Tomb Raider

I hope you weren't too terribly excited for those Tomb Raider remasters that were announced earlier this month, because they've been canceled. The teaser videos are gone and Realtech VR, the company that was purportedly handling the remasters, said in a cryptic tweet that it is now focused on new AR and VR projects. 

The only follow-up it has provided was in response to a request to release just the HD textures, in which it said simply, "We can't respond sorry." But Square Enix told GamesIndustry that it was responsible for the kill order, because the remasters hadn't actually been given the green light in the first place. 

"While we always welcome passion and excitement for the Tomb Raider franchise, the remasters in question were initiated and advertised without seeking approval. As such, they were never officially sanctioned," it said in a statement. "Ensuring fans receive high quality gaming experiences is at the heart of our mission as a company, which requires all projects to go through proper channels." 

A Realtech VR rep said in an email that it couldn't discuss the specifics of the matter for legal reasons, but added that the studio "had a great experience with Square Enix" while developing the mobile versions of the first two Tomb Raider games.

"But our recent research, studies and reviews on Tomb Raider 3 were unwelcome, although those rights are protected with Fair dealing in Canadian copyright law," the rep said. "Right now, we don't have any business with Square Enix anymore."

Tomb Raider

Daniel Wu is mostly wasted as a sidekick who gets about 10 minutes of screen time.

I can think of a lot of things that would've made Tomb Raider a much stupider movie. For example: dinosaurs.

Tomb Raider is not a terrible movie. After game adaptation like Hitman (the bad one, and the other bad one) and braindead bullshit like Pixels, that’s a relief. Remember the 90s, when Hollywood was hellbent on adapting every Japanese game into a movie, and that gave us post-apocalyptic cyberpunk Mario, Jean Claude Van Damme in an invisible boat and this poor bloated bastard in Double Dragon? Tomb Raider bears little resemblance to those messy, hilarious, horribly acted movies. And honestly, I wish it did. Then it wouldn’t be so boring. 

You’ve seen this movie before, in every Hollywood origin story. Like the 2013 game, Tomb Raider and actress Alicia Vikander try to make Lara Croft a believably real, human character, and both end up making her the action movie cliche of a real person, instead. You know the type: she's "poor" because she won't spend her family's billions, but still hangs out on cool, scenic rooftops in London. She struggles with the violence of killing someone to survive, but is soon making death-defying leaps and wielding a bow like she's been puncturing windpipes and not apples all her life.

Most of this character growth is conveniently explained by flashbacks, strategically inserted to ensure you don't need to worry about things like nuance or subtext as you watch. As an adaptation of the 2013 game, I'd call Tomb Raider a complete success: it's safe, generic action entertainment that takes itself a bit too seriously.

Alicia Vikander kills it in the action scenes, but it's all just so predictable.

I can think of a lot of things that would've made Tomb Raider a much stupider movie. For example: dinosaurs. Most of the story is set on an island Lara seeks out, the island her father disappeared on, which happens to hold the tomb (!!) of the long-lost Queen Himiko. On that island Lara encounters Trinity, an evil Illuminati organization trying to find Himiko's tomb to use her mystical powers for evil. There aren't any dinosaurs on the island, which makes sense, because dinosaurs died out something like 65 million years ago. But all I'm saying is, what if there had been?

Put dinosaurs in this movie and it would immediately get way dumber. I definitely would've started laughing. Just imagine it! There's some rustling in the bushes, and instead of a guy jumping out at Lara and trying to choke her, it's a damn shoulda-been-extinct-forever-ago raptor! That would've been preposterous. And imagine if, when Lara had discovered the location of Himiko's tomb and opened it for Trinity's goons into it after completing a classic videogame puzzle sequence…

You can almost see the QTE prompts.

Mummies. Imagine how dumb it would be if Lara ended up fighting her way through a bunch of reanimated mummies to get to Himiko's body. That would be much less realistic than the Temple of Doom-style traps Lara and the bad guy, Vogel, find themselves dodging. And mummies would be a complete tonal mishmash with Vogel, played by Walton Goggins, who comes across as ruthless and a little bit crazy, but too lightly sketched to be as intimidating as the movie wants him to be. He wouldn't be very scary once mummies showed up. 

If Lara Croft had ridden a centaur...

Or maybe he could've gone crazy, and been extra scary. Walton Goggins can play crazy. He's great at it! And when they finally got to Himiko's tomb, the dumbest thing I can imagine being there to guard it, pretty much, is a centaur. That shit would be campy as hell. I don't even know how I'd review a movie that ended with Lara Croft jumping on the back of a centaur and killing it with a climbing pick. In the kind of movie where something like that happened, the writer definitely would've made Alicia Vikander say "Tomb? Raided." after killing everything. I'm groaning and it hasn't even happened.

All of those crazy, dumb things happen in the original Tomb Raider game, and they would've been full-on ridiculous in a movie. But they're also the things that made Tomb Raider so memorable. I will never forget stepping into that valley and seeing that T-Rex come out of the darkness. I love the foreboding atmosphere and how enemies like mummies make you really feel like you've discovered a place no human has been in thousands of years. I also love the movie The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, and how it goes full camp but still makes you love its characters with fun writing and chemistry.

