Survival instinct: Mass of new Tomb Raider details revealed

Saturday, 30 April 2011 09:15 GMT By Debabrata Nath

Crystal Dynamics’ next Tomb Raider title has covered several magazines this month, revealing a ton of new details.

Obviously, SPOILERS.

Spanish magazine Hobby Consolas cover story has dropped the following:

  • If you walk into this game expecting Lara Croft from the previous Tomb Raider games, you’ll be disappointed. This Lara is human; she bleeds and suffers and will have to fight for her survival.
  • You’ll have to get used to seeing fear and pain in Lara’s face. Her expressions and even the camera movements have been generated using motion capture.
  • The new game, titled just Tomb Raider, will be a complete reboot. The developers decided to re-imagine Lara Croft, who’ll have very little in common with the woman from earlier titles, who had an enviable body and could perform super-human acrobatics at will. The main story, development, and even the main character will re-start from scratch in this game.
  • The story revolves around a young Lara Croft, who’s shown as a teenager just out of university. A rational and analytical young lady, she goes on a expedition in a ship called Endurance, which sinks next to an island close to the coast of Japan. She’s the sole survivor of the shipwreck.
  • Helping hands and UI will be kept to a minimum, even though the game will show things like what can be burnt, or which buttons to press in Quicktime events.
  • The island’s central area will serve as the main headquarters. In the main camp, you’ll be able to “buy” abilities, make new tools or get back to missions you’ve already finished. The remaining area will be used to climb or search for new missions.
  • Lara has a “Survival Instinct”. By pressing a button you can 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 you’ll be able to follow traces normally invisible to the eye. For example, wolf footprints could lead you to a med-kit. When you reach it, one of those animals might attack you.
  • 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, and so on.
  • The camera will use innovative framings to add to sensations of anguish or claustrophobia. The game has a renewed graphics engine known as Crystal Engine.

Many games have influenced the new Tomb Raider:

  • Physics from Half Life 2 – The usage of gravity or water currents was already explored in this classic game. Here such concepts will be put to use with boxes and barrels.
  • Atmosphere of Uncharted – Nathan’s soliloquies will be “limited” by Lara, as well as the extreme situations for the main character.
  • The “vision” of Assassin’s Creed – Ezio’s Eagle Sight isolates different objectives using colours. Lara will be able to do something similar using her Survival Instinct.
  • The origin story of Batman Begins – The first act in the film showed Bruce Wayne’s hard path to become Batman. That “hero’s journey” will guide Lara’s first steps.
  • The suffering of 127 Hours – In that movie, the main character has to punish his body to survive. The most famous scene in the film inspired the guys at Crystal Dynamics to force Lara’s resistance to the limit.
  • The mysteries of Lost – Strange wrecked ships? An remote island full of mysteries? Lost’s plot has been acknowledged by Crystal Dynamics.

Another magazine, this time a French one named Consoles, has revealed some additional details:

  • The adventure is divided into three big “episodes”, each one corresponding to a part of Lara’s transformation into an adventurer: survive, rescue and escape.
  • The laws of gravity and centrifugal force allow Lara to go through her obstacles.
  • The transition between cinematics and game is almost invisible.
  • Lara’s grief is accentuated by effects like close-to-face cameras, on-screen blur.
  • Lara changes throughout the game. She will evolve from a young, inexperienced woman to an adventurer. It will be apparent from her equipment (the article says that it might be possible to see her double pistols), for example.
  • Lara can only use Survival Instinct when she’s standing still.
  • There are many ways to solve puzzles, and sometimes you’ll have to try multiple times thanks to the use of physics.
  • Buddha statues are visible throughout the game. Although it’s speculated these are save points, their exact role is unknown for now.
  • Some elements of the world fall when Lara stands on them for too long.

Tomb Raider is in development for PS3 and Xbox 360. There’s no date yet.