20 Years of Tomb Raider: 2016 in Review

By on January 8, 2017 | No comments yet

My new year resolution for 2016 was a goal to become more involved with the Tomb Raider community and thankfully I was afforded that opportunity. I’ve met so many incredible people, made such great friends and joined a passionate and embracing Tomb Raider family.

After my initial trip to Crystal Dynamics in Redwood City, California — I was so eager to do Tomb Raider events the following year!

In July of 2016, I was able to fly out to San Diego during Comic-Con season. My family was already vacationing there, and it made sense for me to join my family later that week, and join in on the Tomb Raider festivities, such as the Cosplay gathering where members of the community showed off their awesome costumes and hung out for the weekend!

It was super nerve-wracking, meeting so many members of the community and development team. I remember being so reluctant and afraid to show up at the “Square Enix Experience” where demos and gatherings were being held downtown by the convention center. But it was such an incredible and memorable first experience, meeting such talented and likeminded people, all gathered for our love for Croft!

At the “Square Enix Experience” I was able to get hands on with the PS4 version of Rise of the Tomb Raider, climb a  super cool rock climbing wall, and meet the ever so fabulous Camilla Luddington! I was super nervous meeting her, I never in a million years expected to ever meet this girl. But there she was, glamorous and so down to earth. I remember being so starstruck and stunned to actually see her walk on to the lot, greeting all the fans.

 

SDCC 2016 was super special, and it was an honor to finally meet everyone there!

 

More recently in November of 2016, Crystal Dynamics and a company in northern Cali called Adventure Out partnered up to host a survival training course with staff members of IGN to be grouped up with members of the community to learn basic survival skills and compete Tomb Raider style!

As a Colorado native, it was quite the trip to haul ass halfway across the country on such short notice for the next TR event! That being said, I road tripped 13 hours from Colorado to Arizona to meet up with a buddy, Isaac Cabrera aka Tom Braider — Where we drove through Los Angeles to pick up a few more members of our party, and drove up the coast to Santa Cruz to join the rest of the group for the training class! We even met up with Earl Baylon for a lunch date in LA.

During the course we learned how to build shelter, purify water, make fire by friction, and even build bundle bows like Lara’s iconic makeshift bow in TR 2013! It was a blast, and I’m super excited for what’s to come in 2017! Be sure to check out the gallery below!

I want to give a special thanks to my road trip buddies — for dealing with my shenanigans, and being the best road trip pals. It was so much fun.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Comes to Playstation 4

By on July 19, 2016 | No comments yet

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Crystal Dynamics has officially announced the PS4 release for Rise of the Tomb Raider! After a year of a timed exclusivity arrangement that secured the Tomb Raider sequel’s debut on the Xbox and PC platforms, fellow raiders and interested PS4 gamers can finally get their hands on the game and experience Croft’s newest globe-trotting endeavor beginning on October 11th!

For more info on the “20 Year Tomb Raider Celebration” release on PS4, head on over to the official Tomb Raider blog for the entire collection breakdown!

Be sure to check out a special “spoiler free” video I put together to help welcome Lara back home to Playstation.

Cheers.

Can Tomb Raider Ever Go Survival Horror?

By on March 4, 2016 | No comments yet

Revised-TR-Survival-Horror-Featured-ImageOne of the fun things we love about Tomb Raider is it’s light hearted, vibrant aesthetic. The newly rebooted titles are gritty as the franchise has ever been. But, what if this idea was taken a step further? The Tomb Raider 2013 release had a very creepy survival aspect to it. From the very beginning, Lara was knocked unconscious by a dangerous island inhabitant after she and her crew washed up on shore. The idea held a very dark and mysterious undertone, but the development’s execution persisted a disconnect from its potential to becoming a very real survival horror title.

When TR-2013 was first revealed, it was initially thought to have been entering the horror genre. Though, the studio had made it clear during it’s campaign that the game would not follow in that direction. It was still a survival action game. A young girl exploring the far reaches of the world, encountering some of the most dangerous predators and environments on the planet.

With the island of Yamatai’s lethality demonstrated throughout the course of the game, we see deep underground caverns littered with the bodies of many souls, dating back generations. Brutal sacrifices, bodies burned at the stake. Dangerous, murderous men skulking around the grounds of Yamatai with nothing to lose. These are just some of the things that could have made the final game much darker than it actually was. But with bright, beautiful landscapes, and ordinary voices that spoke for the many demented members of “the Solari,” it’s hard to perceive this new version of the franchise as “frightening.” And that is perfectly okay. That’s how the franchise has always been, only now it has a slightly darker tone to its narrative.

With all of these brilliantly implemented set pieces, can Lara Croft really take on a much more twisted sense of reality?

Recently, I was at home watching a horror film favorite. To be specific, I was watching “The Hills Have Eyes 2” on HBO. Throughout the movie, one of the characters really stuck out to me. A gorgeous blonde woman, scared shitless, but armed and persistent to save her friend who was abducted and taken to the mines that lie under the desert canyons. Resourceful and clever, she fought her way through the disgusting deformed mutants who cackled and haunted the jagged hollow hills.

