Modern Warfare 3 was always going to be a tough act to follow, but Crystal Dynamics' live demo did a fantastic job of keeping it's audience captivated, starting as it did with Lara waking from a ship wreck to find herself, well, captive. Tied upside-down from the roof, a nearby fire provides our heroine with a handy escape route, and she sets about swinging herself towards it in order to burn the rope binding her.
Successfully freeing herself from the trap, Lara is seen plummeting into a pile of debris below, and when she is forced to tear a particularly sharp shard of wood from her thigh, it quickly becomes apparent that Crystal Dynamics aren't holding back on the gruesome.
It has to be said that they aren't holding back on the pretty either, and I'm not just talking about Lara herself. The torch she lights flickers and spits convincingly, licking the roof of the enclosed and waterlogged cave she is forced to navigate. It truly is a sight to behold, and we can only hope this impressive tech doesn't get lost in amongst a diluted and deflating experience a la Alone in the Dark.
Quick to reassure us this isn't the case, Tomb Raider demonstrates some of the platforming we've come to expect from the series, but which has been revamped so as to appear more organic. Lara leaps between static and not-so-static structures assuredly, with little clumsiness to suggest that this won't be a heck of a lot of fun. Her new 'survival instincts' highlight objects that can be used to escape from certain areas, bleeding the colour away from the backdrop and bringing items of interest forward.
The 'survival horror' aspect of Lara's rebirth has been much discussed as of late, and we get a small taste of some of the more frightening moments sure to disturb our sleep in the form of a deranged madman chasing our protagonist through the dark, dank cave system. It's a bolt from the blue and all the more startling for it. Shortly before Lara's escape, she is once again faced with a human predator, and barely manages to scramble free of the rubble that has begun to fall in huge chunks.
The demo ends as Lara breaks free of the caves, and allows us to glimpse the wreckage of the ship and the destruction it has caused. All in all, it was an incredibly impressive demo, and one that has us excited for Crystal Dynamics' reinvention of Lara's origin story, and all of the gruesome, frightening, beautiful action that is sure to come with it.