Tomb Raider 2005 Magazine Chronicles
Source: PSM, Issue 97, May 2005
Source: PLay Magazine, June 2005, Article by Dave Halverson
So will Crystal Dynamics help cure Lara of her man-eating ways? Eidos certainly hopes so, because a financial disappointment would mean a big hit to the companys bottom line. Eidos is not unaware of this, which is perhaps why Chip Blundell, vice president of brand management for Eidos, seems a bit nervous when we sit down to talk with him.
We cant afford not to make a great game, he tells us. One of the first things the team did was sit down and discuss the brand values of Tomb Raider. It turns out that Tomb Raider as a franchise stands for a lot of things, many of which are fairly standard for action games (entertainment, action, intelligence in problem solving). However, there are values that actually help distinguish Lara from other action heroesspecifically, tomb raiding, gunplay, and travel to exotic locales. But the most important thing they realized, as Blundell puts it, is that Its not our brand. What he means is that Lara actually belongs to gamers. What do gamers want? Gamers want a return to those things that made Lara unique.
So Crystal is going back to the franchises roots. Though Angel of Darkness was originally supposed to be the first installment of a new Lara trilogy, that story line has been scrapped and the team is starting over. The screens that have been released so far for Legend look much less gothic than Angel of Darkness does. As you can see here, Lara is back in her natural habitatclambering through remote locations and raiding those tombs shes made so famous. And one of the most immediate changes gamers should notice about Legend is to the control scheme, which is not surprising since Angel of Darkness was criticized for being, well, atrocious. What we do with Lara needs to be done better than other third-person action games, says Blundell. And if that means the control scheme needs a complete overhaul, then that is what the team will do.
The story line is being kept under wraps for the time being, but the action component is going to be increased, which means the overall pace of the game should pick up as a result. And given the core values of the brand (well, that and the screenshots on this page), we will go out on a limb and predict that adventuring in tombs will comprise at least a portion of the action. As for any other details, youll have to wait with everyone else to see what Crystaland Larahave in store.
Frankly, however, the plot is of secondary import in most gamers minds. What they really want to know is if Lara will be fun to be with again. Because, for better or for worse, that is something no amount of brand managing can disguise. <<
Pub. Eidos Dev. Crystal Dynamics Release Q1 2006
Make Me Over
One of the first things Eidos did was give Lara a makeover, providing wardrobe, hairstyle, and accessory updates. The cosmetic changes aside (a V neck has been added to the shirt, the shorts are cut a bit higher on the leg), the most significant change is to the type of gun Lara has holstered on her supple thighs. Rather than the Desert Eagles she has used in previous Tomb Raiders, shes now sporting a pair of 9mm pistols instead.
Why the switch? Well, were theorizing that Lara was just tired of carrying those heavy cannons around. Desert Eagles are pretty unwieldy, weighing in at almost four pounds each. The smaller-caliber gun, on the other hand, is much lightera fully loaded standard Glock, for example, weighs less than two pounds. And its still plenty powerful9mm pistols are the standard-issue gun for a majority of law enforcement officers.
Source: : the Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, June, 2005
First, the important part. Having seen the new Tomb Raider in action, we reckon all the talk about Lara's breat reduction might've been a bit premature. Okay, she does seem more realistic, but only in a 'Lindsday Lohan's acrobatic older sister' kind of way. Look past the modest v-neck jumper: she's definetely still stacked. And with that shameful observation, it's on the actual game. Which - thanks all that's good and true - looks magic. Seriously, we're talking 'coming back from 3-0 down against AC Milan'magic.
What's abundantly clear is that Legend is exactly the kind of adventuretainment that made Croft famous in the first place. We've seen two key sections, the first of which is an Aztec-type environment with LC flipping, sliding and rolling around the crumbling architecture while dodging bullets. (Hey, it's a tomb, she's raiding it...) Lara's movement is incredibly natural and athletic. Even without picking up the controller, you can tell it's going to be a vast improvement on Angel of Darkness.
