Crystal Dynamics, developer of the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, has said that the studio went back to the drawing board with the iconic series because it “felt necessary” to do so.
Rather than portray the experienced adventurer of games past, the new Tomb Raider puts players in control of a young Lara Croft, fresh out of university, who finds herself shipwrecked on a Japanese island, a nervous young girl more interested in getting out of dangerous caverns than into them. That, according to studio head Darrell Gallagher, was an essential step in Crystal Dynamics’ bid return the series to its status of old.
“A reboot for us felt like the necessary thing to do,” Gallagher tells us. “Lara had hit her apex in how she was before, and we didn’t really feel we could take that any farther. It was a chance to look at everything again, bring new people in who had been interested in the franchise before but didn’t feel like Lara was modern enough.
“We left no stones unturned as we were going through the concept, and then kept the right stones. The crucial thing is that it feels like her, even though it’s completely different.”
The reboot was not solely conceived, however, to once again position Lara Croft as one of gaming’s most iconic and popular characters, but to revamp the image of its developer. Crystal Dynamics took on the ageing franchise in 2003; three games later it was apparent that a rethink was as necessary for the studio as it was for Lara.
“The Trilogy games weren’t official reboots for us,” says global brand director Karl Stewart. “They were just Crystal’s interpretations of the game as it was. We see this as a fully fledged reimagining.” Gallagher agrees: “We wanted to take risks. We felt like we’d done some really great games after inheriting Tomb Raider from Core [Design], and one of our goals now was to do something that people didn’t expect, that felt fresh. [The series] is a sacred and fragile thing, but you have to go for it. You’re not going to make it sacred again unless you make that big leap.”
The above comments are extracts from our extensive preview of Tomb Raider, which is the cover story of our new issue. E228 will be hitting subscriber doormats in the next few days, and will be on shelves from May 10.