As the videogame industry ages and evolves a curious tendency has emerged. Rather than the creation and establishment of original franchises, studios are instead focusing on the guaranteed-cash provided by a long-standing series.
The latest iconic title to receive this treatment is Tomb Raider, which will see the release of its 10th title in 15 years next March.
Unlike some premiere titles, senior art director Brian Horton is promising this is no HD remake or rehash as it works to blend Tomb Raider’s classic action-arcade elements with a more current RPG model.
“All of these ingredients together, mixed with sort of a refactoring of our formula, coming up with an RPG-like ability increase, these are all things which have made a very positive impact to our franchise,” says Horton.
But why the sudden interest now? The last true Tomb Raider title came in 2008 – and was considered average at best. Horton says the reason is simple; Croft is an icon.
“From all of our research Lara Croft is the second-most recognizable character after Mario,” he says.
Yes, though she is probably best-known for the fact people could run around as a naked polygonal woman, she is still a character of a generation.
First launching on the Sega Saturn, MS-DOS and PSX, Tomb Raider – and its unrealistically buxom beauty – have spawned an empire.
That first title combined both animal and human enemies with puzzle-solving and set a precedent for action games to follow, and Horton expects this new title will be similar in that respect.
“There is definitely going to be animal combatants. But our focus is not on animal combatants, it’s definitely more on the island itself. The harsh conditions of the island and this group of crash-landed, sort of like a cult-like organisation that Lara will have to overcome,” he says.
Is that ringing any bells? It sounds very similar to a recent (infuriating) television show doesn’t it?
“I think Lost is definitely a good touchstone for those that are trying to look to put a pop-culture filter on it. Also I cite Apocalypse Now, that ominousness and taking that idea of what happens to a human put into an extreme circumstance,” says Horton.
Developers Crystal Dynamics are taking an unusual approach to the title by not including any competitive multiplayer elements, as they wished to focus on the single-player campaign, but promise a swath of downloadable story content will be made available.