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Trinity34
22nd Jun 2005, 20:10
TOMB RAIDER: LEGEND
Reinventing Lara: Can Eidos Make You Care About Tomb Raider Again?


Lara Croft is kind of like a hot ex-girlfriend. Yeah sure, the breakup might have been ugly, but then you see her after a year or so, and she’s looking pretty good, and she’s giving you that look, so you decide to give things another try. And before you know it, you’re sitting in some bar crying in your beer because your heart’s been broken again.

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 company’s 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 can’t 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 heros - specifically, tomb raiding, gunplay, and travel to exotic locales. But the most important thing they realized, as Blundell puts it, is that "It's 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 franchise's 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 habitat - clambering through remote loctions and raiding those tombs she's 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, you'll have to wait with everyone else to see what Crystal - and Lara - have 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.



Official US Playstation Magazine, June 2005.
Transcribed by Trinity34 for the Eidos forums.

jayel
22nd Jun 2005, 23:05
Thanks for posting the article Trinity. They obviously know what we want... now all they have to do is give it to us.

Seems simple enough, doesn't it?

Treeble
23rd Jun 2005, 01:35
Official US Playstation Magazine, June 2005.
Transcribed by Trinity34 for the Eidos forums.

Thanks for posting Trinity, but now I'm confused.

I have the exact same article in a Brazilian magazine, Playstation Power, but it's in the issue of May. I always thought the articles would be written wherever else and some people would just translate them (badly done most of the time, they even translate slangs as "kick ass", which simply doesn't work in other languages lol) to portuguese to rip off our moneys. Could it work the other way around sometimes? :confused:

Klerik of Kaos
23rd Jun 2005, 01:48
Wow Trin. Interesting find. Well, let's just hope that CD can restore the good ol' Lara Croft that we all grew to know and love. And was loved by millions around the world none the less!

Trinity34
23rd Jun 2005, 14:11
Thanks for posting Trinity, but now I'm confused.

I have the exact same article in a Brazilian magazine, Playstation Power, but it's in the issue of May. I always thought the articles would be written wherever else and some people would just translate them (badly done most of the time, they even translate slangs as "kick ass", which simply doesn't work in other languages lol) to portuguese to rip off our moneys. Could it work the other way around sometimes? :confused:

To add to the confusion, even tho the date on the US Playstation mag is June, it actually comes out in May.... around the middle of May for the newstands and a week before for the subscribers. I just typed it up real quick for everyone to read. I did not know other magazines would have the article also. :o

BlueSkiesXXV
23rd Jun 2005, 14:55
Thanks for taking the time to transcribe the article :)
Nice One!

Sophia Leigh
24th Jun 2005, 00:05
To add to the confusion, even tho the date on the US Playstation mag is June, it actually comes out in May.... around the middle of May for the newstands and a week before for the subscribers. I just typed it up real quick for everyone to read. I did not know other magazines would have the article also. :o

Yeah, I thought I had read it before, not to worry, thanks for your efforts :thumbsup:

linden
24th Jun 2005, 11:59
Lara Croft is kind of like a hot ex-girlfriend. Yeah sure, the breakup might have been ugly, but then you see her after a year or so, and she’s looking pretty good, and she’s giving you that look, so you decide to give things another try.

I never broke up with Lara ... she has been with me everyday with custom levels between the time of TR5 to AoD and now the time between AoD and the present time.

... it was the normal, everyday gamers who broke up with Lara.

Mangar The Dark
24th Jun 2005, 13:27
Sadly, I think Crystal Dynamics may be fighting a losing battle. Many people lost interest in Lara back around the time of TR3. The first game was brilliant and almost every gaming publication raved about it, and gamers snatched it up quickly. TR2 basically offered more of the same, but at least they threw in a few innovations like vehicles (though I can't say I particularly enjoyed them), and Lara was able to do a few new moves. All in all, it was a glorified expansion pack, but because people loved the first game so much, it was accepted.

