G works on the Eidos account at BHPR and has been enthusing about the game for months. As he's now a PR rather than a journo it's sometimes hard to distinguish when he's got this PR hat on or when he's just being enthusiastic. In this case it's definitely the latter.
So the demo was released yesterday and I was quick to download it while finishing up some work. I loaded it up and just stared; I'd be expecting to have to save Lara from the burning inferno of Croft Manor but instead found myself on a small boat drifting on a tropical sea - well okay, it was off the coast of Thailand. Delicate music drifted on the breeze, an amazing score that enhanced the gameplay without being too distracting and it was time for Lady Croft to get her feet wet.
Within seconds Lara was exploring a glorious underwater world and watching sharks but wait, what's that bright piece of stone that stands out from all the other pieces of rock in the vicinity. Yes, it's not all about swimming with the fishes and it's time for Lara to do what she does best.
And yet you find your eye being caught by the subtle movement of the tide, of those two beautifully realistic parrots perching on a rock, so much is happening that the world almost feels organic. And yet your path is kind of obvious, bright rocks and handhelds beckon Lara towards an ancient temple with a massive statue of Shiva and Kali.
Lara's moves are even more graceful than they were in Anniversary, she can shimmy up rock faces, jump across poles and does it all so beautifully. She also has a couple of new moves and can now kick and stomp on ants but the real focus is on the puzzle elements and shooting rare animals, like a pair of slightly stupid tigers.
Unfortunately the demo doesn't contain any proper cutscenes so, aside from the opening paragraph, you really have no clue why Lara is in Thailand. However by the end of the demo you really don't care so much, the game looks so amazingly beautiful that you're soon pulled in, jaw brushing the floor as Lara swims, vaults and shoots her way through the unknown jungles of Thailand. I really can't wait to see if the rest of the game is this polished when it's released later this month.