As we inch closer and closer to Lara Croft’s coming out party with the release of Tomb Raider in 2013, the developers are starting to give a more complete idea of what kind of gameplay awaits players. At PAX Prime 2012 this week, Crystal Dynamics showed off an extended section of gameplay that had previously only been visible behind closed doors.

A blend of story, cinematics, traversal, and hunting of wild animals is the content of the walkthrough, providing varying insights into the larger game. There are few surprises, since the demo was covered after Comic-Con, but actual footage speaks volumes.

It truly is difficult to judge just how Tomb Raider will be received, since the gameplay featured (courtesy of GamesRadar) seems to be both embracing what made previous titles so beloved in the eyes of fans, while also taking strong influence from modern franchises. The similarities to Uncharted have been cited from day one, but at this point most games have taken bits and pieces of that formula and made them very much their own, so there’s no reason to think that Crystal Dynamics can’t do the same.

The section of gameplay being demonstrated presumably takes place shortly after the extended E3 trailer, judging by the amount of damage and filth Lara seems to have accrued. If one thing’s clear it’s that the developers are so far showing only the extremely early stages of the game, which may be wise in the long run, but will be difficult to maintain for long.

Tomb Raider Walkthrough Hunting

What’s been shown to date is extremely linear (given the tutorial nature, that’s to be expected) and directed, which in itself is not a problem. But with the developers boasting “organic, natural and diverse gameplay,” it won’t be long before fans start asking for video footage of that type of gameplay, as opposed to the first few missions. We’re not meaning to be negative, but in the days of Skyrim and Red Dead Redemption, claiming to have animals in your game brings some serious expectations.

What stands out in the gameplay is the portion of traversal challenging Lara to climb across a derelict airplane, mainly for its ability to show how Tomb Raider will be similar to Uncharted, and how it will not be. While the traversal is done well, and looks beautiful in action, it’s worth asking if simply climbing across an object in a prescribed path is what gamers are satisfied with these days.

Uncharted threw explosions, environmental hazards, and grand, cinematic twists that made even straightforward traversal appear to have depth, so hopefully Tomb Raider will as well. Crystal Dynamics has certainly found an actress capable of – and extremely devoted to – breathing a new type of personality into Lara Croft. Hopefully the larger gameplay will impress just as much.

Tomb Raider releases March 5, 2013, for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

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