Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness  
The Angel Of Darkness

HarryThe Tomb Raider series is easily the most popular video game franchise of the nineties. And not only because the games of this series have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide but also because the image of Lara Croft, the mighty breasted archaeologist, is immediately recognisable also by those who are not used to play videogames. In the latest years Lara Croft was shown everywhere.

I was at U2’s Pop Mart tour and there was Lara Croft projected on the gigantic screen, I bought a new printer and I found a demo disk containing many levels of Tomb Raider, I bought a DVD driver and I found another demo, with other levels, I went to the cinema and I discovered that Angelina Jolie and Lara Croft were the same person. You know, you can’t escape Tomb Raider, Lara is everywhere.

Core has been working on the new game for Playstation 2 and PC for one year and a half but the project is still in early development. The game, simply called “The Next Generation” during this period, has now an official name: Tomb Raider – The Angel of Darkness

A new way to play Tomb Raider?
The first Tomb Raider was really something new in the industry, the first truly 3D adventure game ever released. The character was surprisingly mature for that period, the story was above the average, and Core did a wonderful job developing an intuitive control system. Unfortunately, the following episodes of the series played nearly the same. Tomb Raider 2, Tomb Raider 3, Tomb Raider 4, Tomb Raider Chronicles: who can really remember which game of the series included that level or that puzzle?

The Angel Of Darkness should be an absolute turning point in the series, and not only for the strong improvement in the graphics of the game. The new Tomb Raider should play like no other game in the series.

The story, first of all, will be more complex and more mature than the one of the preceding episodes, which lacked the epic grandeur of series like Soul Reaver or Metal Gear Solid; the new Tomb Raider will be a dark game, designed to appeal the older demographic of the Ps2.

"Our vision is to take the player somewhere dark, a place they might not necessarily wish to go, but a place they will have to venture if they are to bring Lara back. Lara will have some tough moral choices to make. It’s no longer a clear-cut case of good versus evil - this is a more complex tale, which will ask more complex questions of the player. It will be a new experience for people who have played Tomb Raider in the past.” said Adrian Smith, Co-founder and Operations Director at Core Design.

The Angel Of Darkness picks up a few years after the events of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, where Lara was supposed to be dead. During the adventure, the player will be given fragmentary information regarding the events which occurred in the period of time between the two games. At the beginning of the game, Lara receives a desperate phone call from Van Croy, her former mentor, who is tracking down a mysterious artwork from the 14th century in Paris. Lara arrives in Paris, but only to find out that Van Croy has been murdered and that she is accused for the crime.

Surprisingly, the Angel Of Darkness will be divided into three parts, which will be very different in atmosphere, gameplay and story – like three games in one. And this is only the beginning of a project and a story that will continue in the next instalments of the series.

"We’ve mapped out a complete story book for these new adventures, which will play out episodically, each adventure will have a beginning and an end, but will be part of a larger arcing storyline, similar to how the X-Files mythology works," said Adrian Smith, operations director, Core Design. "The new Lara Croft will be darker and edgier, which will appeal to the older demographic of PS2."

One game, three games
In the first part of the game, Lara, charged with murder, will have to move in the shadow, talking with other characters and interacting with them – a novelty in the series. This part, according to Adrian Smith, will play in a fashion similar to RPGs. Lara’s actions will influence how other characters react to her; players willing to explore all the environments of the game will also be rewarded by gaining access to previously inaccessible zones, that are not necessary to complete the game. In other words, there will be different ways to play the game, different routes to follow, different actions that could change the destiny of our heroine.

The second part of the game will be more loyal to the traditional Tomb Raider gameplay, but with more than an enhancement. Like in the classic Tomb Raider games, Lara will travel to many locations like Prague and Paris, through rich and detailed environments. The “new” Lara is able to perform more than 150 moves, including all the stealth techniques that every fan of Metal Gear Solid should love in a videogame. Lara can break enemies’ necks from behind, peek around corners and so on. In this second part, Lara will also meet the new playable character of the game, Kurtis.

Kurtis will be a playable character in the third part of the game. We don’t know anything about the play mechanics of this third section, but we know that Kurtis will have unique skills, abilities and weapons while sharing the basic control layout with Lara.

Of course, The Angel Of Darkness will feature a completely new graphic engine both in its Ps2 and Pc version, and from what we have seen, the new game will be visually impressive. Lara will be made of more than 5,000 polygons against the 5000 used in The Last Revelation; the environments seem dark, rich, detailed, and particle and light effects look really amazing in this early stage of development.

Stay tuned on for new information on Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness.

- Harry (April 4th, 2002)