December 24, 2011, 12:00

2012 Most Anticipated – #2 Tomb Raider

By Dave Irwin, Sub-Editor

Editor’s Note: We’ve reached the runner-up of twenty-five most anticipated games of 2012. After culminating a comprehensive list of the confirmed games for next year, the MediaKick team voted on the games they are most looking forward to for next year, and after processing the results through a methodical algorithm we’re here to bring you the results. Taking a closer look at both what we know so far and why the team are excited for each game, we’ll have an article at midday everyday until Christmas – when we’ll reveal our most anticipated game of 2012. Be sure to check out the previous games so far if you haven’t already – #25, #24, #23, #22, #21, #20, #19, #18, #17, #16, #15, #14, #13, #12, #11, #10. #9, #8, #7, #6, #5#4, #3.

As the belle of the digital world, Lara Croft has garnered a large fan base over the years. Some say it is because of her various virtual assets and that the majority of those who played Tomb Raider games were looking for cheap thrills. Others will argue that her characterisation helped her become popular as she made women in games strong in comparison to those before her. Samus was certainly strong, but she had such heavy armour that it wasn’t noticeable until she took of her helmet. Others such as Princess Peach have been portrayed as the damsel in distress, or as weak in some kind of way. Lara was always the counter-measure for her compatriots, a busty and sexy, yet strong-willed and dominating character. Some would now say the appeal is still only skin deep, but that is until they realise what this younger Lara is trying to do: make Tomb Raider a character driven and more realistic experience.

2012 Most Anticipated – #2 Tomb Raider

Her dramatic return to E3 this year is the only glimpse we’ve really had of Tomb Raider, but what a first impression! We saw her look at the environments and use her survival instinct to try to get past the prospect of certain doom, get away from an assailant, and escape a crumbling cave. Certainly dramatic in a cinematic way, this trailer certainly left MediaKick Editor, David Howard, wanting more.

“Lara Croft looks set to burst back onto the main stage. It looks fantastic, and after probably the best trailer this year, I’m insanely hyped for her return. The demo at E3 was superb, a cinematic experience it seems likely to be – hopefully the golden-standard Uncharted series has rubbed off onto the Tomb Raider reboot.”

For MediaKick contributor Igor, it was the teaser trailer shown just before E3 that made him take notice and alongside the gameplay trailer at E3, the anticipation couldn’t be higher. But he does express that a trailers first impressions could potentially be deceptive.

“With the emergence of Uncharted and Drake as the new iconic treasure hunter, Lara Croft has been left somewhat in the shadows. A terrific teaser trailer depicts what could be an engaging, enticing and thrilling new chapter in the Tomb Raider franchise, one that could see the iconic female protagonist step back into the limelight. It’s always difficult to judge from teaser trailers however, I mean look how Dead Island turned out…”

This grittier Tomb Raider marks a huge departure for the series. Lately, Lara has been off the rails completely for realism. From the fallen angels and alchemy in Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, to fighting demons in the recent co-op smash hit Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, it is easy to see that the supernatural have taken over the series, like a poltergeist possessing someone in a horror film. She very rarely even raided tombs in recent games! This longing for a more realistic archaeological adventure has been delivered in a way by the hugely successful Uncharted series, but as Rob states; it isn’t what we’ve been waiting for!

“We’ve been waiting with bated breath to have a grittier more realistic Tomb Raider and now that time is almost upon us. We’ve had the quips and jabs from Drake, now lets give the limelight back to the rightful owner of the action-adventurer crown, Lara Croft.”

2012 Most Anticipated – #2 Tomb Raider

A more realistic Lara has been longed for by a number of our panel, with Phil sharing how the series took a downhill turn as the series progressed and what this new direction means for him.

“This reboot seems a far-cry from the highly regarded PlayStation 1 games and the somewhat hit and miss nature of some of the PlayStation 2 games, but in a good way. Going back to Lara’s roots in a somewhat more mature setting is certainly an enticing prospect, so let’s hope the heirs to the Tomb Raider throne, Crystal Dynamics, can build something befitting of the series’ legacy, while taking the maturity up a notch.”

Then again, the promise of something more realistic isn’t everything people are expecting from this new game. It signifies the rebirth of the series, both in terms of plot and mechanics. Ryan still believes that the deviation from the supernatural is a good thing, but is also quite excited about how Crystal Dynamics aims to set the series apart from the Naughty Dog developed Uncharted, and indeed Tomb Raider games in the past.

“Tomb Raider has been a massive influence on the gaming industry by bringing in a female lead to a wide audience and, despite being so overly exaggerated that her cars didn’t need airbags, she was still taken fairly seriously. The action-adventure titles created a perfect blend on platforming, gunplay and puzzles that saw Crash Bandicoot developer, Naughty Dog, craft one of the best series this generation in the form of Uncharted. The differences between the two titles was clear, with Uncharted taking a more understated and realistic (barring the supernatural elements) tone while Tomb Raider decided to stick with the exaggerated and less genuine feel. However, things change and the new horror/survival tone coupled with a more natural Lara has meant the Tomb Raider series has never looked better.”

2012 Most Anticipated – #2 Tomb Raider

As for Harry, the titillation of Lara’s physique has never crossed his mind. The excitement of exploring Lara’s origins trumps everything else shown beforehand. By focusing more on the narrative structure and Lara as a character, things look very promising for this new direction.

“What we saw at E3 and the tantalising previews we’ve been offered so far all point towards this Tomb Raider game being a great return to form for the worn franchise. A reboot was always on the cards, but it seems that Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix are heading in the right, albeit different, direction by focusing on the character of Lara Croft and her origins as an intrepid explorer. I know you’re all wanting me to say “next-generation breasts” because I’m a guy and that’s presumably why I want to play this, but I care immensely for great storytelling in my video games and it all seems like this Tomb Raider will offer me that.”

The hype is certainly there with many claiming this could be Lara’s return to the action-adventure throne, taking back the crown from that usurper Nathan Drake. We look forward to hearing more about this game in the coming months, as it is about time that Lara Croft hit the mainstream once more. When you are able to show this to a long time female fan of the series and they say, “I’m interested in playing this”, you know the developers have gone in the right direction. Certainly one to watch!