Can Tomb Raider ever go survival horror? Would fans go for this? How far can this idea actually go? Can you see Lara traversing through the deep Virginia Hills, searching a lost valley for a long forgotten artifact? Can you picture Lara Croft fighting off hordes of mass inbred mountain men that only wish to consume or harm her? Perhaps it would be a good thrill and a fascinating journey to see Lara prevail. Seeing her thrive in a situation we would never expect to witness or experience!

As a long time survival horror fan, I personally think this would be a fantastic take and addition to the franchise. But I’m curious, what do you think? Let me know in the comments below your thoughts on this idea!


UPDATE:

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Rise of the Tomb Raider’s newest DLC “Cold Darkness Awakened” is now live on the Xbox One Marketplace! Lara must now face hordes of infected throughout the dark Siberian forests as she attempts to halt the infection from spreading. Featuring new puzzles and survival horror gameplay, this expansion conveys an eerie aesthetic, alluding a menacing sense of dread.

Lara battling zombies in a survival horror Tomb Raider fashion has long been on my wish list! Fans of the TR franchise and the horror genre should be quite pleased with this newly released expedition mode! Check it out below!

Decommissioned during the Cold War, a dormant weapons research base has been breached, unleashing a mysterious affliction into the Siberian wilderness that transforms men into blood-thirsty, mindless killers. Lara must overcome increasingly dangerous waves of these infected adversaries while scavenging their equipment and crafting additional gear on the fly, in kill or be killed survival-combat. Fight for your life against new enemies and complete new challenges, while discovering a way to stop or perhaps even reverse this impending catastrophe. Includes the Ushanka outfit, which reduces Lara’s damage from melee attacks, the devastating Voidhammer shotgun, and the Cold Darkness Awakened Card Pack which includes over 15 new Expedition Cards.

Xbox Store: Cold Darkness Awakened for Xbox One, $9.99

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Road To E3 – New Rise of The TR Trailer

By on June 1, 2015 | 466 comments

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Happy Monday, everyone! This morning, Crystal Dynamics released a new trailer and the official box art for Rise of The Tomb Raider! Check out the awesome new video and poster!

RELATED: Reflecting: Demise of The Tomb Raider

Reflecting: Demise of The Tomb Raider

By on May 24, 2015 | 478 comments

Demise-of-The-TR-Featured-ImageWith tensions soaring and bad press surrounding Rise of The Tomb Raider, I’ve decided to write this article from a different perspective rather than my usual angry rant. Rise is the highly anticipated sequel to 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot. Fans were ecstatic after seeing the world premiere trailer at the E3 2014 event. Though, the hype was short lived after only a few months when Crystal Dynamics had announced that the next installment would see it’s arrival launch exclusively on the Xbox platform come holiday 2015.

The community pushed back with petitions, blackouts, numerous rants on social media and so forth. Yet, after all the hard heavy emotions, I think I’m finally starting to understand why Crystal chose to debut the game on Microsoft’s gaming platform.

The Tomb Raider reboot took four years of hard intensive development to see it’s vision through to the mainstream market. From the early reveal days of the reboot, former global brand director Karl Stewart often spoke on behalf of the developers working on the game, citing that this new iteration of Tomb Raider would be “the game of our careers.” With that achievement came sacrifice and resources that the studio had exhausted through out the last game’s campaign.

“But that success wasn’t without its cost. Several members of the team burned out during the last game’s stretch of development, working 18-hour long days for nearly a year. The needs of a top-tier video game forced its developer to sacrifice personal hobbies, friendships, and time with family. Through that pain and sacrifice, however, Crystal Dynamics delivered the best Tomb Raider to date. Now, they just have to do it again.”

—Rise of The Tomb Raider’s GI cover story,

In the beginning, a lot of us questioned as to how this is helping the fans or the studio by partnering with a tech “monster” like Microsoft. Their affiliation with the last game just made their invitation that more welcoming. But with first party marketing, and hardware specialized hands to help work on the game to relieve some of the pressure, it definitely makes sense now why Crystal Dynamics thought this was the best decision for the game.

“This doesn’t mean that we’re walking away from our fans who only play on PlayStation or on PC.”

Rise of the TR Announcement

In the initial press release, it was emphasized that they had made Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris along with The Definitive Edition accessible on both Playstation and Xbox platforms. With the mentioning of Rise’s exclusivity duration, they understand how important it is to develop a game for multiple platforms. Which kind of contradicts their exclusivity contract, but it’s evident that it’s important the studio reaps the benefits of that partnership. Once the game is made with more qualified hands on deck, the struggle to porting the title over to the other platforms shouldn’t be as severe as if it were being developed for multiple hardware specs in just one stretch.

