No Tomb Raider has made such huge strides away from the series’ core sensibilities. Crystal Dynamics has gone back to the drawing board with this new game and the results are really exciting…
Tomb Raider is pushing all sorts of boundaries, but at its heart it’s still a traditional origin story that will focus on Lara and the whys and hows of her becoming one of the world’s premier badass raiders of tombs.
Global Brand Manager, Karl Stewart, is adamant this new look for Lara will reignite the world’s love for the posh Brit and remind everyone just why she’s one of the world’s most recognised videogame characters.
X360: Why is this an important new direction for Lara and Tomb Raider?
Karl Stewart: At its heart, this Tomb Raider is a classic origins story: this game begins with a new, Lara Croft – a version of the character audiences have not seen before: she 21 years of age, just out of university, searching for adventure on her first real archeological expedition.
The game begins when Lara comes to on the beach of mysterious island after her boat, the Endurance, is destroyed by a terrible storm. The vista shows innumerable wreckages from different eras: all is clearly bizarre and mysterious.
X360: How are you ensuring you convey Lara’s helplessness without making the early levels annoying to play? Are you worried players will misinterpret this for poor game design?
Stewart: In the Crossroads demo we follow a crucial part of Lara’s character arc: she realises she’s not alone, that others have survived the wreck, she retrieves the bow, learns to hunt, sees her friend, Sam, kidnapped and later is forced to kill a human being for the first time.
It’s nail biting stuff as the gamer takes Lara through an increasingly frightening and hostile environment, it’s also a powerful and immersive emotional journey.
X360: What traditional Tomb Raider elements from the previous games remain; was it important to leave them in/remove them?
Stewart: We feel we’ve really kept the essence of Tomb Raider that players have loved in the past – for example there’s plenty of scope for exploration and discovery: though not an open world game by any means, the island Lara finds herself on is full of areas to explore, and secrets to discover, particularly as Lara starts to develop her gear and skill set.
X360: In what ways has reestablishing the Lara Croft character helped to reinvent the gameplay experience for the player?
Stewart: We’ve given her a signature weapon: the bow and arrow, and this simple device opens up all sorts of opportunities for both combat and traversal. We’ve made her smart and resourceful: she looks and hints to the player at interesting, useful objects in the environment.
We’ve given her buddies to motivate her – in Crossroads she’s compelled to move forward to search for, and rescue Sam, and to reunite with Roth, her friend and mentor. We’ve added an gear upgrade system, which we’re not talking about in great depth right now. We’ve created a hub system… It’s been extremely inspiring!
X360: How are you balancing action set-pieces, RPG leveling and exploration of the island; is the gameplay experience entirely removed from previous Tomb Raider games?
Stewart: Whilst we don’t want to go as far as giving a percentage breakdown between the different types of gameplay I will say that the game is currently being balanced, and we know what kind of mixture we have in mind.
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