What Games Are published an interesting post on the last TR game (see here) that argued that players do not have an emotional connection to the player character but rather project themselves on the player character. Hence, game developers should not spend too much time scripting the player character but rather those with which he interacts. Having played TR I beg to differ.
From my point of view the new TR is not so much a game as it is an interactive movie (IAM), not the kind mentioned on wikipedia, a category that will establish itself next to casual and hardcore games in the future. IAMs enable developers to tell stories in more depth and get players more involved than in a traditional movie, however it does not engross players in the same way a hardcore game (say Halo) would with a great multiplayer mode.
For example, the new TR game could just as well have been released as a movie, however Ms. Croft would have to run through the same developments she made in over 10 hours of game time in less than 2 hours of film time and it would have been a completly passive experience. As a game TR allowed players to become active observers better understanding the development of Ms. Croft since they were there and lived through it together.
As I see this as a completely new field of games some questions remain to be answered.
What can we expect of the future for IAMs?
I would guess that we will see more coauthorship of games by game developers and Hollywood. Professional story writers will come into games earlier and earlier (for an example see this German article on Susan O'Connor and TR) and the script will be written before the levels are designed.
Who will buy them?
Most probably singles that do not want to go to a movie alone/under the week and potentially this could be another entry point for female gamers to console games away from casual browers games such as Farmville.
What does this mean for casual and hardcore games?
Casual games will stay the same whereas hardcore games will probably become more dependent on a great multiplayer experience.
What would I want to see?
Games as a series - shorter playtime but more frequent sequels. Imagine the Walking Dead not only being a TV show but being able to play short sequences out of it.
Hence, I think TR is a first glimpse into a more cinematic gaming experience from the story telling side and can open up several interesting venues for development. Differing views are more than welcome.