I’m predicting that Rise will soon see a PC and PS4 release shortly after the title launches first on Xbox. It’d be a bit ridiculous for the team to work so hard to only have their game being played on just one platform. Out of respect and ethical diplomacy, of course we’re not going to hear anything about the game releasing on other platforms quite yet. Coding the game tailored specifically for Xbox One could be either incredible or an epic fail. It’s obvious Crystal set the bar pretty low for collaborating with the weaker partner, but one can hope that the team can cook up an extraordinary game out of this ordeal.

I sincerely hope they surprise us all, and that in the end, partnering with Microsoft was indeed the right decision.

With E3 being just a few weeks away. It’s undoubtable that Rise of The TR is going to have a huge turnout this year.

Cheers.

The Crystal Compass Podcast Episode: 29

By on May 2, 2015 | 8 comments

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In the newest episode of the Crystal Compass Podcast, community manager Meagan Marie and Crystal brand coordinator Robin Huey touch base on Tomb Raider 2013’s recent milestone and the newest mobile release from Square Enix, Lara Croft: Relic Run! Rise of the Tomb Raider’s game director, Brian Horton weighs in on the systems of survival, and does a take 5 Q&A! Check it out!

RELATED: Reflecting: Demise of The Tomb Raider

Subscribe to the Crystal Compass podcast on iTunes!

Tomb Raider Yamatai Concept Art – New Milestone

By on April 6, 2015 | 1 comment

LCSacPosterFeaturedImageTomb Raider has reached yet another milestone, having sold 8.5 million copies since it’s initial release in March of 2013. The game has been sold across 6 gaming platforms, consisting of Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, and Mac! This is an incredible record the game holds, currently being the highest sold title in the entire Tomb Raider franchise.

RELATED: “Rise of The Tomb Raider” Launch Campaign

Congratulations to the entire team who worked on the newest Tomb Raider iteration. It’s a perfect example of a reboot done right.

In celebration of this incredible milestone, Crystal has released some new concept art from the last game’s development.

Enjoy the gallery below!

 

 

The Crystal Compass Podcast Episode: 28

By on March 20, 2015 | 8 comments

Crystal Compass LogoHey everyone! The Crystal Habit podcast is back and newly rebranded as “The Crystal Compass!”

In this new feature, senior community manager Meagan Marie sits down with the talent behind Rise of The Tomb Raider to dive into the mythology surrounding the next chapter in the Tomb Raider saga.

Subscribe to the Crystal Compass podcast on iTunes!

Keeley Hawes Interview — Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris

By on March 19, 2015 | 512 comments

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Keeley Hawes opens up about reprising her role as classic Lara in Crystal Dynamics’ newest title release, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris! Available now for PS4, PC and Xbox One!

Playstation Network | Steam | Xbox Store

 

RELATED: “Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris” Gameplay

“Rise of The Tomb Raider” Launch Campaign

By on February 11, 2015 | 1,331 comments

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Click to enlarge image

Crystal Dynamics has officially started the campaign for “Rise of the TR” this month with Gameinformer, unveiling the March issue with a cover story for the next installment in the Tomb Raider franchise.

Late last year, Square Enix had announced “Rise of The TR” as an Xbox exclusive, being published by Microsoft come Holiday 2015. Still up for speculation that Rise could eventually come to other platforms sometime after it’s initial release on Xbox.

RELATED: Rise of The Tomb Raider – Reveal Coverage

Throughout the month of February, Crystal is exclusively releasing assets and details for Rise of The Tomb Raider via Gameinformer’s ROTTR Hub, where you can check there periodically for TR updates.

One of the points I made in my open letter to Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix regarding the exclusivity deal was my concern about releasing a next-gen Tomb Raider title on last-gen’s
hardware.

Developing a next-gen game for last-gen’s hardware is not “ambitious” in any way, period.
Especially if the game is set to drop on the cusp of 2016. — Open Letter

Crystal Dynamics Head of Studios, Darrell Gallagher addressed this concern announcing Nixxes Software as the studio who’s developing Rise of The TR for the Xbox 360 version.

We’re wholly focused on Rise being an Xbox One title without limitation, without even thinking of the Xbox 360 version,” Gallagher revealed to Game Informer in their latest March issue.

Nixxes put together a tech demo of Rise of the Raider content running on Xbox 360, and we were totally blown away by what they achieved.

Nixxes has been a long time partner of the studio since the Legacy of Kain games. Their first ever project was Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, and since having worked on every Tomb Raider installment alongside Crystal Dynamics, including their work on the Tomb Raider Trilogy.

The latest ROTTR Gameinformer coverage has me feeling a bit bitter-sweet. I’m excited because Lara’s next journey has been revealed, however my rose colored glasses aren’t that tinted, leaving me frustrated and conflicted.

To read Game informer’s full cover story in the latest March issue filled with exclusive screenshots of the next installment of Tomb Raider, click here to subscribe!

Where do you stand with the Xbox exclusivity deal? How do you feel about developers utilizing outdated hardware as an obligation to deliver diluted gaming experiences on last-gen tech?

Is the 360 and PS3 holding back next-gen titles from their fullest potential?
Let me know what you think about the new Rise coverage in the comments below!

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