The Tomb Raider game series first exploded onto our screens in 1996, with Core Design managing to score an IGN rating of 9.3 for the first of many exploits of the ultimate warrior woman–Lara Croft. Since then, the following five releases of the series have been met with steadily decreasing reception until they really hit rock-bottom with a measly rating of 5.3 for the 2003 release of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. A change was needed…
Crystal Dynamics came on board to develop Tomb Raider: Legend after a drought of 3 years since the last game. With this title they managed to succeed in re-igniting the interest in the Â franchise’s games, with a re-vamped Lara Croft which managed to excite the critics enough to nearly meet the ratings of the original title, with scores of 8.2 from IGN and 7.8 from GameSpot. Something was clearly working for them, which showed in their next two releases: Tomb Raider: Anniversary and Underworld, both surpassing Tomb Raider: Legend’s reception.
They were not finished yet, not even close. On 6 December 2010 it was announced by Square Enix, who had absorbed Edios Interactive into their corporation, therefore becoming publishers, that the game was already two years into production and Studio head Darrell Gallagher told fans they will be shown a “character defining journey like no other”.
The game itself has been designed to be the first in an entirely new line of Tomb Raider games, with no links to any previous games produced under the ‘Tomb Raider’ title. It is set to see the transformation of Lara Croft from an innocent and frightened girl into the hardened woman we all know and love, but this time she’s even more gritty and hardcore.
Her adventures will see her stranded on an island with other survivors after the ship she is traveling on is destroyed by a massive storm, in doing so setting the scene for the ultimate scavenger-come-survivor plot line. Of course, eating furry animals and picking fruit is not what you want to see Lara Croft doing, and for that reason the plot line has kindly included the presence of some violent and driven mercenaries with a soul intention of killing Lara and the other survivors. That’s more like it!
The new release has already managed to draw plenty of controversy to itself, being the first game in the Tomb Raider series that is being said to receive a ‘M’ rating in the United States. Reasons for this could be numerous, the game itself looks much darker and brutal than any of the previous releases. Ron Rosenberg, the game’s Executive Producer, also let slip that Lara Croft is eventually taken prisoner by other scavengers on the island and “they try to rape her, and she’s literally turned into a cornered animal.”, frightening stuff. Their reasoning for including this in the game plays into their original idea of Lara undergoing an evolution throughout the game, and also creating an emotional connection with Lara, “We wanted to draw you in, make you care, put you in Lara’s shoes and have this be an intense moment you were experiencing with Lara, not from an outsider looking in perspective” says Darrel Gallagher.
Despite this potential shock area in the game, it looks set to completely captivate players and provide hours of exciting and realistic game play, and of course; we get to control an extremely… well designed, Lara Croft once more.
The simply titled “Tomb Raider” is set to release on 5 March 2013 on both major console platforms: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, as well as a version playable on Microsoft Windows.