For starters, she doesn't walk like her kneecaps have been smashed with a tyre iron.
You Go Girl
So more gymnastic. But Lara's all about the ass-kicking, too. And again, this looks aces in Legend - particularly because the lock-on when she fires her twin pistols seems nice and snappy. We've also seen Lara hosing down bad guys with a fixed machine gun and launching shoulder-mounted rockets. With grenades and all kinds of other flash gadgets in her hot-pant pockets, this is comfortably the most high-tech Tomb Raider yet. That's even more obvious from the second section, which has Lara bounding around the rain-battered rooftops of a far Eastern city. Cooler still, she hops onto a futuristic motorbike and jumps between skyscrappers.
Exact plot details are still closely guarded, but according to Lara's new developer there categorically won't be any of that'on the run from the law' bullshit. Tomb Raider: Legend is a balls-out bloackbuster. Well, not exactly balls-out, that would be weird...But we do know she's searching for a valuable English artefact, pursued by forced led by an old nemesis supposedly killed in a previous game. We assume it's Werner Von Croy, but only based on five minutes spent hammering Google."
Source: : Official UK Playstation 2 Magazine, July 2005
The basics: Legend is a back-to-the-catacombs re-envisioning of Lara Crofts musty franchise. Eidos jumpstarted the series by handing it over to developer Crystal Dynamics, which hired Croft creator Toby Gard to lend a hand. Its nice to see a group of people who take Lara and Tomb Raider so seriously, Gard says.
How was it? After six games that failed to evolve Lady Crofts clunky, prehistoric control scheme, she finally moves like a 21st-century game hero. Think Prince of PersiaCroft soars from ledge to ledge and swings from pole to pole with the greatest of ease. Laras leaps feel a little more user-friendly, too. As long as Lara lands near a ledge or pole, shell extend her arms and latch on automaticallyeven if youre not lined up perfectly. Slip off a cliff and shell save herself with a last-second grab, thus saving you from lots of cheap-death frustration.
Thats not to say death doesnt surround her. We saw halls crammed with spinning-blade traps and other nasty surprises. Fortunately, Lara comes with a new grappler that makes swinging over spike-filled chasms easy. The gizmo factors into the games newly streamlined puzzles, too. She uses the grapple, for instance, to haul over a raft and pull her way across a subterranean river. For the first time in years, the series feels back on track.
Source: : the Electronic Gaming Monthly, August, 2005 by Crispin Boyer
It's no secret that after a string of disappointing titles and a hight-profile film sequel that flamed out at the box office, Lara Croft has her work cut out for her trying to win back the hearts of her once-massive fanbase. However, with the franchise now in the able hands of Crystal Dynamics, Eidos is hoping that Tomb Raider: Legend will be a new start for the series.
"What we wanted to do with Tomb Raider is get back to the roots, back to what the character was about to begin with," comments producer Morgan Gray. "[We wanted to] get her off the abandoned streets of Paris and back into the tombs, back to the exotic locales, back where she belongs."
Recently, we got a chance to see a playable demo of the game in action, and were pleasantly surprised with the game's progress so far. It's apparent that Crystal Dynamics knows exactly where Tomb Raider went wrong, and has set about righting the ship by basically restarting the series from scratch.
"This is 100 percent new code base. Having moved the franchise over to Crystal Dynamics, there is no aspect of previous code that's in [the game]," reveals Gray. In terms of story, it's also a new beginning. "We're sticking to the Lara legacy and her nythos," he continues, "but this is not in any of the timelines of the previous games. This is a completely new storyline kick-off."
Watching the game in action, it looks as though the two major flaws that have dogged Tomb Raider since its inception are being addressed: frustrating puzzles. By taking a little apparent inspiration from Prince of Persia, Crystal has recast Tomb Raider's gameplay and level designs into a more intuitive package.
