Leaving Lara

My first true love was Lara. I’ve been playing videogames since I was a little girl but I only truly fell in love with the medium when I met Miss Croft. It’s not the character herself, really, it was the exploration of ancient tombs and ruins in beautiful distant lands. Adventuring and exploring are still the things I love most about gaming. I’m not so interested in combat, highscores or even complex stories that challenge your ethics and way of thinking. I just want to explore lovely places and find all the nooks and crannies, treasure chests and sparkly secrets. The other element that really captured my heart about the Tomb Raider games was the sense of isolation; a lone woman dwarfed by a vast, still and silent place, frozen in time.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light has me worried. I mean, I’m not complaining. I’m glad to see the franchise diversifying and fighting to survive in an industry where smaller, more quickly developed games are thriving in the downloadable market. That’s all great, and if that’s the way it has to be then fair enough, but the features of Guardian of Light are co-op play with Lara being joined by another character, Totec, a Mayan tribesman and fast combat, where enemies drop gems that can be collected to gain points for your highscore. My concern isn’t that my beloved game is going to have gameplay that doesn’t focus on exploration, it’s that Tomb Raider was the definition of exploratory gameplay. If that has to change for the franchise to survive does that mean that exploration in general is a gameplay concept that doesn’t sell anymore?

Will exploration of big environments go the way of blue skies and cartoon animal partnerships? We remember fondly the lonely landscapes of Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and Beyond Good and Evil but where are they now? Nathan Drake was still flying the flag last year, but that isolation and vastness was replaced by smart-mouthed team ups and online competitive multiplayer. Even Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood will introduce eight player multiplayer and the use of a cannon – not exactly the lone master of the silent blade we’ve come to know. If it is the end of Lara’s lone journeys into unknown lands I’ll be very sad. Only one man will be able to comfort me. I’ll ride off into the sunset with Red Dead Redemption’s John Marston, watching the sun set on another gaming era.







6 responses to “Leaving Lara”

  1. Zoey avatar

    I am praying that this will be good. If it can be pulled off successfully then I guess it’s just more Lara for us (yay!) but I guess all hardcore fans are on tenterhooks!

  2. Duncan avatar

    Adding a sidekick in games are quickly starting to mirror time travel in movies – the sign that the creators are running out of ideas.

    Which is a shame, because Tomb Raider (the games, not the movies) are definitely nowhere near dead yet. ๐Ÿ™

    I have high hopes for this mini XBLA romp though, it could be excellent, here’s hoping that it pays off. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Markatansky avatar

    I’ll probably give it a go because the location and the isometric camera angle reminds me very much of Diablo 2. If anyone’s up for some co-op, I got dibs on Totec the totally not-a-Druid-from-Diablo-2. ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Mark avatar

    I absolutely love Tomb Raider, and consider the neo-Tomb Raider series as one of the best franchises in a long time. That being said, this looks like it has nothing to do with raiding Tombs with pole swinging and perilous jumps – might as well be called Tara Boft for all I care. Pass!

  5. Michael avatar

    “Will exploration of big environments go the way of blue skies and cartoon animal partnerships?”

    I take it Fallout 3 doesn’t count then?

  6. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I’m seeing this as Square’s influence as it’s the first Tomb Raider game since they bought Eidos. Something a little different. I’ve also heard Crystal Dynamics are planning another game for Christmas 2011, hopefully they’ve taken note of the Uncharted games as well.

    I would also love it if they re-made Angel Of Darkness so I could actually play that game.

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