Developers' Diary #4
Stealth action, RPG elements, old and new moves: the new Tomb Raider was designed to offer a varied experience.
- Andrew Thompson (22 Jun, 2003)
We knew we wanted to expand the distinctive Tomb Raider style gameplay whilst at the same time expanding everything Lara could do. The first thing to be addressed was control. The old digital system had to go in favour of analog control. This allows Lara to negotiate the environment in a much more fluid way. For example whereas before Lara would 'walk to the edge, take a step back then run and jump' she now has the option of a much more direct run at a drop that needs jumping. If you miss the edge Lara can grab onto it allowing her to pull herself up and try again.
It was also clear from the start that we wanted to add a stealth function. The various gameplay styles would depend on the location the player was in. The Paris streets for example have an RPG feel whereas when exploring the Louvre evading guards and more deadly enemies the stealth option comes into its own. The stealth option is something that adds to Lara's abilities rather than be forced upon the player as in other games that have had comparisons drawn.
To maintain the traditional Tomb Raider element we had to have at least one seriously puzzle laden realm and this comes beneath the Louvre in a fictitious subterranean area called the Tomb of Brother Obscura. The entire area is filled with traditional traps, puzzles and death dealing contraptions needing some serious athleticism or both body and mind!
The much more severe tests Lara must go through this time around incorporate an in-game attribute upgrade. The necessary skills are attainable in specific in-game situations that will vary Lara's ability to handle climbs or death defying leaps. Most of the basic moves are covered in an initial training area, built into the first level of the game, but the skills needed to complete many tasks can be upgraded throughout the game. For the first time in a Tomb Raider game, areas that appear to be inaccessible initially can be revisited after the player, and Lara, have evolved.
Most of the second location in Prague, the Strahov Complex, is very much action based. Lara has to take on the very worst in bizarre creatures, mutated henchmen and heavily armed troops. She'll still need to keep her wits about her though as a trap is never far away!
A great deal of consideration was given to incorporating camera placement in the various levels. How the camera would act during gameplay was important, whether to cut or blend between cut-scene and gameplay cameras. With that in mind maps and levels needed to be constructed bearing in mind how the camera would navigate the geometry and follow the player.
In summery, we set ourselves the task of bring a fresh and updated control method to the player making full use of the additional controls the PlayStation 2 pad offers. We were determined though to ensure that the die-hard Lara player should still recognise the system and appreciate the evolvement that was undertaken.