Now, in 2012, the ninth game in the series is getting a complete revamp. Simply titled Tomb Raider, the game will follow 21 year old Lara Croft as she travels aboard the Endurance, a salvage ship destined for Japan. However, nothing is plain sailing (excuse the pun) for Lara, as the Endurance is hit by an unexpected storm halfway through the voyage. Shipwrecked, injured and alone, Lara must now overcome serious obstacles and danger whilst frantically searching for a way off of the island.
In game hints and automatic weapon targeting has been kept to a minimum in this release, to keep this game challenging. To add to the challenging aspect, puzzles are supposed to be much trickier to solve this time around, and jumps to ledges or other parts of map have been made harder, as the landscape has a tendency to crumble if you have been dangling or standing on it for too long. The game introduces a new "survival instinct", which will help players solve these puzzles with subtle hints if they require them though, so perhaps it is not as difficult as it was first made out to be.
What intrigues me the most about Tomb Raider is the element of adapting to the island. Lara starts off the game with nothing to defend herself. However, whilst progressing through the island, Lara can pick up objects to combine and create her own weapons. Another aspect that I am intrigued about is the idea of exploring the island freely. This loose sand-box element completely changes the formulaic structure of the previous games in the franchise, and the idea of exploration in games has always been something that has captivated me (this is probably due to my love of RPGs).
Immediately from the demo and details currently available, it appears that the confident, hardy and gymnastic Lara we have grown accustomed to over the past 15 years has gone. In her place is a much more vulnerable and real character. This time around, the game play will focus on surviving the horrors that await on the island. The demo unveiled at E3 gave this outing an almost survival horror feel, but the action adventure and puzzle aspect that so many Tomb Raider fans know and love are thankfully still present.
The previous games in this franchise are definitely worth playing, especially if you enjoy the puzzle platformer genre. Steam users will be thankful of the Tomb Raider Summer Sale over on the Steam store from today. This sale includes 75% off Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Tomb Raider: Underworld, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, and Tomb Raider: Legend.
If you were only to download one from this sale, I would strongly suggest Tomb Raider: Anniversary. It is a revamped edition of the original Tomb Raider, and will allow you to get acquainted with the series before playing the new game.
Tomb Raider will be released in Autumn 2012 for Microsoft Windows games, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.