Kotaku

The m.o. of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals complaining about video games is by now completely transparent. They've had problems with everything from Pokémon to Mario's Tanooki suit, and little of it has anything to do with the harmful depiction of animals in a video game, or the corrosive attitudes that may spread. It's a cynical publicity grab, because video games are a subject that carry a lot of Google juice, and objecting to them is a cheap way for PETA to make its advocacy seem more involved and relevant than it really is.


When the curtain lifted on Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, a series with plenty of mainstream recognition, PETA moaned about the inclusion of whaling in a nautical-themed game set in the 1700s. It's a silly complaint. Yes, whaling is violent, bloody, and inhumane, and whales suffer an agonizing death from it. The same can be said of murder, which one does throughout the Assassin's Creed series. Whether either are being glamorized is in the eye of the beholder. To me, the idea whaling is given some special status or modern-day advocacy by its appearance in a piece of historical fiction, even if it's a video game, is absurd.


Sure, we can talk about films like The Godfather, with its infamous horse-head-in-the-bed scene, or even something like True Grit, which shows a horse being ridden to its death, literally, and wonder why PETA doesn't raise a stink about that. What underlines PETA's moral opportunism is their selective targeting within games. You kill and skin the hell out of a lot of animals in Red Dead Redemption and Far Cry 3, and in Assassin's Creed III, quite casually, I might add. But it's the big W-word, whaling, in a title with this kind of mainstream awareness, that gets PETA in high enough dudgeon that when it butts in, that's newsworthy, and so is a publisher's response. Please.


Where, I wonder, is PETA on the subject of Tomb Raider—a name at least as big as Assassin's Creed, with a series of films to back it up, too. Watch the video above. That deer meets an end just as bloody and painful. And it's as visceral and intimate a depiction of killing an animal as I've ever seen in a game, and not just because Lara Croft expresses her regret. I can smell the gamy melange of fear and blood and deer musk and wonder how I'd summon the willpower to end that poor animal's life, even if I was starving.


There's a lot to think about there, including the idea that a depiction of cruelty to animals, like whaling, may actually raise such horrible and uncomfortable feelings as to change attitudes, about hunting, or eating meat, or what it really means to consume another living thing.


But I don't think PETA's really interested in that. It just wants its name out there.


Kotaku

Watch Us Play the New Tomb Raider. Right Now. [UPDATE: stream over] Ever wanted to see how Kotaku plays games? Well, now you can. We've set up a special channel on Twitch, where we plan to stream games for your amusement.



We decided to start with Tomb Raider. Because it's out today. So let's listen to Kotaku editor Chris Person show you around the game. Enjoy!


Kotaku

Check out the handiwork of Josh Summana, the guy behind this very cool time lapse of a Tomb Raider digital painting. Naturally, he includes the grime and the cuts Lara suffers in her newest game. Gotta show us that grit.


It's difficult to watch paintings like this one and not feel awed by how much attention to detail is involved in making works of art, eh?


Pixel Vision #07 - Tomb Raider Contest (Time Lapse) [8bitEGO]


Kotaku

Tomb Raider's Film Reboot Will Mirror the New Game, Studio SaysTomb Raider's reboot as a video game seems to have worked out well, so Crystal Dynamics is comfortable talking about their reboot plans for the film, too.


Speaking to Variety, Darrell Gallagher said his studio is working with GK Films, producers of "Rango" and "The Departed." Gallagher's remarks stress that whatever the next Tomb Raider film is, it'll be consistent with the tone of the game releasing today. "We didn't want to see a film version that was a continuation of the old ‘Tomb Raider' films," he said. "They are working from this new take that we've given them."


A rebooted "Tomb Raider" movie, departing from the voluptuous Angelina Jolie portrayal of Lara Croft to a steelier, yet vulnerable adventurer, has been talked about before. ComingSoon.net discussed the project with Graham King (he runs GK Films) back in 2011.


‘Tomb Raider' Reboot Intros Younger Lara Croft [Variety via ComingSoon.net]


Kotaku

The Tomb Raider Reboot Was Going To Be A Lot More Like Shadow of the ColoussusPlenty of game developers profess their love for Team Ico's beautiful PlayStation 2 games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. But few of them have made games that bear the traits of those quiet, lovely adventures.


The folks behind the new Tomb Raider tried to do that. And then shifted course. That's revealed in a new making-of app that is out today on the eve of a long-awaited reboot of the adventures of Lara Croft.


