphics but hated the stupid deaths !! which plagued all of the tomb raider games and took em to failure. I can’t judge the reboot until I play it.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. reask

    Good to see you back writing for vg247 JC.

    IMO if it does a uncharted 2 type job I will be happy enough.
    uc 3 dissapointed me personally but 1 and 2 were great so if its a bit like them I am happy enough tbh.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. DaveDogg

    I’ve wondered all along how this can be a “Tomb Raider” and after reading nearly every review I’m still wondering because by the sound of it one thing you don’t do very much of is raiding tombs. Oh and the first game was a timed exclusive on the Sega Saturn. what do I want from a Tomb Raider game I want elegant platforming & levels built around intelligently constructed puzzles and a bit of mystery and imagination to the story unfortunately it seems this does neither of these so in the words of Duncan Bannatyne “I’m Out”

    #17 2 years ago
  18. TommiK

    “or the post-Uncharted 2 Underworld”

    Underworld was released in 2008, so pre-Uncharted 2.

    #18 2 years ago

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