Few video game characters have lead the life that Lara Croft has. Created back in 1996 by Core Design, the game’s main series now boasts at least 16 different incarnations and the Tomb Raider brand has gone on to become one of the highest grossing video game franchises in history. It's also spawned, comic books, novels, an animated series, an energy drink sponsorship, and several amusement park rides. Croft has also more than earned her Guinness Book of World Records nod as the world’s most successful human virtual game heroine.
Given all that Croft has been through over the years, it was a good call on the part of developers Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix to recognise the need for an origin story - which they provided with Tomb Raider in 2013. The next instalment in the series is Rise of the Tomb Raider - and judging by what’s on display in the launch trailer, Lara Croft’s brand of archaeology will continue to be of the life and limb variety (rather than the kind that involves risking ibrary fines and paper cuts).
In Rise of the Tomb Raider, Croft sets off on a quest to discover the secret of immortality – a plot which you’ll be forgiven for thinking sounds a lot like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Her adventure takes her to the frozen wastelands of Siberia, where she must fight in order to stay one step ahead of the evil Trinity organisation.
If you recognise the voice from the original song “I Shall Rise” featured in the latest Rise of the Tomb Raider trailer (see above), it’s because it belongs to Yeah Yeah Yeah’s frontwoman Karen O. This is the first time she’s written a song for a video game, although she did receive an Oscar nod in 2014 for ‘Moon Song’ - one of the tracks featured in Spike Jonze’s Oscar-winning film, Her.
There's a fair amount of story to cover in Rise of the Tomb Raider, which translates to heaps of gaming time for those of you willing to put in the effort. If played straight forward, gamers can expect roughly 15-20 hours of solid play. However, according to Crystal Dynamics lead designer Mike Brinker, that time frame could easily be extended.
Here's what Brinker had to say on the subject, per Gamesradar:
"In terms of scale, all our hub spaces, the areas that allow you to explore and choose your own way to play, have been increased by three times the size. We have more challenge tombs, crypts, caves, and a bunch of extra things to do like the side missions for the Remnant people, and the tomb guardians."
The game certainly looks beautiful – deep, lush environments paired with frozen and treacherous mountain ranges will definitely help bring in gamers who might not be familiar with the series. If there is a single gripe to be made about what’s on display here, it’s that the actual gameplay action in Rise of the Tomb Raider seems rather minimal. Hopefully that’s indicative of having so much to showcase that the trailer only squeezed in what it could, and not evidence of the game being a pretty, yet time consuming snooze-fest.
Rise of the Tomb Raider gets an exclusive Xbox One and Xbox 360 release on November 10th, 2015. Expect a PC and PS4 release in 2016.