Copyright 2000 IGN
[ August 24th 2000 ]
anything like me, you've probably greeted the
news of the latest installment in the Tomb Raider
series with the same enthusiasm you spent getting
excited about Highlander 3 or the next Eddie Murphy
vehicle. But perhaps we shouldn't be so quick
to dismiss this fifth variation on the Tomb Raider
theme. The latest version of Tomb Raider will
feature a host of improvements as well as a versatile
level creator tool. We took a trip down to Eidos
to talk with Adrian Smith, Director at Core and
all-around nice guy.
Tomb Raider might seem "a little bit strange"
given that Eidos killed Lara in the end of the
last installment. I'll pause here to give you
time to gasp in disbelief. For some strange reason,
Lara's supposed death is one of the best-kept
secrets in the gaming industry. Sure, her body
was never found, but that doesn't prove anything.
The "death" is meant to allow the development
team to make a clean break with today's current
platforms and begin focusing on next-generation
consoles (they count the PC in that category).
But the death of the lead character won't interfere
in any way with this continuation of her story.
And it's not accomplished with a "the-spider-bite-merely-put-her-into-a-state-of-suspended-animation"
game starts at Lara's funeral (but since there's
no body, I guess we should call it a memorial
service). It's a "typical British day" complete
with all the misery and rain you'd expect. Characters
from out of Lara's past convene around her gravesite
-- Jean Yves, Winston, Pierre and Father Dunstan.
After the service, some of the characters retire
to stately Croft manor. As they sit and reminisce
about Lara, they recall to mind four previously
unrelated adventures. It's sort of like those
pastiche episodes of the Golden Girls, where Bea
Arthur and Betty White sit around and say "Do
you remember…?" and you hear that harp glissando
and the screen gets all wavy. But unlike the Golden
Girls, Tomb Raider: Chronicles' flashback sequences
are entirely original.
concept allows for four very different types of
games in an episodic format. Adrian refers to
it as "the definitive collection of what's been
good in all the previous titles." The first adventure
takes place in Rome and is designed to get people
"comfy" with the game. It's a very traditional
or "classic" Tomb Raider level so it shouldn't
offer too much in the way of surprises. Lara will
also have to travel to an abandoned submarine
base in Russia. The area has been taken over by
the army and the mafia. Lara's exploits in this
area will be much more focused on action. You
know, big guns, two-fisted kind of action. As
an added bonus, Lara will sport a new SAS outfit.
A haunted castle in Ireland provides the backdrop
for Lara's sweet sixteen party.
are no guns on this level; you'll just have to
dodge and outrun the various ghosts, goblins and
ghouls that populate this level. The final level
takes place in a hi-tech office building. Lara
will be decked out in a "Matrix-style catsuit"
complete with headset. Your companion, ZIP, will
guide you through the various traps and metal
detectors to be found within. Adrian says that
Chronicles is the biggest change to the game engine
we’ve ever done on the PC. He freely admits that,
in the past, the console versions of TR have had
some advantages over their PC step-cousin. This
time around though you can expect a huge graphical
improvement with loads of detail and objects.
As you can tell by the screenshots, there's a
lot more here to look at than in previous TR installments.
also a lot more that Lara can do here. On the
action side, she'll now be able to walk tightropes
(bringing with it the fear that they'll be combined
into our beloved jumping puzzles). She'll also
swing on suspended bars and use a grappling hook
gun. The addition of a "search" option allows
Lara to rifle through files and drawers looking
for various items. Lara will also have access
to a sniper rifle and some new hand-to-hand combat
options. She can sneak up behind enemies and disable
them with cosh or chloroform. And since enemies
respond to sound now, you'll have to be especially
careful when you sneak up on them.
spotting has also been tweaked to allow enemies
to take cover behind certain objects in the environment.
One of the really exciting features that's being
added is the level editor. Adrian describes it
as "sort of a 'thank you' from us" for all the
Tomb Raider fans out there. The team has spent
a whole year organizing and documenting all the
development tools just for your sake.
also be including a tutorial and some examples.
Personally, I wouldn't have bothered to do something
that nice for you, but I'm not really the giving
type. In any case, budding world builders will
soon be able to place Lara in almost any situation
they can imagine. Come now, let's keep it clean
for the kids, shall we? Even with all the new
additions, Adrian sees this installment of Tomb
Raider as a way of "getting back to the traditional
values" of the series.
versions of the game will feature a much darker,
X-Files-esque kind of atmosphere. Each of the
new titles will be self-contained but reveal part
of a larger puzzle that you'll only piece together
by buying all of the new games and playing them
through. But let's not get ahead of ourselves;
we've still got one more Tomb Raid left before
the team at Core launches into their new direction.
Get it while you can.