With TR3, however, Core relied on the same tricks one too many times. A lot of people I know were fed up with doing the same old things in the same Lego world. Yeah, the new lighting effects were pretty, but so what? It was the same game AGAIN. To make matters worse, Eidos also released TR Gold and TR2 Gold, so the market was getting flooded with unoriginal gameplay. One gaming magazine didn't even bother to write a new review for TR3. They merely took their TR2 review, changed a few words here and there, and added the disclaimer: "Since Eidos was too lazy to release a new game, we're too lazy to write a new review."

I really think TR4 was the best sequel. Yes, it offered more of the same again, but it seemed better balanced than ever before, and the the story was actually good this time (I've always like the TR games, but I hated the way their stories were told before TR4.) Unfortunately, I know many people were so sick of the franchise at the point, they didn't even bother with it. TR5 offered no improvements over TR4. No, tightrope walking does NOT count as an improvement. Actually, with the exception of the level editor, TR5 was a step backwards from TR4. It was the shortest TR game, had a weaker plot, no vehicles, false advertising (remember the "hand-to-hand combat" claims?), etc.

Still, people started to get hopeful again when Eidos announced Angel Of Darkness. It promised to FINALLY be a new TR experience. Now there would be role playing elements, dialogues, a deep and involving plot, a second playable character... it all sounded so cool. Sadly, we all know how well that went. To be honest, I think AOD was bashed too harshly. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and had no trouble with the controls at all (I didn't notice any significant difference between AOD's controls and controls in the previous games, actually) but I was lucky and managed to play it on a system that didn't crash and had no graphic or sound glitches to speak of. Also, I got my copy for $5, so I guess my expectations were lower.

Well, I hate to be the voice of doom, but whereas putting Lara's face on a box back in 1996-1997 was a sales boon, now I think it may have the opposite effect. Many people just role their eyes when they hear mention of Lara Croft, and even if the game is spectacular, it still needs to break through the barriers that critics and gamers have set up against it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, and if the game is halfway decent I'll enjoy playing it, but I can't say I'm overly optimistic about Legend's chances of restoring Lara to her former glory.

linden
24th Jun 2005, 13:56
@Mangar The Dark,
sorry to say but you sound just like the people i mentioned in my post just before your post.
I also have two friends who could say the same you just said.

There are people who played Tomb Raider for the reason you explained, and quit playing because there wasnt anything "new" in the games...
... and then there are FANS who play Tomb Raider because they just like Tomb Raider.

I, myself have played all the official games and liked them all, but i have also played hundreds of custom levels,
which means i have to like the thing there is in it, ... not just a game, you know, more like a way of life.

Mangar The Dark
24th Jun 2005, 14:28
Linden,
I think maybe you didn't quite get my point. I still enjoy TR (though I wouldn't go so far as to say it's "a way of life"... that's just scary!) but most people are weary of it because it didn't evolve enough. That's why I think it will be hard for Legend to be a major success in terms of bringing Lara back to the forefront of gaming. The general public sees Lara now, and many of the groan and turn away. Putting her face on a box years ago was guaranteed to help sales. These day, I'm afraid it may have the opposite effect.

As you said, the FANS (me, you, other people on this board) are happy to keep playing the same old thing ad nauseum. Other people aren't so enarmoured with Lara that they're willing to do that. They want new experiences. If Legend's goal is reach beyond just the already-established fan base, it's going to be a difficult struggle, I think.

Trinity34
24th Jun 2005, 16:36
With TR3, however, Core relied on the same tricks one too many times. A lot of people I know were fed up with doing the same old things in the same Lego world. Yeah, the new lighting effects were pretty, but so what? It was the same game AGAIN. To make matters worse, Eidos also released TR Gold and TR2 Gold, so the market was getting flooded with unoriginal gameplay. One gaming magazine didn't even bother to write a new review for TR3. They merely took their TR2 review, changed a few words here and there, and added the disclaimer: "Since Eidos was too lazy to release a new game, we're too lazy to write a new review."