The new iPad and Steam app that chronicles this is called The Final Hours of Tomb Raider and was crafted by a team led by friend-of-Kotaku and GTTV host Geoff Keighley. (The app was made with the cooperation of the game's publisher and is being bundled with special editions of the game.) In the main magazine-style article that forms the spine of The Final Hours, Keighley reveals the surprisingly difficult time the development studio Crystal Dynamics had restarting the Tomb Raider series.


As Keighley puts it, this reboot was itself rebooted. Some of the earliest ideas for Lara Croft's return were the wildest and riffed heavily on those quiet, majestic Team Ico PS2 arthouse classics.


The Tomb Raider Reboot Was Going To Be A Lot More Like Shadow of the Coloussus"In early design meetings he steam started thinking about other games that could inspire a new approach," Keighley writes. "The emotionally rich role-playing game Ico, the survival horror of Resident Evil, and the towering mythical creatures of Shadows [sic] of the Colossus all served as early inspiration."


In the app, Keighley shows off a bounty of sketches and video prototypes of these earlier reboot concepts (We're showing just three glimpses of that material in this article). You can see Lara, on horseback, flee a giant. You can see her leaping a chasm with a child on her back, a child that was going to be an emotionally-sympathetic helper. This two-character design was a callback to the sweet co-operative duo of Yorda and Ico in the game bearing the latter's name. Lara's child helper was later pitched as a monkey but then scrapped.


All this rebooting took several years. Keighley explains how the team at Crystal Dynamics tested a horror concept, something that leaked four years ago. Focus groups thought the horror angle was a stretch.


Tomb Raider's developers eventually settled on the game that officially comes out tomorrow. Not a Shadow of the Colossus riff. Not a horror game. But a game of a young woman surviving on an island full of bad guys, a journey from regular girl to hero.


This new game appears to be very good.


But the one that Keighley shows glimpses of...


The Tomb Raider Reboot Was Going To Be A Lot More Like Shadow of the Coloussus


...that would have been something else!


I've read through The Final Hours and recommend it. It's stuffed with interviews and more exclusive visuals like this. It's a superb behind-the-scenes look. You can get it on iTunes for $2.99 at this link. It's coming to Steam in the next day or too as well.


Kotaku

The Tomb Raider Reboot Was Going To Be A Lot More Like Shadow of the ColossusPlenty of game developers profess their love for Team Ico's beautiful PlayStation 2 games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. But few of them have made games that bear the traits of those quiet, lovely adventures.


The folks behind the new Tomb Raider tried to do that. And then shifted course. That's revealed in a new making-of app that is out today on the eve of a long-awaited reboot of the adventures of Lara Croft.


The new iPad and Steam app that chronicles this is called The Final Hours of Tomb Raider and was crafted by a team led by friend-of-Kotaku and GTTV host Geoff Keighley. (The app was made with the cooperation of the game's publisher and is being bundled with special editions of the game.) In the main magazine-style article that forms the spine of The Final Hours, Keighley reveals the surprisingly difficult time the development studio Crystal Dynamics had restarting the Tomb Raider series.


As Keighley puts it, this reboot was itself rebooted. Some of the earliest ideas for Lara Croft's return were the wildest and riffed heavily on those quiet, majestic Team Ico PS2 arthouse classics.


The Tomb Raider Reboot Was Going To Be A Lot More Like Shadow of the Colossus"In early design meetings the team started thinking about other games that could inspire a new approach," Keighley writes. "The emotionally rich role-playing game Ico, the survival horror of Resident Evil, and the towering mythical creatures of Shadows [sic] of the Colossus all served as early inspiration."


In the app, Keighley shows off a bounty of sketches and video prototypes of these earlier reboot concepts (We're showing just three glimpses of that material in this article). You can see Lara, on horseback, flee a giant. You can see her leaping a chasm with a child on her back, a child that was going to be an emotionally-sympathetic helper. This two-character design was a callback to the sweet co-operative duo of Yorda and Ico in the game bearing the latter's name. Lara's child helper was later pitched as a monkey but then scrapped.


All this rebooting took several years. Keighley explains how the team at Crystal Dynamics tested a horror concept, something that leaked four years ago. Focus groups thought the horror angle was a stretch.


Tomb Raider's developers eventually settled on the game that officially comes out tomorrow. Not a Shadow of the Colossus riff. Not a horror game. But a game of a young woman surviving on an island full of bad guys, a journey from regular girl to hero.


This new game appears to be very good.


But the one that Keighley shows glimpses of...


