Q&A With Adrian Smith (1999)
- The Croft Times -
The following is an interview, done by our good friend John Bergerud of GA-Source, with Adrian Smith, CORE Design and Mike Schmitt, US Producer, which reveals information on the features we can expect, the puzzles, new weapons, and more.
I understand that Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation's plot revolves around ancient mythology and the alignment of the stars at the millennium. Could you elaborate on this?
Lara is hired to explore an untouched tomb... during her exploration she accidentally releases the evil spirit Set. Set had been imprisoned by his brother Horus long ago back in ancient times. Lara then discovers the only way to re-imprison set is for the person who released him to re-animate Horus at the correct alignment of the Orion constellation at the millennium so he can do battle with set and hopefully stop him from destroying the world.
How different will Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation be from the previous incarnations? How much of the original game is incorporated in this latest version?
We're trying to get back to the spirit of the first game (i.e. more adventuring/puzzles... less shooting) the inventory system has been redone to make life easier for the player. Objects can now be stored/combined (i.e. batteries/flashlight). Pieces of maps can be collected and Lara will have access to an overview map for the first time in a TR adventure when she finds them all. Lara will have binoculars at her disposal to view things too far away for the naked eye. Information she collects will be stored in her diary where she can refer to it later.
Tell us more about the latest engine on which Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation is based. What are its capabilities and how has it allowed you to expand the game beyond the scope of the original Tomb Raider?
We believe the changes from TR3 to TR:TLR will be the most noticeable yet. The game engine isn't brand new from the ground up but all of it's foundations have been rebuilt, and it's about 80% new code. A number of basic elements (AI, targeting system, etc...) are also being re-addressed.
What can you tell me about some of Lara Croft's missions? Are they mission based with clear objectives?
Can't really go into much detail here but it isn't mission based. The game plays as one cinematic experience from start to finish. I think the levels will be more straightforward though than in Tomb Raider III... We tried using multiple paths to get through areas and it seemed to really confuse a lot of gamers.
How many levels will Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation have and what environments will the player encounter?
It's really not broken down into a set number of levels since we're attempting to create the feeling of one large cinematic experience... Sizewise though it will be similar to the previous TR games... It all takes place in Egypt (tons of different locations though) locations will be smaller and more atmospheric...
What type of enemies will Lara Croft encounter this time around and what steps have you taken to create a truly effective AI?
Egypt as a location offers tremendous scope when coming up with mythological enemies. There will be lots of new exciting enemies for Lara to battle (along with some human ones as well) the AI has been improved vastly. Most of the enemies now have moves similar to Lara so you can no longer climb up on a rock and shoot safely!
What about Lara Croft, how has she been improved? What new moves will she have? Am I to understand that this will be a younger Lara Croft?
Lara is being 're-introduced' on the first level in order to find out more about her history and why she's the way she is... Quite a few new moves have been added from rope swinging to pole climbing... Lara can now open doors properly and shimmy around corners... This allows for lots of new ways to get around certain areas... A number of existing moves have been reworked to make Lara appear even more lifelike.
What new weapons can we expect? What about inventory items?
We've got a crossbow that can be combined with a lasersight... We've also got various forms of ammo for certain weapons (for example, different types of grenades for her grenade launcher) her inventory will be quite different. She'll carry a diary (where notes will be stored) that can be referred to for hints/tips... She'll also carry a canteen, binoculars and a flashlight... Various objects can be picked up, stored, and combined in her inventory.
The puzzles this time around will be based on Egyptian mythology and will operate like complex board games? What do you mean by complex board games?
It's more puzzle-based, ala original Tomb Raider, but we're talking all-new puzzles, combined with Lara's new moves and the new inventory system. Items can be combined to help with puzzle solving and information retrieval as well as combat etc. Lara will have everything she needs to solve the puzzles within the near vicinity - so she won't have to spend ages running around the map to collect items. The difficulty will lie in actually working out the puzzles, rather than obtaining the items required to solve them - so it's certainly more like the original game in that respect.
We've got pressure-pads, timed levers, rotating hubs, wheels, hanging switches, switches in holes, levers and fulcrums, platforms and blocks that can be raised, trip wires, breakable walls, direction puzzles (using compass) to name but a few. The old levers from previous games are now obsolete! We have a whole range of new systems for Lara to operate, using a variety of new animations.
What kind of strategy is required to play and successfully complete a level? What is the most important skill to master?
I think it will be much less confusing that Tomb Raider III (where there was a lot of backtracking, multiple paths, etc...) also, less emphasis will be placed on learning a complicated set of moves (sprint, jump, twist, grab etc...) to make progress from point a to point b...
For gamers who have already played the 3 previous versions, what do you think will attract them back to this latest version?
I think the 'feel' of the game is similar to that of the first game... The feeling of awe while exploring, the sense of adventure, the Egyptian location... I also think the storyline is easier to follow this time around which in turn will draw people into the game.
Have you set a firm release date and when can we see a playable demo?
Game should be shipping in late November... Playable demo maybe a few weeks beforehand? (a date really hasn't been set yet)
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