Copyright 2001

[ February 16th 2001 ]

With the release of the Chronicles Level Editor concluding the current direction of Eidos Interactive's Tomb Raider series, Core Design have exposed their intentions for the Next Generation of Tomb Raider titles during a press release earlier this week. The story behind Tomb Raider Next Generation begins in Paris, where Lara arrives only to be framed for a crime she did not commit, and begins a hasty retreat through the back streets of Paris pursued by the authorities while attempting to piece together a puzzle surrounding the conspirators who seek her doom.

Adapting to a more adult environment, Lara's traditional tomb-hunting skills will be rendered redundant in favour of a more self-supporting role gearing towards basic survival behaviour, adding more realistic elements to the game. She will be forced to break into the famous Musée du Louvre in Paris to action the theft of some rare art before continuing her adventure though Paris.

The introductory episode of Tomb Raider will see four acts played out, the first being Lara's inception into the streets of Paris while being chased by the authorities and shadowy conspirators. Act two will load heavy action into Lara's environment as she begins a counteroffensive against her pursurers. Act three and four will sport more familiar challenges like puzzle solving, exploration and action die-hard Tomb Raider fans will be familiar with, while at the same time priming a new and exciting environment rich for the receipt of gamers playing Tomb Raider for the first time.

Throughout her adventures, Lara will share her world with Curtis, Core's new AI character whose path is mapped to intertwine with Lara's as they both advance their challenge to an ultimate similar goal. Gamers will also be given the opportunity of controlling Curtis on separate adventures within Next Generation, and speculation has suggested that Core may ultimately develop the character and even create a related game for unique adventures away from Next Gen.

Core Design's current annual Tomb Raider release strategy, which has come under much criticism due to the lack of marked improvements from rolling out each new title while it's predecessor still lay fresh in the minds of it's players, will be extinguished in preference of a new episodic based adventure. The introduction of downloadable conponents for Next Generation will broaden the interactivity allowing more diverse adventures and ease of addition without having to release constant updates.

Eager to dispel rumours about the strategy behind internet updates, Core Design confirmed that users will be able to download various elements to complement their existing adventures, such as character and plot detail, but stated that the games themselves will not be made available online. Core Design also stressed that their next Tomb Raider game will be a marked departure from The Last Revelation and their latest Lara Croft offering Tomb Raider Chronicles, electing for a more adult orientated adventure sporting light RPG elements in the form of attribute development.

Rather than allowing players to tweak the game's characters to their liking, certain actions - such as running and sprinting - will automatically become more effective the more a player performs them. This allows Core to include areas in the game that are accessible only by characters of a certain proficiency level.

The roll playing elements introduced to Tomb Raider will see more diligent players rewarded for their exploration with extra sections catering for their thirst for entirety, while providing a different path for players out to complete the game as quickly as possible.

Lara Croft herself has undergone extensive rendering surgery, sporting 5000 smoother polygons and shedding her existing 500 polygon skeleton. Character details is paramount for Core who have rebuilt Lara with greater attention to detail, adopting a more fluid appearance which will provide gamers with a more organic and human feel to an otherwise rigid character.

Environmental schematics and game play architectures have been redesigned from the wire frame up with Core aiming to utilise the PS2's huge terrain-based polygon capabilities to render more depth, texture and response to it's levels. Early screen shots indicate a dramatic improvement over existing titles. Initially planned for a fourth quarter 2001 release, funding and economic pressures, as well as uncertainty surrounding the console market, forced Eidos to rethink it's release strategy, opting for a first quarter 2002 release date. Tomb Raider Next Generation will be exclusively aimed for Playstation 2, X-box and PC users.

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