"Most of our puzzles revolve around physics, Lara's weight, and applying force. Basically, [it's] realistic resolutions to the problems - getting away from random pulleys, switches, and pushing gigantic blocks," observes Gray.
So, much as in Prince of Persia, you'll usually be able to divine the solution to your problem by observing and interacting with the environment. In order to reach a high doorway, Lara can swing into a pillar to topple it (all objects in the game are subject to real physics) and then climb the rubble to her goal. This is made easier by one of her new gadgets, a magnetic grappling hook that can attach to metallic objects in the levels.
Speaking of gadgets, Lara's still equipped with her two most popular gadgets....meaning her dual pistols, pervert. Thankfully, the previously erratic targeting has been replaced by a new auto-lock mechanic that allows for taking down multiple adversaries at once. After you lock on to the main target, the AI will sense secondary targets, which will be assigned a face button icon onscreen.
Platforming has also been reinvinted, much to the relief of gamers sick of painstakingly lining up the steps and trajectory of every jump in previous Tomb Raider games. "We've eliminated the grid-based movement," comments Gray. "You no longer have to be perfectly aligned to make the jump...she can sense when she's close to something and reach out with one hand and adjust."
Although any new Tomb Raider title must be approached with at least some skepticism, we're honestly pleased with what we've seen of Legend so far. Hopefully Tomb Raider: Legend will be Lara's dramatic return to the top of the gaming world.
Source: : Game Informer Issue 148 August 2005, scans by LaraCroftOnline.com
Its an understatement to say that Tomb Raider: Legend has had a tumultuous existence thus far. With a new design team, a desperate publisher, and thousands of jaded fans, Legend has a lot of work to do if its going to impress anyone. Can Lara Croft still wow the few fans she has left in the wake of the unmitigated critical flop that was Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness? After what weve seen of Legend, our answer is a pleasedbut reservedyes.
The design team over at Crystal Dynamics (best known to PC gamers for the recent Project: Snowblind) appears to have risen to the occasion, taking the series back to its dungeon-delving roots while updating Tomb Raiders look and feel to take full advantage of the latest-generation PC hardware. The game is now fully rendered using Havok physics, andas we showed you in our June issueLara herself is cuter, softer, and more realistic than before. Her movements are much more agile and fluid this time around, thanks in part to an overhauled control system that looks to provide a considerable change of pace from the clunky mess found in Angel of Darkness.
Lara Croft 2.0
But make no mistake: Crystal Dynamics isnt out to fix anything here. Legend has nothing to do with Angel of Darkness; its a completely new product built from the ground up and designed with the series classic gameplay in mind. As associate brand manager Mike Schmitt puts it, [We took] some time off after the release of Angel of Darkness and essentially [did] a brand auditweve made a conscious attempt to get back to some of the things that made the first game so special. Of course, this means some good old-fashioned acrobatics, high-tech gadgets, and dual-pistol firefights, but theres more to Legend than gunplay and hot pants.
Central to the games design is the incorporation of new puzzle elements into the action. Crystal Dynamics is trying to move away from the find the key and throw the switch puzzles found in previous Tomb Raider games, instead focusing on environment-oriented challenges with multiple solutions. For example, while searching for a hidden passageway, Lara might be able to kick over a statue to uncover the entrance or perhaps blow the passageway open with a gun emplacement or a grenade. Were assured that a lot of effort has gone into making fun, exciting puzzles with minimal frustration.
The Plot Thickens
With both new and classic elements in place, what direction can the series possibly take to tell a good story that isnt just another by-the-numbers artifact-hunting plot? Unfortunately, Eidos still has its lips sealed about story specifics. Were not giving too much away yet, remarks Schmitt. Lara will encounter a nemesis long thought dead as the [game] unfolds. Lets just say well learn a lot more about Laras pastand what makes her tick.