But you know what? I started my TR experience with TR3 and I loved it. Then I played TR1, which I also loved, then TR2, which I did not like as much. Is someone not going to buy the game because of what IGN or Gamespot say? I don't think so. But I do know what you are trying to say. The actual name "Tomb Raider" does limit Lara to the adventures she can have. Maybe Sci should drop the "Tomb Raider" from the game title and just use "Lara Croft".

Mangar The Dark
24th Jun 2005, 17:29
But you know what? I started my TR experience with TR3 and I loved it. Then I played TR1, which I also loved, then TR2, which I did not like as much.

Which kind of proves my point. You played two Tomb Raider games and enjoyed them. By the time you played a third game of it, you were less thrilled. You just played them in a different order than most people, but you still weren't as into the third game that you played. Again, though, I'm not saying this is the case for everyone (oddly enough, I played them in order, and I really enjoyed TR3 a lot more than TR2.)


Is someone not going to buy the game because of what IGN or Gamespot say? I don't think so. But I do know what you are trying to say. The actual name "Tomb Raider" does limit Lara to the adventures she can have. Maybe Sci should drop the "Tomb Raider" from the game title and just use "Lara Croft".

It's not just a matter of what Gamespot says, though. Regular gamers (i.e. "not critics") just seem less interested in the franchise. Of course, bad reviews don't help.

Actually, my point wasn't about changing the name to allow for more diverse adventures (though I do agree with that, to an extent, and I think AOD could have been called "Lara Croft: The Angel Of Darkness" rather than "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.") My point was really that the name "Tomb Raider" used to be a selling point, but now it seems to turn people away because too many games in the franchise failed to live up to people's expectations.

linden
25th Jun 2005, 06:31
@Mangar The Dark
lol, you think "a way of life" is scary?
Well i know people who agree with me here, and i know Tomb Raider is part of their everyday life, like George Machiver here at this forum, who is a level builder, and i know how long it takes to build a big level like the ones he builds, so yes, i think its more like a "a way of life" than just a game.

I also played TR3 as my first, like Trinity34 there, then TR5 and only then i got a chance to play TR1 and 2, and i would say it was like first buying a album from a band/artist. First buy the album that is the newest one and then buying the few older ones... they maybe good albums but they are not the ones you like that much, like Trinity34 experienced there.
I think this is something like that.
If you heard one album from a band, you heard them all, you know. The band is still the same and the die hard fans dont even want them to change, cause if they change too much, fans dont like them anymore. Maybe the everyday listeners like the band if it's trendy, and they get new fans.

This happened to me with the band called No Doubt; i first bought their 2nd album which i loved, and then bought their 1st album which was ok too, then they released a new album which still had some good songs but i didnt like most of them, cause the music style already changed a little bit.
Then, they released their 4th album which i didnt buy anymore because of what i heard from the radio, the music style had changed so much that it wasnt even close to the style i liked.

I didnt call myself a fan, i was just a person who liked their music but when it changed too much, i didnt like it anymore. I like many and many bands but im not a fan.
This is what i mean with "everyday gamers" ... they are not fans, they are just like me with my many bands, that i like because the music is good and if Tomb Raider cant give them what they like, they are not buying it.

If you dont mind me quoting you: Putting No Doubt's name and faces on a cover of the CD years ago was guaranteed to help sales IN MY CASE.
These days, I'm afraid it have the opposite effect.

I hope you got MY point there, lol.
No hard feelings. :)

CatSuit&Ponytail
25th Jun 2005, 09:45
But you know what? I started my TR experience with TR3 and I loved it. Then I played TR1, which I also loved, then TR2, which I did not like as much. Is someone not going to buy the game because of what IGN or Gamespot say? I don't think so. But I do know what you are trying to say. The actual name "Tomb Raider" does limit Lara to the adventures she can have. Maybe Sci should drop the "Tomb Raider" from the game title and just use "Lara Croft".
It's a good point, but "Tomb Raider" is sort of just her own personal title, like "Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist" is a Pharmacist. It's his job, but he's allowed to do other things. :D I liked that TR3 was subtitled "Adventures of Lara Croft"......I subtitle them all myself that way, and don't worry. ;)