Sunday, June 21, 2015

Siberian wilderness gameplay makes Rise of the Tomb Raider way more interesting.

I mean, I was already interested, but just... well, check it out.  Here's a lossless version.

The first thing that stands out is not a positive.  Lara's facial animations are still not up to spec - but by "spec," I mean Naughty Dog/Sucker Punch standards, which no one else in the industry has really accomplished - so, forgiveable.

The second is the snow.  I'm of two minds on the snow.  First of all, they got the "glitter" of snow right - that is, snow at night (and often during the day) will constantly reflect tiny pinpricks of light in random places, as your eyes line up just perfectly with the random little prisms of ice.  The Last of Us and Uncharted did it right, and so does Rise of the Tomb Raider.

On the other hand, the snow effects when she walks through it?  Hideous.  Naughty Dog pulled off way better snow six years and one generation ago in Uncharted 2.

The rest?  The rest is hype - not the least of which being that they seem to have lifted The Last of Us's crafting mechanics.

At 04:45, Lara crafts herself a bow and we're treated to some lovely customization and crafting menus.  She's got a new toy in the form of the poison arrow, which releases a cloud of noxious fumes.

At 06:25 the next cutscene ends, and now it's time for some Lara + bow = awesome action, but there are some cool additions to her toolkit.

  • Lara can leap from trees directly on to her opponent, knocking them down and leaving them staggered and open for a one-hit kill (the 'ol rock to the face). 
  • Now that she's unlocked the poison arrow, she can craft them on-the-fly, a'la The Last of Us.
  • At 07:20, she notices a few enemies ahead.  She immediately leaps at a tree truck and wall-kicks off that to reach a higher branch.  
  • Then she leaps to another branch to pole-swing to a vantage just above her targets.  There were similar treetop opportunities in Tomb Raider, but this feels a bit richer. 
  • At 07:37 a single poison arrow between the two gentlemen KOs them both with its area of effect. 
  • At 08:33 she picks up the radio of a dispatched enemy and tosses it behind a pair nearby.  The static hisses up, distracting them. 
  • At 08:48 she picks up a jerry can of gasoline and, again without leaving the game world, crafts it into a jerry-can-molotov cocktail, which eliminates all other enemies. 
  • Then she hits a bear in the face.
  • She picks up some leaves off a bush, and at 11:25, she picks up some cloth to craft it into a bandage. 
  • Then she kills a bear.
I had kind of anticipated that, with Rise of the Tomb Raider, Crystal Dynamics would be upping their presentation game to a point that, at the very least, nipped at the heels of Naughty Dog.  I'm a bit disappointed that they haven't - but the gameplay additions definitely add a few more levels of hype. 


  1. If they can resist the Tunguska blast and generally crystal skulling the story I'll be real happy.

    1. I will be really surprised if they pull a crystal skull - I think the world is unanimous in agreeing that it was abhorrent. Plus the Tunguska thing was like 1910 - wayyy to recent to be worthy of a Tomb Raider plot.

  2. Damnit I wrote "to" instead of "too." I hate that. It's up there with mixing up "it's" and "its." >.<