Copyright 2002

[ January 10th 2002 ]

Tomb Raider Next Generation is, without doubt, this year's most anticipated title, propelling Lara Croft - the most successful video-game character in the history of the industry - onto the Sony Playstation II and PC platforms for what promises to be a highly charged, action packed and digitally re-rendered adventure penned for a five year incubation period.

Rumours surfacing this week add further credence to the vaguely outlined plotline which, although shrouded in mystery, has ricocheted around the video-game circuit like Chinese whispers since Eidos Interactive confirmed Lara Croft would return following her involuntary incarceration in the Temple Of Horus at the end of The Last Revelation.

Lara Croft, framed for a murder she did not commit and pursued by the authorities while escaping from the evil conspirators who seek her doom - vehemently led by the unscrupulous Eckhardt - begins a three-part adventure in gay Paris, where she will be forced to break into the famous Musée du Louvre to action the theft of artwork to further her adventures. The second and newly revealed plotline - still unconfirmed at this time - sees Lara Croft resurrecting her traditional Tomb Raider skills as she embarks on an adventure deep within the bowels of the catacombs rooted beneath the city. Part three re-introduces the schematics of high tech industry as Lara finds her adventures mapped to a mental institution where the first in a series of episodic adventures looks set to conclude.

Core Design have introduced additional playable characters to the Tomb Raider broth including Kurtis Trent - whose path will intertwine with Lara's as they both advance their challenge for beneficial resolution. Adventures involving the new AI character are likely to spawn from Tomb Raider Next Generation in the form of a spin-off video-game series; although no official confirmation has been made.

Core Design will expand the interactivity of Tomb Raider Next Generation by offering downloadable components such as character development and plot details via the web, although the studio dispelled earlier rumors about their internet update strategy by stating that the games themselves will not be made available online.

Tomb Raider Next Generation will also sport more role playing elements in the form of attribute development, which awards more diligent players richer content and improves Lara's skill and dexterity the more she performs specific actions. 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 Lara Croft model has undergone extensive digital surgery and her current 500-polygon skeleton has been shed for a 5,000 polygon external chassis, affording an improved fluid appearance that will provide gamers with a more organic and human feel. Environmental architectures and game-play schematics have been redesigned from the wire frame up with Core Design gearing up to exploit the PS2's huge terrain-based polygon capabilities to render more depth, texture and response to its levels.

Tomb Raider Next Generation - a working title - has initially been slated for a November 2002 release, although we suspect mandatory teasing will see the game commercially available sometime in December. During a visit to the Derbyshire-based studios last year, we noted a Microsoft XBOX Developers Console in Next Gen Mission Control, but to date no official confirmation has been made as to whether this platform will host Tomb Raider. Sony Playstation II and PC platforms are the only confirmed consoles.

Expect a Tomb Raider Next Generation media explosion in the coming months, in the meantime, click HERE for our Tomb Raider Next Generation media-packed offering.

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