Playing the first three hours of the full game serves merely to piece together all of these past promotional materials into something a bit more coherent. By and large, there are no new surprises in terms of storyline.
You might already know the drill: a young Croft begins her journey with a rag-tag band of archaeologists, en route to Asia to look for some ancient ruins. Her vessel gets shipwrecked near an island in a freak natural disaster, and she is separated from her team - forced to survive a series of unfortunate events in a story that ultimately shapes our heroine into the bold, tiger-shooting Tomb Raider that we know and love.
For the most part, all of this feels exactly as you would imagine a Tomb Raider should, with lush forests, dank underground tunnels and ancient temples forming the majority of the game’s backdrop. There are also plenty of (admittedly simple at this stage) platform-based puzzles that allow Lara to clamber atop of debris and buildings buried deep within large environments.
There’s a lot of shooting in Tomb Raider too. At first, it fits in quite well with the whole survival ethos and the essence of the franchise - Lara uses a bow and arrow to fend off dangerous animals, hunt docile creatures, and silently take out or distract human enemies. But once Croft picks up a pistol, the game quickly steps into ‘cover shooter’ territory.
From that point on, survival is essentially a case of periodically finding a good place to hide and shooting the heads off of nasty men with assault rifles. This was most evident in the final segment of the preview, where I had to guide Lara through a snowy radio tower and fight through waves of army men.
Investigating all the nooks and crannies in each expansive (if linear) area will throw up relics, storyline-padding diaries, equipment upgrades in the form of salvage and experience points that can be exchanged at campsites to improve Lara’s abilities. The game contains three skill trees, which boost survival, shooting and melee techniques.
With plenty of discovery and exploration on offer though, there’s still potential for the full game to be positively-weighted - in favour of the sort of action that will thrill survival experts and long-time Lara fans.
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