I just really want to rewatch The Mummy, to be honest.

None of the characters in Tomb Raider have that chemistry, because they don't have enough time on screen together to earn it, and the film takes itself too seriously, which is why there's never even a hint of tension that dinosaurs might show up, or mummies might bust through the walls, or anything might happen to deviate from the predictable path of a totally fine action movie.

If Lara Croft had ridden a centaur, this movie would've been panned. It probably would've bombed. Of course the things that work in videogames don't often translate to movies with real human beings. The videogame movies of the 90s never really learned that, which is why they're so consistently insane. It's also why they're never, ever boring—and when they're predictable, it's because you know the stupidest possible thing is about to happen. Tomb Raider isn't a terrible movie, but I wish it was. It would've been a lot more fun, that way.

Tomb Raider

Update: As suggested yesterday, Shadow of the Tomb Raider will launch on PC on September 14, 2018. 

"Experience Lara Croft’s defining moment as she becomes the Tomb Raider," so reads a tweet from the official Tomb Raider Twitter account, alongside the following short:

"Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be unveiled on April 27, 2018," says Square Enix in a statement. "Fans around the world can visit [the Tomb Raider official site] for a chance to play the game and meet the developers at one of three exclusive reveal events."

Original story:

"March 15th, 2018 6:00 am PDT," reads a new teaser countdown on the official Tomb Raider website. It would appear this is when Square Enix plans to officially announce Lara Croft's next outing, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, to the world. 

Inspecting the HTML, however, suggests September 14, 2018 is the game's due date—as uncovered by Twitter person Nibel.     

A quick check at our end appears to confirm the above:

Nibel also points to a more in-depth reveal due next month: 

As per the Tomb Raider site, the official reveal is tomorrow, March 15 at 6am PT/1pm GMT. We'll update if anything changes before then.  

Tomb Raider

I had no idea that the first three Tomb Raider games were available on Steam but, yep, they're all there. However, they're the original DOS ports running through an emulator, which throws up a bunch of performance, resolution and control problems. Thankfully, more modern remasters are on the way that will run at 1080p with 60fps.

Realtech VR is the company handling the remasters, and it's basing them on the mobile versions of the games. You'll need to own the games on Steam in order to play the remasters because they're essentially mods of those versions, but if you do then they'll be completely free. The developer says it's looking at doing the same for GOG but isn't sure if it's going to be possible. 

Along with a new 3D engine, the remasters will offer support for OpenVR, feature a range of graphics options and be playable with a controller. Realtech VR hasn't yet set a release date.

Realtech VR was founded in 2008 and has largely worked on games for iOS, although its website says that its team has experience in PC development. It has already finished the first two games and is currently working on Tomb Raider 3. Since the announcement, fan questions have been pouring in, and Realtech VR has been dealing with them on Twitter—click here to read its responses.

You can watch videos of its work on the first two running below, and everything seems to be as promised. A trailer for the remaster of Tomb Raider 3 is coming next month. 

Tomb Raider

Square Enix has announced that a new Tomb Raider game is in the works, and that it will be revealed in a "major event" set to take place sometime in 2018. And that is literally all I can tell you about it. 

I'm not kidding.

Announcements of announcements aren't my favorite thing in the world, especially when they're for not-exactly-a-surprise news that a popular videogame series is getting a another sequel. I also find it amusing that a message telling fans that they'll have to wait ends with, "we simply can't wait."

And yet, there's something odd about it—something in the wording that makes me think that maybe there's more going on here than meets the eye. What if... What if there's a secret hidden in the message? What if the first letter of the first word in each sentence combined to form a word?   

Hello!

That little Easter egg still doesn't tell us anything new about the game, but it does appear to confirm the Shadow of the Tomb Raider title that leaked in October of last year, a rumor that solidified (although it remained unconfirmed) this past June. So at least we're not going away completely empty-handed. 

(And I cannot tell a lie: Rachel Weber of Gamesradar gets credit for noticing the Shadow secret—although I'm sure I would've figured it out on my own eventually.)

Tomb Raider

It was always inevitable that Rise of the Tomb Raider would get a follow-up, and almost as inevitable that it'd be called "Shadow of the Tomb Raider" (games with "shadow" in the title are popular, you see). So it's hardly a surprise that a new leak can be added to those which seem to confirm that Shadow of the Tomb Raider is in development. 

The first emerged in October, when someone noticed a fellow commuter flicking through Shadow of the Tomb Raider marketing guff on a laptop. Eight months later, and marketing guff has struck again, because this time a California-based company called Take Off appears to have jumped the gun uploading stuff onto their website, resulting in this being found:

The top line is a collection of logo options (note the image on the far right features art used to promote Rise Of..., in other words, it's placeholder). The bottom section shows a handful of key art proposals, illustrations which may serve as inspiration for the main marketing art for this third instalment.

The art has been removed from the website now, which only serves to raise my suspicions that the game definitely exists. I was surprised Shadow of the Tomb Raider didn't appear at E3 last week, but in any case, I think it's safe to say it'll come eventually.