The Tomb Raider Reboot Was Going To Be A Lot More Like Shadow of the Colossus


...that would have been something else!


I've read through The Final Hours and recommend it. It's stuffed with interviews and more exclusive visuals like this. It's a superb behind-the-scenes look. You can get it on iTunes for $2.99 at this link. It's coming to Steam in the next day or too as well.


Kotaku

The Critics Mostly Love The New Tomb RaiderTombs! Puzzles! Guns! Jumping! More guns! The setpieces are all there, but does Tomb Raider manage to scratch that treasure-plundering-and-adventuring itch? Reviewers say it does.


Survival horror-esque hiding and sniping goes hand in hand with mountain climbing and cover shooting in the franchise reboot. But what was it, in particular, that sent critics over the edge? Here's what they have to say.



The Critics Mostly Love The New Tomb Raider


Machinima

When you're not fighting against Tomb Raider's design, you feel like you're just going through familiar third-person adventure motions. As you may expect, combat encounters are broken up by largely straightforward environmental puzzles. These usually involve figuring out how to apply the set of upgraded weapons or items that Lara has acquired through the game. On top of this, Tomb Raider is overblown with quicktime events. They are often used to pull you up from a ledge or open a door. They aren't inherently bad but I often felt removed from the on screen action when all I was required to do was a single button press to perform a death-defying maneuver.



The Critics Mostly Love The New Tomb Raider


Eurogamer

There aren't many mandatory puzzles and they aren't too tricky. They involve a lot of ropes. For the first few hours of play, it feels like this core element of the series has been sidelined and dumbed down to a disappointing degree. But again, things look up as the game goes on. The puzzles crop up more regularly and get more challenging. It's just like old times as the game shuts up, calms down and gives Lara the breathing space to quietly work out the answers.



The Critics Mostly Love The New Tomb Raider


Destructoid

Battle is as big a part of Tomb Raider as navigation, and that's a surprisingly good thing, because Crystal Dynamics has been able to create a most elegant combat system. When enemies are near, Lara transitions into a crouching stance, and will automatically take cover near convenient walls and boxes. While most game characters take cover with obtrusive—and often unwanted—snaps, Croft manages to flow naturally and simply from cover to combat to regular movement, in a way that never seems obnoxious or unnecessary. The game's contextual animation is superb, and seems know exactly the correct thing to do in any given situation.



The Critics Mostly Love The New Tomb Raider


Polygon

Few action games come close to the level of control that Tomb Raider provides. For example, after Lara makes a deliberate jump in one direction, you maintain the ability to change where she's falling in mid-air. This air control sits at odds with the emphasis on realism found in Tomb Raider's presentation, but it makes the platforming less linear and demands more from the player. Likewise, you can leap between locations—say from sliding down a rope to climbing up a rock wall with your pickaxe. The speed of these changes makes Lara's animations look awkward and unnatural, but it feels right.



The Critics Mostly Love The New Tomb Raider


IGN

Tomb Raider has definitely taken inspiration from the other great action games of this generation. There's an escaping-from-a-burning-building scenario, and more than one sequence where you're skidding at speed down a waterfall. But even when Tomb Raider falls back on action-game cliché, it does so with such confidence and aplomb that you don't mind—in fact, that burning-building sequence is one of the game's most breathlessly exciting moments. Once it gets going, Tomb Raider is high-octane and squeezes your adrenaline gland dry, but it's also got great variety and pacing. There are quiet, tense moments inbetween the combat-heavy setpieces, and you're never in the same place doing the same thing twice.



The Critics Mostly Love The New Tomb Raider


The Escapist

Even the tombs themselves have been simplified. They're not big huge sprawling things filled with massive statues, hidden switches and deadly traps. They're petite puzzle rooms with a very simple goal: Figure out how to get from the entrance to the treasure box using ordinary objects like gas cans, buoys, and cargo haulers. If you find yourself stumped, Lara's Survivor Instinct ability helps highlight items of interest in the room, and occasionally Lara herself will mutter a hint. It's a great compromise, offering a helpful nudge to those who want it without forcing it on those who don't.



The Critics Mostly Love The New Tomb Raider


Kotaku

Ominous dread replaces intrepid sauciness in this reboot, and there's little of the breathless wonder that distinguished the first Tomb Raider games. You will see beautiful vistas, yes, but not much joy accompanies those moments. A tight claustrophobic camera zooms in on Lara when she squeezes through tight crevices and, even in the game's more open environments, a tense anxiety is never too far off. But that dread makes the play of the game feel deeply satisfying.


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