Falling From Grace
A timeline of Laras exploits
1996 Just when you thought 3D games were connected to your gag reflexTomb Raider makes it all feel fresh and new again. CGW #152
1997 Theyve made enough changes to make it interesting, but if you didnt like the first game, this wont make you change your mind. CGW #164
1999 Gameplay hasnt changed. Youre still doing the same running-jumping-climbing-swimming moves, but with a few new additions. CGW #188
2000 The hours spent repeating levels prove that the designers have nothing more to offer. CGW #200
2003 And thus gamings highest-profile franchise is run into the ground and kicked repeatedly in the head. CGW #231
DEVELOPER: Crystal Dynamics
RELEASE DATE: November 2005
Source: : the Computer Gaming World, September, 2005 by Ryan Scott
Source: Mad Magazine, Issue #457 '50 Worst Things about Video Games', September 2005
Comeback of the year: Laras name stands for quality again. And theres a big article on a DVD that was included with the magazine that contains history and game sequences on DVD.
Prettier than ever, Lara Crofts on the hunt for valuable artifacts in Tomb Raider Legend. Thank God: The boring city trips of the previous installments are gone, like in the golden days of the series yore, Lara explores ancient temples and catacombs. In the gigantic hall of an Inca temple, Lara has to operate three pressure plates in the right sequence to open the gate to the next room. The first metallic boulder lies next to one of the plates. Quickly we roll it onto its place. The boulders surface is stunningly realistic thanks to normal maps. The remaining two boulders are hidden high above on remote ledges. Were only able to reach them after difficult jumping and climbing maneuvers. As soon as weve operated all the pressure plates, a huge ray of light appears in the center of the hall, showing us the way to the exit just like in the first Indiana Jones movie.
In GameStar 12/1997, the third GameStar issue ever, Michael Galuschka tested Tomb Raider 2 and rated it a high 89%. For many fans, the second part is still the highlight of the series. Theyre right: The action game offered more diversion, harder riddles and a bigger showdown than the original assuming you owned a Pentium 133 with 16 MB RAM and a 3Dfx graphics card.
Even the tutorial set in Bolivia starts in a spectacular way and immediately stimulates old Tomb Raider emotions. In a cut scene (using in-game graphics), Lara climbs a rock like Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible 2. Once on top, were supposed to jump over (sic) several ledges in a vertigo-inducing height, hang on narrow edges and roll through crevices, taking advice from Laras yet-secret assistants by means of her radio. Doing all that, Miss Croft moves as lifelike as never before even the flexible Prince of Persia looks as wooden as Pinocchio compared to her. The developers animated all of her moves by hand as opposed to using the common motion capture method, where actors are filmed.
Lets Rock, Baby!
When we follow a river through a beautiful valley after our climbing adventure, were confronted with the first riddle: Lara should climb a high waterfall, but the walls are too slick. Looking for help, we notice a log lying on a rock in the shallow river bed like a seesaw. Theres a big boulder balancing on a ledge a few meters above it. We climb onto it and push the boulder down thanks to the new physics engine. Now the seesaws charged on one side and offers us a practical opportunity to jump we made it! Tomb Raider pros might wrinkle their noses over such simple riddles, but they can be reassured: The game will become more difficult soon enough.
Running the Gauntlet? Not Anymore
In one of the later levels, the tomb raider explores an Inca temple in Peru. Greg [Hounsom, Senior Producer with Eidos] tells us something about the story: Some years ago, Lara was on an expedition here with some friends. A member of the team fell in a hole, into a widely ramified tunnel system, missing ever since. Now Lara wants to know more about her friends whereabouts and find the parts of a historic artifact, scattered all over the world. We couldnt get him to tell us which artifact this could be judging from his smile, it seems to be worth the hunt. We find out soon how somebody could get lost in the temple. In a barely lit corridor, we suddenly encounter rotating blades, speeding at us in a wild staccato Prince of Persia sends its compliments. By timing our actions well, we manage to jump over the first blade and roll under the second one. A trickier version is already waiting beyond the next corner. Thank God the game saves automatically after every obstacle, keeping the frustration level very low.
