Articles:2015/06/26/Syria Demo Impressions

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Syria Demo

This part of Lara’s new adventure has not been seen up until now, and even at E3 it was only shown to the press and us ambassadors. (At least they tried to keep it a secret, but, well...) That this level really plays in Syria is confirmed on the loading screen.

The demo starts with Lara and her driver sitting in a Jeep and driving down a path in the mountain. The surrounding environment looks Mediterranean. Out of the blue a helicopter appears and starts shooting at them. A breakneck evasive manoeuvres follow. After a short discussion about who told whom what the driver gets hit and collapses behind the steering wheel. Lara gets thrown from the car and slides down a steep cliff. Just in time she can get a grip with her climbing axe.

This is the end of the introductory cut scene, from now on the player has full control over Lara:

While she pushes forward along the narrow path, she takes a voice recorder from her pockets and starts listening to a note her father took a long time ago. It seems like this note is mostly concerned with the hidden entrances to ancient tombs and address Lara directly, just as if her father had taken these notes only for her.

After she reaches a tomb at the end of the path and enters it she finds an enormous monolith. It is covered with ancient writings which Lara at this point can not completely translate. So she starts looking around the chamber and finds some frescoes (?) at the walls, which depict ancient holy men (?). These images will provide her with hints she can later use to translate the monolith. (For now she is still missing some.)

On she goes and after she reaches sunlight again she has to cross some old masonry, which crumbles to dust beneath her feet. Additionally the helicopter is back and takes her under fire again. Just in time she manages to reach the other side where she can shimmy around a ledge to get to the next entrance. Again she listens to the notes her father left her.

Inside the cave a skeleton awaits her. A scorpion crawls over his skull and through his eye sockets. After some ducking she reaches another chamber with a lot more skeletons. It looks like there has been a battle here a long time ago, Trinity against pilgrims.

Out of nowhere a Spike Trap drops from the ceiling, Lara can barely escape. Meanwhile the Trinity soldiers try to get in by using explosives, she can hear explosions from far off. She herself has to use the axe to pry open some old walls to get to where she’s going.

Suddenly her foot is stuck in a trap and again she can barely escape the spikes that rush towards her from the ceiling. As a reward she can glimpse a sort of mausoleum, at which point she wishes her father was still alive to see this!

Here the demo ends.

Impressions Concerning Graphics

Graphics in this demo are indeed on a very high level. We have so far only seen demos on the Xbox One and it has been really impressive, far more detailed than the Definitive Edition on the same machine. At some points there are still some dropped frames or small errors, but nothing major, nothing that can’t be fixed until November. The environment and the inside of the cave are very detailed as well, there is a lot of light and shadow play going on, particles in the air cater for atmospheric mood.

Impressions Concerning Game-play

We ourselves were not allowed to play, but Jason Bada had some very spectacular death scenes. So, this time around there will again be some players who will try to find every possible death Lara can die. ;-) The controls seem to be working fine and it was fun watching him play, seeing Lara jump and climb and crawl. At some points there seem to be some hidden items or secrets, which we turned a cold shoulder on for now - Jason would consistently run by them and didn’t tell us anything about them even after being asked, so not to spoil anything!

The return of tombs to Tomb Raider will certainly be welcomed by most. Additionally a lot of side quests were promised to us, so I’m very curious about that. Furthermore there are supposed to be far more puzzles in the game, of which we didn’t see that much so far.

Overall Impression

Watching the demo was a lot of fun and I had to restrain myself not to grab the controller and start playing myself!