Tomb Raider is an action-adventure game developed by Crystal Dynamics. It is a full reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise, depicting a young Lara, age twenty-one, during her first adventure. The game is being developed by 80% of the team that worked on previous Lara Croft games and features a brand new engine dubbed the Crystal Engine. Development on the game was pushed after Crystal Dynamics received a directive from Square Enix President Yoichi Wada to make the best game that they could possibly make.
Tomb Raider's development was first announced by publisher Square Enix on December 6, 2010. After being pushed back from it's original fall 2012 window, the game is now scheduled for release on March 5, 2013.
The game's story, written by critically acclaimed writer Rhianna Pratchett, tells the tale of a young and unexperienced Lara Croft's first adventure. When traveling on the ship Endurance towards an island off the coast of Japan, determined to make a name for herself in the world, a violent storm destroys the ship and washes Lara ashore on a beach of an unknown island. Alone, frightened and injured, she has to learn to survive and steel herself in order to face the perils that await her.
The game focuses on Lara's character arc from inexperienced adventurer to veteran explorer. The developers want the player to feel for Lara, and with that in mind, redesigned her to give her a more realistic appearance. She also no longer knows gymnastics and maneuvers through the environments with less confidence. Lara occasionally describes the events occurring around her out loud as she perceives them, highlighting her fears.
Tomb Raider is the first game in the series that is expected to receive an M rating from the ESRB. This is due to excessive blood (Lara often has to heal herself by manually putting bones back in place) but also due to the fact that Lara can die in brutal ways. As one such example, her leg can become trapped underneath a boulder before another one crushes her head.
Lara is not alone on the island. Over the course of her adventure, she will have to contend with both the indigenous population, which enjoys torturing and hanging people upside down to have them burn to death, she will also have to contend with modern thugs armed with guns and other weapons.
Like its precursors, the new Tomb Raider involves a mix of puzzle solving, platforming and combat in an open world environment. Lara has a reduced set of skills compared to other games in the series. She no longer has her double pistols or her gymnastics abilities, meaning that somersaults over rocks or diving in slow motion while maintaining pin point accuracy with a gun is out of the question. A large chunk of the combat is done via quick-time events. There is said to be a larger emphasis on combat, so instead of using a lock-on aiming system like in the previous games, there is a free aim mechanic. The game is also based around survival, meaning that Lara will have to find food and water while making spears to defend herself.
Despite this downgrade in skills, Lara still has one or two tricks up her sleeve. The player can now change the direction in which Lara jumps at the last second (even while she is jumping) and can also do what the developers call a "Wall Scramble" which lets her climb higher.
Lara can use Instinct (similar to Detective Vision in Batman Arkham Asylum) that points out which way she should be going and what objects she needs to interact with. Base Camps allow Lara to fast travel across the island, much like Red Dead Redemption. At these base camps the player can create items by combining them according to Lara's skill set. This means the player could be leveling up Lara in basic survival skills. While solving puzzles, Lara will now have to take into account the elements such as fire, water, wind and friction, thus making the puzzles more complex than in previous games.
After some questions on Twitter it has been revealed that there will be no swimming phases involved and that despite the emphasis on the survival aspect of the game there will be an auto regeneration of the player health.
In an interview with Kotaku in June 2012 it was mentioned that at one point in the story Laura is captured by a would be rapist. After meeting with a degree of controversy in the media over what was considered sexist imagry, it was later clarified that the scene in question is far tamer than what was initially reported with Laura's captors motives largely left ambiguous