Lara obviously isnt the only one looking for the artifacts, Greg says. Shes got an evil opponent whos killed her best friend years ago. She was crossing a bridge in the South American jungle, an he cut the rope. Shed got too close to him and his plan with her research. The special thing about that: During the game, youll return to the place of the incident, and youll travel back in time to the moment where she falls into the abyss. As a younger Lara, youre supposed to find a way down into the valley and look for her. In order to do that, the heroine has to survive long diving sequences and solve underwater riddles. Those are as nerve-racking as usual due to Laras limited air supply.
We had a conversation with Riley Cooper, Lead Game Designer at developer Crystal Dynamics about Lara's future, Angelina Jolie and the obligation to make a new Tomb Raider game. Riley Cooper was committed as Designer at Crystal Dynamics to the Legacy of Kain series (Soul Reaver 1 & 2, Defiance), prior to taking the design work for Tomb Raider Legend.
Gamestar Tomb Raider used to be developed by Core Design in the UK. How come Lara ended up at your place?
Cooper (laughs) We didn't have a choice! We all were pretty excited to be allowed to work on the latest Tomb Raider. After we thought a little about it, it struck us how much people still are fond of Lara Croft and loving the adventurous roaming around in old ruins. At the same time many were somewhat annoyed that the gameplay hasn't changed much since the first episode. This is our chance to make a good game for a good character.
Gamestar Have you considered digitalising Angelina Jolie's appearance?
Cooper Angelina Jolie has represented Lara Croft fabulously, so we indeed took in consideration to put her into the game. At the end however we decided that Lara is not dependant of a famous face, but exists on her self, independantly. And we have moulded her appearance, her looks her physics over and over again. You just cannot imagine how we discussed every detail - Lara was our main subject anyway. Next most important to us was that the atmosphere of the temples, ruins and other environments Lara visits throughout the game, had to be perfect. That is what some of the previous episodes of this game had lost focus about. From the start of this project we haven't left a single stone untouched.
Gamestar Due to the weaker volumes many people lost faith in the series.
Cooper True. That's why we are very cautious this time, with what we announce and promise, untill we really can show the proof. That may be frustrating to you and your readers, but we don't want to fool anybody. Instead, everybody should play and control Lara theirselves for a few moments, to only conclude that we really solved the problems of the predecessors. We play without tricks or hidden meanings.
Gamestar So this time no expensive lunch-parties with Hollywood stars then?
Cooper Absolutely. And talking about Hollywood: to us it is important that the story of Tomb Raider: Legend is not just put into the game at the end of its developement. From start our team has been focused on giving to the player the levels and the controls for a cinematic experience that is as much as possible melted to one with the story. Too often it is not the case: first they make the controls, then the levels and at the end comes the story. To us all 3 dimensions are equally important, and we don't want to go into a compromise with any of these.
Gamestar Earlier, the stories had hardly more depth than "Lara seeks for artifacts in old ruins."
Cooper That will be evidently different this time. Lara is preoccupied with many questions about her past. They give her the reason to explore various exotic places and artefacts.
Gamestar So in the end no questions will remain?
Cooper I worked on Legacy of Kain. With that one we had some cliffhangers that were a bit too large - making one wonder in the end what it was all about. At the end of Tomb Raider: Legend you will know a lot about Lara Croft's past and get answers to questions that rise and occupy you during the game. Of course, some will stay unanswered - when everything is explained that would be boring, no?
Gamestar The final Boss escapes after a 15 minutes battle, leaving us standing in the rain?
Cooper Definitely not. The gamers will be very satisfied with the end-scene of Tomb Raider. Promised!
Credit to Tomb Raider Forums and MonA saX
Credit to www.tombraiderforums.com, Source - PLAY Magazine (UK) Issue 136
Scans taken from PSM Magazine, Holiday Issue 105, December 2005
Source: Voice Over website with the permission of its owner Amano Tsukiko.