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ALL SHE WROTE: THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF LARA CROFT AT E3

nVIDIA and PlayStation provide deeper looks at Lara’s latest.

As it turns out, that initial trailer really wasn’t all she wrote…

When I published my impressions of Shadow’s E3 debut on Monday, I thought Xbox’s trailer and the snippet of gameplay that followed it courtesy of Square Enix were all there was to see. Post-publication, however, I discovered there was more to the story — quite a bit more, in fact. Though the aforementioned videos feature an underwhelming focus on combat, further offerings from both nVIDIA and Playstation showcase the considerably more appealing exploration-based aspects of the game.

nVIDIA’s offering, in particular, provides an excellent look at the various traversal mechanics.

New elements like the ability to rappel and wall-run stand out, but (again) I’m struck by how similar to Rise it all looks, and (again) that’s not always for the best.

With floaty, sped-up-looking jumps and climbing, there just isn’t a consistent appearance of weight to Lara’s movements. As I’ve said before, there’s a touch of hypocrisy here considering that I have no problem with the snappy resource-collection animation, but, for me, the traversal issues are infinitely more immersion-breaking… especially given that the awful ‘scramble’ that marred both Rise and its predecessor looks set to make an unwelcome return.

Tell me… what about that abomination says ‘scramble’ to you? These games are made by incredibly talented artists — you only have to look at the stones that fall away from the ledge as Lara hits it to see it; I simply don’t understand how, three games in, this one keeps getting through.

Aside from that monstrosity, though, there’s still a lot more to like than not, especially when taken alongside PlayStation’s footage…

… which features even more traversal, demonstrates the expanded underwater gameplay, and gives us a look at some good old tomb-raiding action.

The sole drawback to PlayStation’s presentation comes when one of the developers, speaking about fans having requested deeper (😉…) swimming mechanics, says the following:

… sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for, because we’re always going to view it through our modern, survival lens.

As positive as I feel about most of what we’ve been shown, I can’t deny that that one caused some considerable eye-rolling. Survival was, obviously, a necessary theme of the first game in the rebooted series given the story it told, but it felt tired in Rise, and I’d hoped that, as she becomes ever-more experienced, Lara would start to enjoy herself a little more on her various expeditions. Adventure — not, ‘Oh, God, what’s going to try to kill me next?!’… well, in the beginning, at least.

It seems, however, that I’m doomed to disappointment on that score. As far as this iteration of the series goes, survival seems like it’s here to stay — and though I would be more than happy to see it shown the proverbial door, I can’t deny that I enjoyed the hell out of both Tomb Raider and Rise despite it. I have everything crossed that I’ll be able to say the same about Shadow

Finally, on top of everything else, the game continues to look fantastic. On my various adventures around the Web, I have noticed some concerns about the visuals, and while I completely understand where they’re coming from (I was really thrown by Lara’s somewhat bland appearance when the cosplay-friendly gear guide was released a few months ago), I’m not too concerned. Not yet…

True, Shadow doesn’t pack anywhere near as much of a visual upgrade over Rise as I’d hoped, but the fact is that we’re coming to the end of the current console generation, approaching the limits of what today’s hardware can do. It’s entirely possible that some visual concessions had to be made to accommodate the game’s various new features. Less visual accoutrements in favour of a lush, richer world and fresh ways to explore it? That’s a sacrifice I’m happy to make.

For the most part, Shadow continues to look great — and I continue to be thoroughly unable to wait for it.

Oh, and I almost forgot… climbing gloves! 😍.


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