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 – Blood Ties VR Spoiler-Free Review

By on January 4, 2017 | No comments yet

As you may already be aware, 2016 was the year of Tomb Raider. Marking 20 years since the franchises birth, Crystal Dynamics celebrated 20 years of Tomb Raider by hosting several events — such as the Tomb Raider Suite that happened in December, and Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration edition that released on PlayStation 4. This edition of the game is jam packed with new content, as well as the award winning base game. The new content features a co-op version of Endurance mode, where people can play together to survive the wilderness. It also features new storyline DLC called Blood Ties – allowing us to explore Croft Manor first the first time in true HD and also in VR (Exclusively to PS4) – and that’s not all! In the special add on ‘Lara’s Nightmare’ we are be able to defend Croft Manor from Zombies in this new action packed adventure.

I was lucky enough to have a family member who owns PSVR and let me try out VR mode. PSVR is quite costly as many pieces of equipment are needed; the headset alone costs £349.99 in the UK ($399.99) and you also need a PlayStation camera for the headset to work which will set you back another £45.00 – so needless to say, I was extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to try this out without having to shell out a lot of cash.

The headset, when finally fitted is quite comfortable, there is a strap at the back for adjusting how tight it is. I was also pleasantly surprised that it’s possible to wear glasses with the PSVR and it will still work fine. The only issue I encountered with the headset is that the lenses can get a little fogged up depending on your surroundings and heated environment. Obviously when wearing the headset, you’re unable to see anything as the headset covers your eyes, for this reason it’s essential to make sure the area in which you are gaming is large enough and clear of obstacles.

I’ve read that it’s possible to use PlaySation Move controllers with the PSVR, however I didn’t have one so I used the DualShock 4 controller instead, and that worked just fine. It turns out there are two different ways of controlling Lara in VR mode; firstly, you can control her as normal, left analogue stick to move, right analogue stick for camera. Secondly you can use a strange “teleportation” mode where you use certain buttons on the controller to warp you to different areas. I found the latter quite confusing to figure out, so I went with the traditional style controls to move around Croft Manor.

It’s well known that using traditional controls whilst wearing the PSVR headset can make a lot of gamers dizzy and nauseous, but for me it wasn’t too bad, I noticed that they had slowed down the speed of which you can move greatly, possibly to counteract any dizziness or motion sickness.

This is where the reality (pun intended) of virtual reality kicks in.

I was standing in Lara’s study in Croft Manor, my view was first person, I could see the safe in front of me. If I turned to my right I could see down the hall, If I turned to the left I could see out of the window, this was insane. I made my way down to the main hallway and really took my time taking in the sights, looking up at the top right of the ‘screen’ I could see the beautiful architecture of the building, the stone balconies, rain pouring in from a hole in the roof, all like it was right there in real life. Wherever I turned my head, the camera would follow – hard to explain, but it was amazing to experience.

The only downsides I experienced with the PSVR were of course the lenses fogging up, which made it difficult to see, and also sometimes the camera wouldn’t track my movements properly and when I would load up the menu it would be at a very high portion of the screen, or an extremely low portion of the screen, although I think some of this may have had something to with the fact that I was using tradition controls to move Lara around, and using the right analogue stick messed the camera up.

Although I found the whole experience interesting, I still wouldn’t be tempted to shell out the £349.99 to be able to have this experience in my living room, however this is just my personal opinion. If you have the opportunity to try out Blood Ties VR mode, definitely try it out, but if not, the normal version is just as satisfying.

Be sure to check out the gallery below!

Rise of the Tomb Raider 20 Year Celebration Collectors Bundle Announced

By on September 26, 2016 | No comments yet

 

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Recently a special collectors bundle for Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration was announced, it will release on October 11th 2016 alongside the standard and limited edition versions. So far this bundle is only available from the Square Enix European Store, priced at £89.99 which is great value for everything that you get in the box:

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration physical game

Replica of Lara’s diary

Replica of Lara’s necklace

Limited edition 20 Year Celebration art book

 12″ Lara Croft statue

Beautiful collectors box

 

As someone who owned this version of the game for XBox One, I would highly guarantee this as a purchase, it will include all DLC previously announced as well as the new Croft Manor/Blood Ties/Lara’s Nightmare and Co-Op Endurance mode, priced at £89.99 this version of the game is a steal! I can’t speak for the artbook, however the replicas are well made and the Lara Croft statue is huge and beautiful.

At the moment this edition is only available from Square Enix Europe, as soon as any news for other regions becomes available, we will let you know.

 

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration Edition Pre-Order bonuses.

By on August 15, 2016 | No comments yet

Tomb Raider Playing Cards

If you are planning on pre-ordering the new 20 Year Celebration Edition of Rise of the Tomb Raider for PS4, and you live in Europe or the US, you may want to consider these great pre-order bonuses coming to stores near you.

GAME UK are offering an exclusive 20 Year Celebration limited edition Tomb Raider playing cards with pre-orders of the game, as you can see these are pretty cool, and likely to be quite rare.

Playstation are also offering a great deal if you pre-order the game through their digital store; when pre-ordering Rise, you will get Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for free. This offer is valid in both Europe and the US only when buying directly from the Playstation store.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celeration edition comes to stores on October 11th 2016, it will include all previously released DLC, Endurance Mode, Baba Yaga and Cold Darkness Awakened, as well as new DLC including Blood Ties – where we will be able to explore Croft Manor in beautiful HD and defend it from zombies in ‘Lara’s Nightmare’ DLC. There will also be Co-op Endurance Mode, enabling us to play with friends. Exlusively to PS4, there will be VR capability to play Blood Ties, be sure to check it out.

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.

Rise of The Tomb Raider — E3 2015

By on June 20, 2015 | 1,217 comments

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It was a big week for Rise of The Tomb Raider. Crystal Dynamics kicked off the E3 campaign with a new gameplay demo at the Microsoft conference. Check out the demos and gallery below!

Rise of The Tomb Raider launches November 10th, 2015. Coming first to Xbox.

Road To E3 – New Rise of The TR Trailer

By on June 1, 2015 | 466 comments

Rise-of-The-TR-Box-Art-Featured

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

Podcast Ep 29 Featured Image

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!

 

 

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