After Crystal Dynamics brandished a more complete version of their Lara Croft reboot, Tomb Raider, at E3 2012 with a trailer and an all-new gameplay presentation, some strong analogies to Naughty Dog’s Uncharted franchise seemed inevitable – invited, almost. One scene encountered by our Tyler Schirado, for example – with Lara attempting to scale up the wreckage of a B-52 bomber as it dangled precariously off a tree limb – felt like a “shot-by-shot recreation” of the opening scene in Uncharted 2.
By the same token, though, the Uncharted series has drawn heavily from Tomb Raider; it likely owes its conception to the years an older, more buxom Lara Croft spent shooting up old archaeological ruins, battling rival outfits for treasure, and uncovering the mysteries of her family’s past.
So just where do these two sides diverge, as history has often set them in the direction of one another? Darrell Gallagher, studio head at Crystal Dynamics, spoke in an internal Square Enix interview during E3 about the unique feel the developer is lending to Tomb Raider when it releases this March. The interview was recently spotted by Siloconera, and in it Gallagher surmises that – despite the intrinsic similarities two action-adventure/treasure hunting games are bound to share – it’s the little things that stack up in the end for Tomb Raider to stand out:
“I guess the comparison I can make is, you can have two summer blockbusters, and they can be big action things, with two different actors and things like tone and mood and story separate the two very differently. So, our tone is very different. Our storyline, our narrative. Our lead character is very different.
“And deeper than that, in terms of the gameplay, we have a resourcefulness to Lara, right, that you start seeing in some of the demos we’ve given, which I think is again a different thing to Uncharted. Also, our game structure. I think we have some wider areas. I think our hubs, which we’ve not necessarily shown yet. I think they’re a really big differentiator. Our ability to re-traverse. The ability system on the island. Hunting. The ability to go and take deer and other animals on the island.
“I think there’s a lot of small differences that actually make the two products sort of stand apart when you actually experience them in full.
The Tomb Raider timeline is saturated with instances where the series has received overhauls from developers Core Design (who handled the game between 1996 and 2003) and Crystal Dynamics (who started their Tomb Raider run in 2006 with a trilogy: Legend, Anniversary, and Underworld). Whether or not 2013’s reboot will be a case of conformity to the influence of Nathan Drake remains to be seen. But some of the very elements Gallagher hinted at – the deep, resourceful gameplay; Lara’s raw character and struggle for survival – were some of the highlights of our hands-on preivew, and enough to earn the game a GR nomination for best Action/Adventure title of E3.
Ranters, do see the upcoming Tomb Raider as a fresh, original take on the action/adventure genre? Or is the Crystal Dynamics reboot an apple that fell just below Uncharted’s tree – which grew from seeds cast through wind dispersal by the flowered fruits of Lara Croft’s early adventures?
Tomb Raider is slated to release on March 5, 2013 for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
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