Copyright 2007

[ December 29th 2007 ]

Eric Lindstrom continues to provide further information on the technical boundaries Crystal Dynamics are attempting to surpass in Tomb Raider Underworld. Speaking about a newly rendered Lara Croft model, Lindstrom expands further on his hybrid lighting model and how Underworld will be the best looking Tomb Raider game to date.

"The model for Lara Croft is a showcase of art and technology that we are very proud of." Lindstrom tells PLAY magazine. "She has more than a dozen layers that determine her skin tone and texture, how light reflects or scatters, how shadows form etc.

"We use these layers to not only make Lara look more amazing than ever, but we manipulate them in various ways to make her appear wet, sweaty, dirty, muddy and more. Lara will get wet and gradually dry off; she will get dirty or muddy depending on her environment, but she can also wash herself clean by jumping into water or standing in the rain."

Lara Croft's main adversary in Tomb Raider Underworld is her immersive and massive environment, and we see an unprecedented level of interactivity stapled to realistic weather effects which Crystal Dynamics hopes will place the player right there next to Lara Croft. Hybrid lightening is responsible for this.

"Relying heavily on real dynamic lights as many games are currently doing makes environments look stark and flat, with a lot of unrealistic hard edges. We developed a hybrid lighting model that combines dynamic lights with carefully created light maps to make our world look stunning in ways that none of the available methods could achieve alone."

Another new feature to appear in Tomb Raider Underworld is multi usage for pickups and items scored from deceased adversaries. Lara can acquire a staff from a fallen enemy and then either use the item as part of a melee routine, or for aid when scaling a rock or swinging from an outcropping. This makes the contents of Lara's inventory more durable and assists Crystal Dynamics in crafting smarter puzzles.

As in previous games, puzzles are once again the building blocks of Tomb Raider Underworld, and Crystal Dynamics have spared no expense in crafting monstrous, sometimes level-sized set pieces set to challenge the player. Difficulty can also be tailored, with players being given an option to disable hints, or just receive friendly pointers for those head-scratching moments.

The fun stuff starts next week when Eidos returns from Christmas break to officially unveil the next incarnation of Lara Croft and her globe-trotting adventures. Stay tuned for a veritable bouquet of media and info as we embark on a brand new Lara Croft adventure.

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