Cheers, NeoGAF.

Tomb Raider

Inspired by the work-in-progress open source OpenTomb project, Tomb Raider modder XProger has spent the past several months working on their own browser-based version of the '96 original Tomb Raider named OpenLara. It's now playable in both third and first person view. 

As an engine remake, OpenLara does not recreate the entire game however its City of Vilcabamba level (level two) can be played right now—complete with bloodthirsty wolfpacks, underwater tunnel systems, and ferocious bears. A "browse level" function does however let you load the game's other levels, but I've spent all of my time with OpenLara attempting to relearn its stop/start running-jumping-ledge-catching mechanics which seem entirely archaic today. 

Nonetheless, touring Lara Croft around familiar levels at higher than ever framerates—the original was locked at 30 FPS—is great fun, particularly when you can do so instantly from your browser. The ability to switch to first-person is also a nice touch and makes grizzly encounters and acrobatic leaps that little bit scarier.    

More information on the OpenLara project can be found via this TombRaider forum thread, and can be played in-browser over here

Tomb Raider

If this supposed leak/over-the-shoulder peek at a commuter's laptop is to be believed, the next Tomb Raider game is to be named Shadow of the Tomb Raider (minus contributions from Rhianna Pratchett). Tomb Raider 4: The Last Revelation HD, on the other hand, marks the work of several TR enthusiasts who plan to reimagine Lara's fourth main series outing—now over 17 years old—with "sharper textures, higher quality objects, brand new effects and additional gameplay features."

The Last Revelation was arguably the most realised Tomb Raider of the PlayStation One era, and its HD remaster promises modern effects such as dynamic fogs, smoother shadows and high quality sprites. It's in its early stages of development, however its team, who form the collective Raiding the Globe, have already compiled a few 'before and after' shots which can be found below. 

Here's the blurb as per the Raiding the Globe site

"Tomb Raider 4: The Last Revelation HD allows players to experience Core Design's original and unparalleled classic game remastered with sharper textures, higher quality objects, brand new effects additional gameplay features and much more. Experience Egypt like never before, walking (and running) through ancient tombs populated with fierce traps and deadly foes. More information to be revealed. Happy Raiding!"

Original

Remaster

Original

Remaster

Original

Remaster

Original

Remaster

More information on Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation HD can be found via its site or the Raiding the Globe Facebook page

Tomb Raider

Crystal Dynamics has announced that Rhianna Pratchett, the lead writer of the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot and the 2015 sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider, has moved on to "new adventures separate from the Tomb Raider franchise."   

"Rhianna was instrumental in helping us find Lara's voice in the 2013 origin story, and through Rise of the Tomb Raider she shaped Lara into the evolving heroine we know today," developer Crystal Dynamics wrote. "The entire team thanks Rhianna for her dedication and tireless efforts on the games. Please join us in wishing Rhianna the absolute best in her next adventure." 

Pratchett tweeted similarly good vibes, writing, "I want to thank the @CrystalDynamics team for their dedication esp. @jstafford @josefkstories & @noahmhughes. Guys, it's been emotional. But, I like to think we did some good things. Maybe shifted the gaming landscape a wee bit. And that feels damn good." 

It sounds like an amicable parting of ways, but still has to represent a loss for the series. The reboot was strongly praised for turning Lara Croft into a real character, and Rise of the Tomb Raider was selected as the winner of the 2016 Videogame Writing Award. It wasn't a solo win—lead narrative designer John Stafford, narrative designer Cameron Suey, and additional writer Philip Gelatt also got their names engraved on the trophy—but as the lead writer, her voice was far and away the one heard the loudest. Those are some big shoes to fill. 

Tomb Raider

It's been 20 years since Tomb Raider turned Lara Croft into videogaming's most famous gun-toting spelunker, and to mark the moment Crystal Dynamics has released a new "20 Year Celebration" DLC pack for the most recent game in the series, Rise of the Tomb Raider. For a tenner, it will let you poke around inside Lara Croft's childhood home. defend it from hordes of the undead (and a dickish-sounding uncle), and most important of all wrap her up in a new skin that's very much "Old Lara."

"Blood Ties," in which Lara must explore Croft Manor "to reclaim her legacy and uncover a family mystery that will change her life forever," will add more than an hour of single-player story, while "Lara's Nightmare" is a scoreboard-based defense against zombies set on tearing the place up. The pack will also add a new "Extreme Survivor" difficulty, an outfit and weapon inspired by Tomb Raider 3, and five "classic Lara Croft skins," including the sharply-angled work of art seen above.

(The more I look at it, the creepier it gets.)

The DLC comes alongside a new Rise of the Tomb Raider patch that makes a number of relatively minor adjustments to the game that you can read about here. Do be aware that you'll need to have this update installed if you want to take proper advantage of the 20 Year Celebration Pack, so if you're currently in a beta stream you'll need to switch that back.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration is included with the season pass, and is also available separately for $10/ 7 or as part of the $60/ 40 Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration Edition.

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