'Tomb Raider' in VR reveals Lara Croft's height
Some video game franchises are so iconic, no matter how much the main character changes in 20 years, the gameplay experience is still one that is enjoyable for the fans.
Lara Croft has been adventuring for two decades, and along the way, her famous figure has changed over the years, but the action and thrills have remained the same. The latest titles, “Tomb Raider” and “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” have sought to tell the origin story of the confident and strong explorer.
As Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics, and fans all over the world celebrate 20 years of Lara’s adventures, the game developer and publisher decided to offer a little more by adding virtual reality to an updated release of “Rise of the Tomb Raider.”
“Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration” includes the original 2015 game, "Rise of the Tomb Raider," involving Lara’s first tomb raiding experience, and adds a couple of new items for players. Visually, there is a new outfit and gun inspired by “Tomb Raider III,” classic skins for Lara, and more outfits and weapons.
There is a new co-op endurance mode, all the downloadable content, and an ultimate survivor mode for those who really want a challenge. Perhaps the finest addition to the anniversary title is the opportunity to explore Croft Manor through Lara’s eyes.
A new chapter, “Blood Ties,” finds the manor slipping away from Lara’s stewardship. A relative has challenged her claim to the property, and it is up to the adventurer to explore her ancestral home for clues and information to strengthen her hold on the property.
While wandering through Croft Manor alone would be quite the experience, virtual reality with the PlayStation VR headset lets players truly see things from Lara’s perspective. The results are stunning and a little disconcerting at times.
During a Square Enix event in New York City, I donned the PSVR headset and immediately felt intimidated by the details the developers included for the inside of Croft Manor. The perspective is supposed to be what Lara would see if she were walking around, which led to an obvious question.
How tall is Lara Croft?
A representative for Crystal Dynamics who was helping me with the demo said Lara is 5 feet 7 inches tall, which is exactly how tall I am. The visuals felt very appropriate for me, but I wonder if someone who was significantly taller or shorter would be a little weirded out by the perspective.
The manor was dark, spooky, and potentially terrifying. The object of “Blood Ties” is exploration as Lara traverses the huge mansion through its many floors and secrets to find proof she needs to retain Croft Manor.
There is no combat. There are no zombies trying to grab you as you peer into dark rooms, although the fear of such a thing is very tangible.
Balconies and staircases can provide a sense of vertigo. Even though I was standing in the middle of a room when I was playing, there was that inadvertent motion to grab onto to a railing in the game so I could peer over and see what was below.
I knew I was immersed.
Moving around in the manor is done with the DualShock controller rather than the Move controllers. However, looking around in the manor is done with the VR headset. Players never actually leave the confines of the manor, but there are floors above and tunnels below that offer plenty of landscape to explore.
There are nods, Easter Eggs, and outright, full-blown mentions of Lara’s past adventures and the people she’s met in previous games. It is an exploration of her 20 years as one of the foremost archeologist/fortune seekers in video game history.
If you don’t have a VR headset, not to worry. “Blood Ties” can still be enjoyed as a third-person exploration adventure.
If players take the time to see and read everything the manor is trying to hide, the experience can take a couple of hours. Take the time. See everything. It is well worth the experience in virtual reality, but it is also a fantastic journey through time.
Obviously, the teams aren’t done with Lara’s exploring and dodging and shooting. But after 20 years, this is a nice resting point.