Lara Croft can't catch a break, and at this year's E3, we got to check out the gameplay demo that picks up straight where last year's left off.
After escaping some crazy savage folk who sacrificed her friend, Lara winds up outside, where we then watch her wander the wilderness armed with nothing except her nearly-depleted wits. For a time, she only has the wilderness to worry about, but signs of life -- a hanged man, debris, human skulls -- remind us of the constant danger Lara is in. The base camp system comes into play again, when stormy weather drives Lara to a shallow cave, starting up a small fire for warmth. The common theme here seems to be the fire, which indicates when a base camp is near. Stopping by triggers her to sit down and brings up a menu where players can upgrade Lara or her gear.
Finding your way around the wilderness requires a keen attention to detail, or you might wind up lost on the island. Landmarks like waterfalls and other landscape details are vital, though Lara also has a survival "mode" not unlike Batman's Detective Mode from the Arkham games.
In terms of gameplay, what we saw didn't differ too much from last year's E3 demo, but the progression did offer us a deeper glimpse into the story behind the island and its inhabitants. While we're still not sure what the hell drove them to savagery, the primary bad guys in Tomb Raider appear to be former survivors, like Lara and her friends. There also appears to be some kind of mythos surrounding the island's Japanese deity, though it's unclear who worships her and why. Yeah, expect a giant mystery to unravel.
What's most striking is, perhaps, the intensity behind Tomb Raider. Lara is put into some pretty awful situations, as we've seen before -- from watching those around her suffer to getting her foot caught in a bear trap. But at the conclusion of this year's demo, when Lara and some of her comrades are captured, we're shown an almost-rape scene, during which the young explorer fights back by biting her attacker's ear off and then blowing away half his face with his own gun. Crystal Dynamics isn't holding back, and honestly, we're grateful for it.
With Tomb Raider slated for release on March 5, this will be the game's last E3 appearance. Here's hoping for more gameplay in the coming months.
"Crossroads" E3 2012 trailer - YouTube