ECTS: Tomb Raider III Takes Shape (1998)
Developers adding features, feeling pressure.
by IGN Staff - September 8, 1998
Eidos showed an array of consistently impressive titles at ECTS, though its show was not without rumor.
There was talk on the show floor that Tomb Raider III may not be completed in time for its Thanksgiving release in the US, a rumor that refused to go away but could have been manufactured by jealous rivals. The game itself looked as though the old Lara has had a severe overhaul---her guns smoked, her breath was visible in the cold (the Antarctic level) and empty shells are ejected during the frequent fire-fights.
Ken Lockely, a senior Eidos spokesperson said that, "the first game was puzzle based, the second focused more on gun-play and with the third outing we've tried to successfully combine the two. There'll be a lot more puzzling in this one." Also included are dinosaurs that show flocking behavior as in the raptors in Jurassic Park. There are baboons that sneak around the levels and steal all of your power-ups--shoot one and the entire baboon population descends on you with bared teeth. There should be plenty here to keep everyone happy, as long as it's completed on time.
Of the other games on display at the booth, possibly the most impressive was Daikatana. Although it uses the Quake II engine, the development team have had to make some serious modifications to it in order to achieve the results they planned. We saw the game in action and the only word we can think of is awesome. Its huge, slick, atmospheric and very bloody. All of the 60 monsters in the game have their own separate AI. Quake II fans should keep an eye on this.
Thief: The Dark Project also displayed highly intuitive AI. The object here is to sneak everywhere--if you're too loud the guards will hear you and run to find their friends. The graphics are moody and look great, but aside from that this is a real departure from the traditional first person shooter. The story of the game is complex. Initially you're a thief for hire, but as missions progress, you'll find yourself betrayed by your former benefactor as he tries to take over the world. All very suspenseful.
Warzone 2100 is aiming to create some excitement in the crowded real-time strategy genre. The graphics and gameplay look good to us. As you go through the game you acquire better technology to further your efforts, and the game map grows to increase the strategic factor. Weather effects, camera tracking that you can switch on and off, lasers, flame-throwers and an intuitive interface make this a serious prospect for fans of the genre.
We got to see a little more of Lara . . . ooo la la.
by IGN Staff - October 26, 1998
This is an updated look at Core's soon-to-be-released Tomb Raider III, the next addition to the Tomb Raider series. We've spent all day playing the latest Beta and we've got some new info as well as a few new pics of Lara for you to salivate over. At the top of this page, you'll find updated information about TRIII and below it you'll find our original preview. Be sure to also check-out the updated screenshots at the bottom of the page.
Today we got our hands on the latest Beta copy of Tomb Raider III and, from what we've seen, it's progressing along quite nicely. The Beta featured 21 playable levels, including a training level where you can try out all of Lara's new moves without having to worry about getting hurt. Although some of the levels weren't completely finished as of yet, we got a good sense of what Core is trying to accomplish in four of the game settings: the South Pacific, England, Nevada, and Antarctica.
The South Pacific episode was the most complete of the four with eight levels: Jungle Ruins, Temple of Shiva, The River Ganges, Caves of Kali, Coastal Village, Crash Site, Maduhu Gorge, and Temple of Puna. These levels are very reminiscent of the first Tomb Raider and typically take place in jungle or cave settings. The opponents in these levels will include natives, dinosaurs, monkeys, and mutant lizardmen.
The England episode has five levels: Thames Wharf, All Hallows, Aldwych, Lud's Gate, and City. In this episode, you have to navigate your way through several underground sewers and subway tunnels, as well as jump from rooftop to rooftop as you explore the city. As stated in the original preview, Lara changes her outfit in each episode of Tomb Raider III. In the England setting, she dons a full-body black catsuit . . . rrroooww. You mostly fight other humans in these levels, so you animal-lovers out there might prefer this episode over the other three.
We could play 3 levels in the Nevada setting: Nevada Desert, High Security Compound, and Area 51. Clad in blue desert camo pants and a tank top, Lara takes on rattlesnakes, buzzards, and armed guards. These levels were the most unfinished of the bunch, so I hesitate to go into too much explanation about them. And, no, I didn't run into any aliens yet in case you're wondering.
