With Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, Crystal Dynamics couldn’t resist creating a new version of Lara Croft, despite the fact that the original version already represented a major makeover for the oft-refreshed leading lady.
In an Eidos Forums Q&A, executive producer Scot Amos said Crystal Dynamics is “passionate” about making “the best Lara ever”.
“Having a chance to test the waters with next-gen console tech and doing a new Lara was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. For us, we always want to push the boundary on excellence and that means never settling,” he said.
“I’d say Lara’s looks are just the start for what we will continue to evolve for all future iterations of Tomb Raider on next-gen.”
Crystal Dynamics started off thinking it would just update Lara’s skin or add “a few extra polygons”, but once it came to terms with what was possible with next-gen hardware it decided to rework her character model entirely.
“We’re excited about both this new step in upgrading Lara with her new TressFX hair, new sub-surface scattering on skin, and overall new look,” Amos said.
All in-game characters were given a fresh for the Definitive Edition, he added, but Lara, being the star, got the “super-deluxe treatment”, and the new character model is used in all aspects of the game – cutscenes and in-game.
“We even added special materials that dynamically change for her when she wades through mud, or gets blood on her, or when in rain/wet so it ties her more into the world’s state as she goes. TressFX was custom written and optimized for Lara this first-time out for us on Next-gen as we hadn’t ever done it before on consoles,” the producer said.
“We now have a new particle system, new lighting work and enhanced shadow-casters, tons of more visual storytelling elements (more debris, more details on walls, more density in the environment for vegetation),” he added.
“A few of our engineers were dedicated to improving physics both on Lara and in the world. A few quick examples – Lara has equipment on her that she acquires as she goes through her adventure. The climbing axe, her radio, her bow and a quiver of arrows, etc. All of these now have subtle but simulated physics on them so as she runs, jumps, falls, stumbles, they react accordingly giving her more grounding the world.
“Then the world itself – we added so many objects, plants, trees, and then wind and weather effects that also have physics simulation built into them to react with each other. Wind will make trees and leaves sway or flutter; cloth flaps against light or heavy winds accordingly; particles and Lara’s TressFX hair will drift according to the directional wind impact. All-in-all it adds a great additional depth and realism to the world.”
Amos wouldn’t commit to a frame rate as the team is still optimising, but said both the PS4 and Xbox One versions will run at 1080p.
The PC version of Tomb Raider was already pretty special, with lots of bells and whistles on top of the console versions such as TressFX and PhysX. Many of these enhancements, which did not appear in the PS3 and Xbox 360 release, will be in the Definitive Edition.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is expected in early 2014.