We were able to spend a good hour with the agile grave robber during an event in London and explored a mysterious Mayan temple, fought firefights with mercenaries of the organization Trinity and triggered the apocalypse during our explorations. In the grand finale of the Origins trilogy, a visibly mature Lara Croft must save all of humanity.
The evolution from an insecure archaeologist girl, plagued by self-doubt and crying cramps, in the quasi-reboot Tomb Raider to the well-known tough grave robber now comes to a successful conclusion in the big finale of the Origins trilogy.
For three years, the developers of Eidos Montréal were in charge of the action adventure and will send Lara to South America starting September 14, 2018, to explore the terrible secrets of the long-forgotten Mayan culture. We were already able to play a one-hour section and get an insight into the game mechanics. And that should seem very familiar to anyone who has played the first two titles on the first jump. But first a few sentences about what you’re dealing with.
The playable demo section takes us to the picturesque Mexican city of Cozumel, where the inhabitants celebrate the Día de Los Muertos, the day of the dead. Lara meets her old buddy Jonah during the festivities, and together they want to find out what the creeps of the secret organization Trinity are up to at an excavation site nearby. It’s not a time for daring stunts yet, so Lara in disguise follows a Dr. Dominguez who leads the excavations.
An atmospheric scene that reminds a bit of the crowd mechanics of Hitman, when Lara moves through the colorful crowds of people, overhears conversations in passing and can also talk to the inhabitants. But the time of peace is quickly over when we realize that the bad guys are on the verge of a remarkable breakthrough and want to steal a valuable artifact from the ruins of a Mayan temple. Of course, we want to anticipate this and get ready for the first climbing tour.
Is Everything the Same?
If you have already felt so importantly comfortable with Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider, it’s easy to get started with acrobatics. Lara jumps, jumps, swims and squeezes through narrow gaps as elegant and agile as in her predecessors. The two climbing axes scramble over dizzying abysses on rock walls and again and again breaking rocks or suddenly appearing animals provide for the small heart dropout in between.
For the first few minutes, it seems that the developers of the good Lara would have allowed mechanical changes in the homeopathic area at most. Yes, now we can still abseil a little bit, if we dangle on the hooks above the ground, during the insoles we can press ourselves close to the thicket and stay longer undiscovered and while diving and swimming Lara is much more flexible. But the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided creators have always relied on the proven motion concept. Why not? That has worked excellently so far. However, according to the developers, some new elements will be added later in the game.
For example, Lara can cover herself with mud and merge with the environment like Arnold Schwarzenegger once did in the film Predator. In general, there are supposed to be significantly more interactions with nature, which prove to be extremely helpful in the struggle for survival in the dangerous jungle environment. Let us be surprised.
Nasty Drops and Crisp Puzzles
What would a Tomb Raider be without raiding Tombs? So inside the Mayan temple, we were allowed to deal extensively with the deadly falling and environmental puzzles in the demo. If Lara is not to land shattered in some abyss or to breathe out the virtual life pierced by arrows, we have to be careful and have a good look around. Traps are often recognizable by taut ropes that are cut through with a knife and thus no longer triggered in the event of an unguarded step. And if we discover an anchorage for our rope arrows, we already know. Aha, something has to be moved here, so that we can work our way up to the top of the temple piece by piece on shaky bells.
Everything, as usual, beautifully stressful staged with abundantly scarcely calculated jumps, suddenly crumbling paths and also sometimes a moray eel appearing shortly before the face, which blocks us with a great dive the way to the save air hole. The tried and tested adventurer’s view ensures that essential objects stand out bright yellow at the touch of a button so that even motion dyslexics don’t get scabies on the joypad. Thus Lara finds not only hints to the puzzles, but also the abundant treasures and collectibles. Of course, purists can do without the free help.
Stealth or Rambo?
After twenty minutes of breakneck climbing, we have almost reached our destination, and only a few heavily armed Trinity henchmen stand between us and unveiling the great mystery. How we proceed to get rid of the mercenaries is up to us. Either we sneak up on the opponents in peace and make bloody with the machete or short ax process or use the cover shooter mechanics and shoot with assault rifle or shotgun around us.
With the second variant, however, we had our problems if there were more than three meanies in the immediate vicinity. They don’t act too intelligent, but they throw hand grenades around and attack us from all sides. The best thing to do is to bottle up opponents in dark corners or use the most used object in action games, the red barrels. A well-aimed shot and already you blow up a whole group into digital nirvana.
What was that About the Apocalypse?
Finally, we reach our destination, ignoring the warning on the wall that tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, and tornadoes threaten us if we rob the place and take an old dagger. We can’t triumph for long, because Dr. Dominguez takes the hard-won relic – Indiana Jones says hello – and then opens up to us that we have just triggered the apocalypse with the raid and that only a great find can still stop the end of the world. Great, do we have to work with the people who have the death of Lara’s father on their conscience and are not afraid of an outrage?
We don’t experience this anymore in the demo, because the beginning of the end approaches with a gigantic tidal wave, which floods the peacefully celebrating little town Cozumel and brings death and ruin. In a last, action-packed scene, Lara is carried away by the floods and has to prove herself as a survivor again, while she has to find a way to the saving mainland between wreckage and floating corpses.
At first glance, the developers of Eidos Montréal do not seem to have deviated too much from the successful Tomb Raider reboot formula. If you like the previous pieces, you’ll immediately feel welcome and can look forward to cinematic action, bloody battles and the usual entertaining climbing and puzzle trips. What it seems like with crafting, what the world will look like when it opens up in the jungle environment later and what other surprises are still waiting, we are curious about that ourselves.
But we did notice one more thing. The options hide the separate set of the difficulty level for the areas of combat, exploration, and puzzles. An exciting innovation, because not everyone likes each of the three fun cornerstones equally. Those who want to sneak and shoot, but are merely desperate at the puzzles or the jump passages, can thus fine-tune and bring the difficulty of the game mechanics into the desired balance.