Copyright 2000 www.tombraiderchronicles.com
[ October 15th 2000 ]
thought Lara was done for in The Last Revelation.
The Temple of Horus came crashing down, and poor
Lara disappeared from view, apparently buried
alive. The intrepid and daring adventuress had
finally met her match, perishing - somewhat fittingly
- in a tomb of her own making. Right? Well, maybe.
One of the rules of soap operas and comic books
is, "They're not dead until you've seen the body."
And though we've certainly seen a lot of her over
the years, the story may not be over yet. Tomb
Raider: Chronicles will give Lara aficionados
one last fling with the heroine while filling
in some gaps--and answering some other questions
players have had about her past.
of Chronicles is that Lara's friends have gathered,
in light of her supposed death, to have a memorial
in her honor. Sounds kind of boring--watching
a bunch of characters from Lara's past chatting
around a fireplace doesn't hold a lot of action
potential. Never fear; there will be plenty of
action, Tomb Raider style. Gamers will be able
to play as adult Lara through three environments
- Rome, a German U-boat base, and a high-tech
city - and as young Lara in a forest-like area.
Producer Mike Schmitt indicated that these four
episodes will tie together to give players details
about Lara's life, and will mesh with the existing
story as well, so players will learn more about
Lara than previous games have revealed. In their
journey through Lara's past, players will have
access to more moves and gear.
has apparently been studying gymnastics; she'll
be able to do an Olympics-caliber dismount off
of certain horizontal bars. She'll also take a
page from the Wallendas with the ability to do
a bit of tightrope walking. The tightrope walking
will take a bit of practice, however, as Lara
has a tendency to sway from side to side. Players
will be able to correct her swaying by using the
left and right arrow keys. Lara will now be able
to climb pipes and columns, as well as yank down
tiles to get up into the ceiling and do a bit
of sneaking about. As for the new gear, Lara will
be sporting both a shiny black catsuit with Matrix-like
sunglasses and a mouth bead, as well as a winter
camo outfit, complete with merchant-marine beanie.
Lara will also come fully equipped with a slew
of new animations.
how in the past she'd "search" a closet or cabinet
by walking up, scooping the floor, and having
the item magically appear in her inventory? Well,
now Lara does the full search technique, and her
method varies depending on where she's searching.
For freestanding shelves, she'll methodically
check every shelf; she'll root through drawers
in filing cabinets; and for cabinets, she'll open
the doors and have a peek inside. Also, Lara will
have to jimmy open some doors - she'll actually
whip out a crowbar and pry the thing away from
the frame in a nicely animated sequence.
a cue from Thief, Lara will be required to use
stealth to proceed through some areas, while in
others, being sneaky will make her job much easier.
In one instance we were shown, a security guard
was sleeping at his desk, and Lara needed to obtain
an item off that desk. If she had gone in with
guns blazing, sure, the guard would have been
taken care of, but the alarm would have been sounded--leading
to all kinds of complications Lara didn't need.
Instead, by sneaking up without disturbing the
guard, Lara obtained the item, and was able to
go on about her business.
Raider: Chronicles will, at long last, give fans
the tool they need to create adventures for Lara.
Eidos is putting the final touches on the Tomb
Raider level editor, used by Core to design all
of Lara's adventures over the years. Getting the
editor into a user-friendly format hasn't been
without its difficulties, however. Since the tool
was originally designed for use over a network,
it's been a task in itself to get it working as
a single-system application. In addition, since
it was an internal tool, a number of long-standing
"issues"--that Core designers learned to work
around--had to be found and eliminated, which
proved to be a time-consuming project.
we viewed was stable and solid, though, which
means fans of the game will have a nice foundation
to build their Lara episodes with. We sat down
with lead artist Gary La Rochelle and senior artist
Rebecca Shearin, and they walked us through the
creation of an episode. Each map begins life as
a "project," which is a blank slate. The map-creation
system is block based, which will come as no surprise
to anyone who has played a lot of Tomb Raider.
Every room/area begins life as a box 18 blocks
long by 18 blocks wide by 5 blocks high. Individual
blocks also have variable heights; there are four
possible elevations for every block. (For the
tech heads out there, blocks are 64 pixels square,
with 16-pixel increments.) Larger areas are created
by combining blocks in any configuration and cutting
holes in them for doors--or by knocking out the
the room is in progress, gamers will have a whole
host of features to choose from to modify the
area to their hearts' content. For instance, the
angled surfaces seen in the game are made by changing
a block's properties. One nice feature is the
"random surface" tool, which has the editor jumble
up an area somewhat randomly to simulate broken
floor or "natural" ground, and it works well.
Players can apply colored lighting using a 24-bit
palette, with the ability to select the exact
shade of any light. Lighting will have a number
of different formats, including cone, radius,
or "sun" lighting, which illuminates everything
in an area. And each area has its own ambient
light setting. One thing fans will enjoy playing
with is the extensive "trigger" system, which
causes events to happen when Lara crosses a certain
point or performs a certain action.
types have been built into the engine, and can
cause a surprising number of results--from cueing
music clips or WAV files to spawning enemies to
making a boulder roll down an incline. Anyone
familiar with Tomb Raider has seen the remote
camera sequences that, say, show a door opening
when you hit a button. Now you will be able to
create your own camera sequences using triggers,
and the number of variations that are possible
with the current system will make for some very
will come with an extensive tutorial on the game
CD--La Rochelle estimated the bulk of it at 80
to 90 pages. And it'll be printable in PDF format,
so get those printers ready. There will also be
six levels from The Last Revelation--along with
texture sets from just about every Tomb Raider
title in the past--for players to cut their teeth
on. And Shearin also noted that in the future,
users will be able to change the game up by adding
their own models, sounds, textures, and objects.
capability won't be built into the editor, but
she doesn't seem to think it'll take fans very
long to figure out how to do it. One thing that
surprised us about the editor is that there wasn't
a "one-click test" in it--that is, you currently
can't just click "test this level," have it compile
the current project, and then open the game with
the level loaded. Considering the accessibility
and ease of use of the rest of the editor, this
omission seemed a bit odd, but we're hoping a
feature like this makes it into the final game.
Tomb Raider: Chronicles is slated for a mid-November
release, and we're looking forward to taking Lara
through one last adventure. We're also looking
forward to creating a few of our own.
where did we put that boulder ramp...