Eurogamer Expo 2012 Round-up – Part Five

Well, it’s been great talking about these wonderful games that I got to play at the Eurogamer Expo, but it’s time to end. There have been so many fantastic games on show that honestly I think my wallet is going to be rather thin by the end of the next couple of months.

Last, but not least, we’ve still got a couple more games to get through. Hit the break to get started.

Tomb Raider

Another reboot! Brilliant. It’s really about time that Tomb Raider got a little bit of the reboot love. It’s safe to say that the original series, which has now been going on since 1996, more than 15 years ago, took a turn with Core Design’s most recent iterations of the game, the series eventually collapsing under the sheer weight of the atrocity that was Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. A little known studio, Crystal Dynamics, took on the series and reinvigorated the Tomb Raider franchise with Tomb Raider: Legend in 2006.

If anything, their 2007 remake of the original game, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, was fantastic. But still, there was still some bad reputation associated with the name. Lara Croft was brought back from the dead for Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider games, but we still needed more. The solution? Reboot. A completely new origin story and tabula rasa for the character of Lara Croft, with some interesting gameplay elements and a great looking new engine to boot.

What We Got to Play

In true starting-from-scratch fashion, the demo starts with a shipwreck, in which we find our new-and-improved younger Lara Croft stranded on some sort of island, awash with all sorts of goodies. Our new Lara is injured, afraid, and alone. A far cry from the Lara Croft we used to know. Though I did not get very far in the level, from what I saw, it’s a great introduction to the skills and things we can do, not just for us, but for Lara as well.

Graphics

Based upon the engine that Crystal Dynamics have been improving since their first Tomb Raider game, this new engine looks fantastic. I’m drawn to compare this game to another popular this-belongs-in-a-museum series, Uncharted, though from the looks of it, this game looks rather more gritty and despondent than the bright and bloom-ridden locations of said game. The environments look fantastic. Dark, rainy and depressing.

Gameplay

The gameplay feels nice and smooth. A lot of thought has gone in to the animations and movement of Lara, though sometimes the reliance on quick-time events feels a little bit more like preparation for things to come rather than solely being part of the tutorial. Nevertheless, some of the learning mechanics of the game are really well done, not only as a way to introduce players to what you can do, but effectively developing Lara Croft as a character as well.

All in all, this is a great new start to the series. Now that Uncharted has hung up its coat, its time for a new Lara Croft to take the throne back.

Tomb Raider will be available in March 2013.

Shorts

Now it’s on to a couple more that I didn’t get to play as much of, but still wanted to give a quick mention.

Air Buccanneers

Some of the old crowd will remember this gem of an Unreal Tournament mod. Now, the game’s going solo, and is currently running an open beta. Three words: Swashbuckling, air-balloon warfare.

Basically, you find yourself on a rickety wooden air balloon, decked out in pirate equipment: Muskets, air mines, a cutlass and a funny voice. Your ship? A wheel, four cannons and enough ropes to keep a hold of you should you stumble and fall, or just want to board another air vessel. Air Buccaneers is a wonderful exercise in absurdity. It’s just plain good fun, and such a unique concept that I’m surprised that they didn’t go solo sooner. The graphics are not the best, but they are sharp and stylized, and get the job done. Air Buccaneers recently got their way on to Steam’s Greenlight program, so once their beta’s done, we’ll be seeing them making their way on to Steam in the near future.

You can play the Air Buccaneers beta now.

Doom 3 BFG edition

I was rather surprised to see this game pop up at the Eurogamer Expo. Apparently there’s a new version coming out in the near future, in 3D no less. From what I played, there seems to be very little added, apart from the 3D aspect and improved, but not spectacular, graphics. If you’re a 3D fanatic, and you’re looking to revisit an old friend, then this is the game for you.

Doom 3, BFG edition is out now.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

One of the more beloved game series amongst us PC gamers, unfortunately I did not have that much time to play it, but from what I did get to observe was a sight to behold. The first game came out way back in 1994, and was a surprisingly new approach, effectively combining numerous game genres in to one.

Fast-forward to this year, and XCOM: Enemy Unknown is making a splash. Developed by Firaxis Games, makers of the wonderful Civilization series, and published by 2K Games, another big name in the industry. What we’ve got is a fantastic-looking new take on the series. The two-actions per turn movement system is wonderfully supportive of the turn-based mechanic that XCOM is known for. The graphics are up to par as well, including the multitudes of fantastic animations that your squad-members perform, and the almost rogue-like nature of the game, especially on the higher difficulties, means that this game is tough and unforgiving.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is out now.

I’m afraid that’s it. A spectacular four days of the Eurogamer Expo, a fantastic selection of games to play. My wallet is not safe.