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Next Generation Online interviews Adrian Smith (June 1997)

In an exclusive interview with Core's Adrian Smith, Next Generation Online discussed Tomb Raider 2's design considerations and differences from the original game.

Tomb Raider 2 is among the most eagerly anticipated sequels in videogame history. The original game is one of the better selling titles of all time and the sequel promises to follow in its footsteps. The series' magnetic character, engaging puzzle aspects and graphical brilliance has reached millions of players worldwide and the latest game promises to bring even more to the table.

The original Tomb Raider was an overwhelming success. Where does this success come from?

Smith: If we look at what we forecast the game to do, the actual numbers have probably passed it tenfold and I think the biggest shock was its performance in America. The US isn't always a known quantity because it's much harder to get product well placed. The success of Tomb Raider has taken all of us by surprise. We've just passed the 2.6 million mark and it was only recently released in Japan. Let's hope it continues to do well.

Having seen Tomb Raider 2, can you tell us more about how it differs from the original

Smith: We looked long and hard at Tomb Raider 1 and analyzed it. During the development of that game, we had a lot of ideas for things that could have been put in the first one but we had to draw the line somewhere and not cross over it. So we kept those ideas on the side and in reserve for the sequel. It would have been too easy to just do another set of levels for Tomb Raider and we wanted to add something to the game. Being that it was the original members of the team doing Tomb 2, they would have gone braindead doing `more of the same'.

So we wanted to do something different but keeping the essence the games. We could change the locations and do tricks with the lighting. Lara had to change subtly because people would have gone mad if we changed her dramatically. We looked at Lara's moves and contemplated new moves for her to use that would open it up more. So now she can traverse walls that combines the grab and catch moves. All of her moves have been revisited and we did some new work on her pony tail which now sways back and forth, floats on the surface of the water and more.

The dynamic lighting, which works for Lara's weapons and enemy weapons and the environment lighting has all been redone. All of the lights now cast correct shadows and look more real. Areas of the map can now be made much more dramatic. We can have dark corners that need to be approached carefully or have flares thrown in them. Previously all the lights were precalculated and the difference is amazing.

The engine was improved and speed gains were made. In the port to Windows and that dragged the performance down a little bit. As we are optimizing that speed is coming back but it has required some effort. Eventually it will come out faster and smoother than the original.

The baddies will be far more numerous than they were in the original and the baddies are now far more intelligent. If you climb up a ledge, they will follow you. Many of the things you are physically capable of they are capable of. This is very different from the first one where they were restricted to the area they were contained in.

The game is going to be PlayStation and PC only. Does cutting out the Saturn version allow you any additional flexibility?

Smith: Basically, that's it in a nutshell. If we looked long and hard enough at it, we could have done another Saturn version, but I think we might have been compromising what we wanted to do on the PlayStation and PC. We've always said that the PlayStation is a good system to do what Tomb Raider does. That's not anything against the Saturn, it's just that the PlayStation does its job extremely well. There was no way we could gain improvement from the Saturn version because we couldn't make use of things like Mode 7 floors. We viewed it as a situation that we couldn't move it as far forward as we wanted to.

Presumably there will be PC accelerator support as there was on the first game?

Smith: Definitely. This time around it's native Windows 95 so all of the specific cards will be supported via D3D and specific cards will follow.

What are we going to be seeing at the show specifically? How many levels? What sort?

Smith: The problem is expectation is so massive as to what they're going to see, and without giving massive chunks of the game its going to be difficult. We're going to be showing part of the Venice level and what we're trying to do is create a strange part of that level that people will be able to explore and find most of the new moves in there. They'll be able to climb, and see the baddies coming after you. There will also be rolling demos. If you touch it you can play, or if it sits it will go into a rolling mode. The rolling demo will show more of the Venice level, the Tibetan level and even some of the sunken galleon boats level. They will see a wide variety of stuff and quite a bit to play.

Interview taken from Next Generation Online, published June 18, 1997. The Croft Times