July 21st, 2015
With more than 30 million games sold since it debuted in 1996, Tomb Raider has become one of the most successful video game series in history — not to mention the movies, books, action figures and other merchandise it also has spawned.
Many fans of the franchise are eagerly awaiting the next video game installment, simply titled Tomb Raider. Slated to debut on March 5 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PCs, this cinematic single-player adventure will serve as a prequel, of sorts. A young and inexperienced Lara Croft will evolve into a hardened warrior as she fights to stay alive on a deadly island.
What’s that, you say? You already know all this? To give you some lesser-known tidbits about the next Tomb Raider game, we caught up with Darrell Gallagher, head of studio for developer Crystal Dynamics, who shared the following facts.
Dare to enter the ‘Dragon’s Triangle’
“Off the coast of Japan, almost exactly on the other side of the world from the Bermuda Triangle, the Dragon’s Triangle is also noted for foul weather and mysterious disappearances,” begins Gallagher. One of the reasons the development team was so fascinated by the location was the number of vessels that have disappeared there — from Japanese fishing boats to WWII battle ships. It’s rumored that this region is where Amelia Earhart — one of the character inspirations for Lara Croft in the new Tomb Raider — may have disappeared, notes Gallagher.
Not horsing around
In the earlier stages of development, Crystal Dynamics looked at all sorts of ways for Lara to navigate through the island’s landscapes, Gallagher says. “One of the ideas was on horseback, and the technology for this was actually developed and tested.” It further made sense that Lara’s character — an affluent young lady schooled in England’s public school system — would be an adept equestrian. “Ultimately we discarded the horse as it would have implied the game is free roaming, which is not the case for Tomb Raider.” The island location is made up of a series of hubs including forest glades, abandoned WWII bases, shanty towns and more – “not overly conducive to horseback,” he notes.
New instrument created
BAFTA [British Academy of Film and Television Arts]-award winning Jason Graves was announced as composer of the game’s musical score in 2012, but few people know Jason worked with sculptor Matt McConnell to create a sculpture-cum-instrument especially to capture the sounds of Tomb Raider‘s island setting. “The music accompanying the beginning sequence of the game is played entirely on the sculpture,” says Gallagher.
“When Crystal Dynamics started to reimagine what Lara could look like we even went as far as chopping off the trade mark ponytail, giving her a cropped look as a way of further accentuating the move to a more dramatic, ‘real’ direction for Tomb Raider,” reveals Gallagher. “But, as time went on the team realized that there are certain signature features which make Lara recognizable — including long hair.”
To serve and protect
“In the early stages, we had Lara shipwrecked with the only other immediate survivor a young girl who she would have to look after and protect. But as the story developed we felt Lara’s character development risked dilution, so we opted for her to be rescuing a group of survivors,” says Gallagher. “This move allowed us to focus more on delivering a stronger character arc and personal journey for Lara.”