Square Enix gave us a behind-closed-doors demo of Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot, one that showed off a previously unseen level. The first half of the presentation revolved around the familiar sequence where a young Lara escapes death in a waterlogged cavern -- a scene first described in our Tomb Raider cover story and shown a few days ago at the Microsoft E3 Press Conference.
However, things got interesting in the second half of the demo, when a new level of the game was shown, one that takes place in a mountain village. It provided us with a little more of the game's attempt to develop Lara Croft as a character, and also showcased her legendary platforming abilities.
The sequence starts with Lara stumbling upon Conrad Roth, her mentor of sorts, locked in a battle with a wolf. The deadly lupine eventually retreats, but not before mauling Roth badly. Lara rushes to his aid, helping him walk closer to his base camp and the campfire.
Things are bad. Roth need medical attention and a radio transmitter he left in the wolves' den. Lara is forced into action and begins platforming over the building in the village to reach the opening to the abandoned mine that serves as the den. Overall, the platforming seems easy and fast -- more akin to Assassin's Creed than the laborious platforming of earlier Tomb Raiders. Weather also factors in, making things more difficult; at one point Lara slipped off a rainslicked fuselage of a crashed plane suspended in the mountain.
After Lara makes it to the highly perched mine, she enters the dangerous den. At one point, she's attack by a wolf and is forced to use one of her arrows as a weapon, an encounter that plays out like a brief quick-time event. Finally, she finds the transmitter and the first aid kit. From there, Lara negotiates her way back down the base camp and minister to Roth's wounds. At this point, the presenter stopped to tell us that base camps serve a purpose in the game, as they are points where Lara can buy new skills and upgrades, craft new gear from salvage, and fast travel to other campsites.
Here, we get to see a more emotional side of the game. Roth tells Lara she has to be the one to find and climb the radio tower to install the transistor that might bring them help. As opposed to the quippy Lara of past games, this Lara is unsure of herself and scared but also willing to risk her life to help her mentor. It's a nicely done sequence and helps cast Lara in a more complex light. With this nice end to the demo, I once again came away impressed by Tomb Raider.