Forget about the perfect athlete with impossible anatomy. This Lara Croft is human, she bleeds and suffers a whole lot. But she's decided to fight for survival. The brand new
Tomb Raider will be released for PS3 and 360 in a yet to be announced date but, until it arrives, we can tell you about all the details in this EPIC adventure.
GET USED to see fear and pain in Lara's face. Her expresions and even the camera movements have been generated using motion capture.
Chest: Ninety-Five, Waist: Fifty-five, Hips: Eighty Five. Those were Lara's "official" measures when the classic Tomb Raider was released in 1996. By then, that adventure astonished PlayStation and Saturn users because of its open nature, its well-measured mixture of puzzles, shooting and platforming... but mainly because of the main character: she was an aristocrat, with an awesome body, she spoke several languages and you can bet that Jackie Chan would like to share some of her ability to perform acrobatics. The arrival of such a character was a revolution in a scene which was used to nice jumping plumbers or supersonic hedgehogs. But years have passed and the sensation of wear-off, of abusing the formula "hot girl with guns" has become quite evident. The guys at Eidos, responsible of the franchise, have tried several makeovers: making a more sinister Lara, using flashbacks to show her first adventures... But now they have decided to renew from bottom up. The main story, development and even the main character will re-start from scratch in the next game, which will be called just Tomb Raider.
WE HAVE TRAVELLED TO SAN FRANCISCO, to the headquarters of Crystal Dynamics, creators of this new adventure. Just about a dozen of journalists from all over the world were allowed to witness, in the most absolute secrecy, the details of the new title. Karl Stewart, the franchise's director, took us on a trip around the studios and told us about their intentions. "As time went by, Lara was becoming a cartoon, somebody too unrealistic. The one we are crafting right now is human, more vulnerable", he taught us. "She's going to suffer from terrible wounds, both physical and emotional". To break up completely with the old games, the new Lara Croft is just a teenage just out of the University. Her academic past has made her become a rational and analitic young lady, but with a passion for adventure and archeology. On her first expedition, she enroles in a ship called Endurance, which sinks next to an island close to the coast of Japan. From among all the crew in the ship, only she seems to have survived. ¿Didn't you want action, Lara? ¡Have two cups!
THE FIRST MISSION we could witness, in fact, couldn't be more perplexing: After the shipwreck, Lara wakes up tied up and hanging upside down in a dark cave, having no idea about how she got to that situation. The first thing is getting out of there. The solution to this task already shows the new spirit of this game: to release her from her captivity: we have to hurt Lara. Making her swing, we have to make her approach a torch to put her on fire. That way, her ties will burn and she will be released, but at the same time she gets burn as well. You see: you have to make her have a bad time to get out of the situation. But the problems haven't ended. Just after getting released, Lara falls over a bar of iron which punctures her in her side. With the face deformed by the pain, the young girl has to put it out rudely. We help her pressing a button as quickly as possible, in one of the common activities in this game: quick time events. While we are looking for an exit to the game we find an intriguing altar...
HELPING HANDS and the game interface will be kept to a minimum, even though the game will show which can be burnt or which buttons to press in Quicktime events.
... which makes something clear: there's somebody else in the island and doesn't seem to have good intentions. Everything points that Lara was going to be part of some kind of ritual by somebody whose noises can be heard from the deepest end of the cave...
PUZZLES have the main role in the next section. We have to use ramps, the water current or a rudimentary lift to carry some boxes set in fire to a small magazine and make it explode, which leaves a clear path to advance... but also causes the cave to collapse. Desperate while land and stones fall all around her, Lara tries to find a hole to escape. There it is, a little hole upwards shows light from the outside. In this moment a distressing quicktime event begins, in which we have to press the right buttons for Lara to get to salvation. While we keep advancing, the screens gets filled with mud to the point we can barely see anything, the music goes crescendo and Lara shouts agonicly until we... get out of the cave! Then, the gasping heroine looks at the landscape which unfolds in front of her: a huge island plagued with wrecked ships and lush jungles. Now the true adventure begins.
THE MAIN GAMEPLAY wants to break away from a fixed system of levels as found in the previous installments of the franchise. We will always be on the island, but from the mian hub we able to climb, jump or investigate to find new areas. Then, will this game be some kind of sand box? "This isn't a Grand Theft Auto or an Assassin's Creed of sorts", makes clear Stewart, "but we want to suggest the idea that Lara is in an open environment". In fact, at the beginning of the adventure, Lara will have little abilities and, therefore, we won't be able to advance in most directions, but step by step we will be gathering tools and enhacing Lara's abilities so there will be more to explore. To make us aquainted to the new location, Karl show us another mission: several days after what we just seen, Lara finds Conrad Roth alive. Conrad Roth is the expedition leader, and is considered some kind of a menthor by Lara ...
THE CENTRAL area in the island will serve as the main headquarters. In the
main camp [up] we'll be able to "buy" abilities, make new tools or get back
to missions we have already finished. The remaining of this area will be used to climb or search for new missions.
"- I can't bear this - I'm not that kind of Croft.- Yes, you are, but you just haven't found out!"
Roth cheers up Lara.
... Roth is an old dog who ain't afraid of challenge. He's always up to a new adventure. He has been left wounded after a fight with a group of wolves, so he commands Lara to go finding a med-kit and a transmitter he lost in a nearby cave. To get to that new zone, Lara has to make good use of her abilities. First we have to do some jumping. This time our heroine won't just "stick" magically to the closest ledge, but we'll have to maneuver while she's jumping. Althought it may seem more complicated than in previous installments, this will serve us well to modify our trajectory mid-jump to reach other zones.
THE SURVIVAL INSTICT will be other trick under Ms. Croft's sleeve. By pressing a button we'll activate a special view which will put a different colour to "interesting" elements in the environment: the background and non relevant objects will be shown in shades of grey and the clues in yellow. That way we'll be able to follow traces normally invisible to the eye, for example the footprints of the wolves which will lead us to where they have left the med-kit. When we reach that zone, one of those animals attacks us. This time Lara isn't that super-archeologist who can kill ...
PUZZLES will be more complex than in previous installments. They won't be just about observing the environment, but about thinking about how water and fire interact, the importance of gravity, explosives...
THE CAMERA will use innovative framings to add to the sensations of anguish or claustrophobia. To its aid, a renewed graphic engine Crystal Engine, used in TR Legend.
"I'm so sorry, but this was a mere matter of survival: it was either you or me"
Lara apologizes at the first wolf she kills
... dinosaurs without loosing her hairdo, so the fight with the wolf is dirty and violent. Lara, terrified, finishes her adversary with a stroke of luck. That duel is also resolved using quicktime events, but Karl has told us that we'll also have "common" fights and shooting scenes, in which we'll have to aim ourselves. For the moment, only a few weapons have been officially confirmed: a bow and arrows, a pistol, and a pick we'll be able to use to climb and defend ourselves. As we advance in the game we'll discover new weapons and possibilities for the girl.
LARA WILL LEARN step by step and that will show in her emotions. It's somewhat shoking to witness how the yesteryear's unbreakable Lara is now just a girl which shows terror and doubt about what's to come and even sometimes talks to herself to convince herself that's she'll be able to keep advancing. She get's afraid, looks around, touches the walls to lean on... "Yesteryear's Lara didn't seem to care about what..."
ROTH is this old adventurer. He'll we some kind of a menthor for Lara, but she'll have to
help him as well to get away
from this one!