If you were to ask any serious gamer over a decade ago what the future held for Lara Croft, chances are the response would be overwhelmingly positive. But fast forward a few years, a few less-than-spectacular releases, and more than a handful of apparent ‘returns to the franchise’s roots,’ and Lady Croft’s best years are firmly confined to the past. With the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, the developers are looking to change all that, and have one heck of a plan for retelling the franchise’s heroine’s origin story. According to them, the risks they’re taking could pay off in a big way.
In the constant development press and publicity of today’s gaming industry, the concept of a new game bringing a property back to its glory days, or breathing new life into a stale franchise is commonplace.
The Tomb Raider franchise in particular, with the past few titles all intending to gain back the foothold that the series once held in the adventure game genre.
Since Crystal Dynamics took over the franchise, the games released have been anything but faulty, but even the recently remastered Tomb Raider Trilogy haven’t been able to capture the same magic seen in the original releases. With most fans of adventuring and tomb-raiding turning to Nathan Drake these days, Lara is going to need to offer something new and interesting.
That is Crystal D’s plan for Tomb Raider, as the developer realizes that if they want to achieve great success, some risks need to be taken. In speaking with Edge, studio head Darrell Gallagher explained that the people working on the upcoming reboot are first and foremost fans of Croft, and intent on truly starting the franchise over from the very beginning:
“A reboot for us felt like the necessary thing to do… 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.”
There’ no question that the game is different, as witnessed by the few Tomb Raider gameplay screens we’ve seen, and rumors of multiplayer components circulating. Trying something new recently paid off for Crystal D, taking an entirely different spin on their franchise with the impressive Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.
One look at the newly redesigned Lady Croft shows just how much the standard is being changed, but fans have a right to be skeptical. Many saw the previous titles in the series as attempting to inject some renewed creativity and innovation into a stale property, but failed to resonate as much as the developer would have liked.
But if you think that this reboot is going to follow on the beaten path, Gallagher begs to differ:
“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.”
We’re all for developers taking risks for the sake of creativity and inspiration, and there’s no denying that Lara Croft is one of the video game characters most in need of some fresh blood. You really can’t hope for more from a reboot, with Tomb Raider casting off all the typical trappings of previous titles, instead throwing a young Lara into an untamed wilderness without any adventuring experience whatsoever.
The chance to see how Lara rose up from aristocratic roots into the battle-hardened and death-defying adventurer we know and love is one that can’t be missed. After all, this is a beautiful, wealthy, refined woman who prefers to spend her time risking her life amongst the criminal underworld. How did that happen?
We’ll find out just how many risks Crystal Dynamics has taken when Tomb Raider is released for the Xbox 360 and PS3 on an as-yet-unannounced date.