E3 2008: Tomb Raider: Underworld
First of all, what's amazing to acknowledge is just how much different the game looks from the first set of pictures we posted way back in 2007, to now. The game looks beautiful, we started the demo off on Lara's boat in the middle of an ocean. There is water all around you as far as the eye can see, and that water looks absolutely gorgeous. Swimming, thanks to a variety of new technologies Lara has, isn't limited to air, so you can swim around as long as you want.
We dove into the water and were then shown our arsenal of toys. We spotted a shark, and fired a spear at it with our speargun. Awesome. Another shark came about, and our guide showed us how to make "instant sushi" out of it. We selected the sticky grenade, waited for the shark to come by, and stuck it on the polygonal beast. Seconds later, all we saw was chunks of shark meat. Shame your's truly is allergic to seafood.
We continued to swim down hundreds of feet, at very pleasant speed, until we reached the wreckage, and so began our first puzzle. We had to swim around the wreckage area and find two pieces that'll allow us to progress. During this presentation, Eidos showed off a near little feature called the "ping-map" which will help the gamer see paths that may be covered by plant-life, etc.
Once we moved on to another stage, one where Lara was running around dry in a classic and proper Tomb Raider environment, we were told that Lara Croft's animations utilize motion capturing. Lara's strands are a flawless mixture of hand-made animations, in addition to the all new motion-captured ones. And the best part is you can't tell where the transition between each strand occurs, thanks to a bit of technology Crystal Dynamics uses that seamlessly blends it all in.
Visually, the location we were in was classic Tomb Raider, with fantastic lighting cues, a very worn and torn look, a brown-ish setting, and an overall feel that is unmistakably Tomb Raider. All of it felt so true to the original two games that it sparked the anticipation bug. We want this game. One cool visual touch was how dirty Lara would get as she made her way around the stage, but the cool part was how it washed away if you jumped into some water.
We should also mention that the HUD is completely clear when playing the game, and it'll only pop-up whenever you want it to briefly. You can now grapple onto walls, as well, allowing Lara to raid in an all new way. Crystal Dynamics is putting together a very impressive Tomb Raider game, one that is much overdue.
Related Game(s): Tomb Raider: Underworld
7/25/2008 Arnold Katayev