The Antarctica episode included 4 playable levels: Antarctica, RX-Tech Mines, Lost City of Tinnos, and Meteorite Cavern. In the harsh, snow-covered terrain, Lara dons orange camo pants and a bulky winter jacket. Again, Lara mainly fights humans in these levels, but an occasional wolf will cross your path now and again.
Even at this stage, Tomb Raider plays decently and Lara's new moves, like the ability to crawl, duck, and climb hand-over-hand, really improve the overall feel of the game. The environments themselves also look much more complex since the addition of triangles and curves into the design system.
The effects also look completely updated and add those little extra details that are really needed to fully round-out any game. Smoke pours out of your guns when fired, blood spurts from wounded opponents, you can see Lara's breath in icy regions, the new lighting effects are truly impressive, and environmental weather effects give Tomb Raider III a more realistic feel than any of it's predecessors. In addition to the new effects, Tomb Raider III will include more environmental pitfalls, traps, and puzzles than any of the previous offerings in the Tomb Raider universe. These include such deadly nuisances as huge wheel traps, quicksand, trip wires, precarious building rooftops, pungee sticks, laser bombs, and bone-chilling icy water. Let me tell you now: quicksand bites it hard.
We hope this fills you in a bit more on what the designers at Core were going for in each episode. It doesn't look like they are going to have many problem getting this one out the door soon, and it should be on the shelves by late November. Keep checking back with us over the next few weeks for more info on the game as it gets closer to release.
For those of you unfamiliar with the by-now-famous Tomb Raider series (we're of course referring to Jim Swanson, the one human who hasn't heard of Tomb Raider - he lives in a small cave in Tibet), you take control of Lara Croft, an ¿ber-endowed adventuress who runs around the world searching for rare relics, battling bad-guys, and bustin' caps in wild animals who just happen to be asleep in their cozy, cozy lairs. You know, typical archaeologist stuff (how come Lara never has to spend days gluing together pottery shards?). In Tomb Raider III, the next episode in the series, Lara will begin her adventures in India searching for an ancient alien artifact that has the power to alter the path of evolution. Another typical day for your average archaeologist.
To add a bit of variety to the series, Lara will sport some new moves in this latest addition. She'll be able to crawl, duck, dash and dive through doors (not to be confused with the dine and dash), swing hand-over-hand monkeybar style, and perform fast sprints for short periods of time to get her out of sticky situations. In addition to the new moves, Tomb Raider III promises to bring you new vehicles (like a 4x4 quad, a motorized rubber raft, and a kayak) and new weapons (like an automatic HK-MP5, a Desert Eagle pistol, and a rocket launcher . . . the most satisfying weapon ever to grace a computer screen in any game).
Core has also upgraded enemy AI to give gamers more of a challenge, and the baddies will fit the locale that you're in. You'll be facing buzzards and rattlesnakes in the desert, polar bears and wolves in the colder regions, and, of course, there are guys with scruffy beards and guns everywhere. Because of their overwhelming popularity, the designers have brought back many of the dinosaurs from the first Tomb Raider. There's the Velociraptor, the T-Rex, and even the cute little scavenger dinos from that movie . . . Precambrian Plaza?, uh, Mesoic Meadow? Oh yeah, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, that's it!
In addition to new moves, enemies, and vehicles, Tomb Raider III will offer more graphical detail than in previous versions of the series. Not only does Lara have a cleaner, sharper look, but the new graphics engine allows the introduction of triangular shapes and curves into the game world. This makes for settings with more angles, thereby adding to the beauty and detail of the landscapes. The new engine also allows for realistic shadows, transparencies, smoke effects, and reflections. One of the neatest new graphical improvements is the addition of multi-colored lighting effects. Lara's flares glow brilliantly, flourescent lights flicker and cast shadows. There will even be new effects like water ripples and weather effects such as rain, fog, wind, and snow, immersing you even further into the virtual world of Lara Croft. Graphically, this will be the best Tomb Raider yet.
A demo of Tomb Raider III should be available in early November. Barring any major complications, Eidos is planning on releasing Tomb Raider III on Thanksgiving weekend . . . keep looking on IGN-PC for more information about Tomb Raider III and the demo in the weeks to come.
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