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Game Developer scores exclusive Tomb Raider Underworld postmortem June 17, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Crystal Dynamics, Underworld.
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Tomb Raider Underworld is Game Developer’s June-July game cover for 2009. The US-based gaming trade publication goes in-depth with Crystal Dynamics on the challenges and the successes of the Redwood-based studio developing the game.

Eric Lindstrom, former Creative Director at Crystal Dynamics, opens up about the earliest decisions about the Tomb Raider sequel and why and how they changed it later on. “Tomb Raider: Underworld was originally planned as an ‘easy’ sequel to the previous game in the series, using the same toolchain — but it never quite works out that way. Eric Lindstrom describes the process, highlighting instances in which the team wasn’t able to avoid known problems.”

You can hop on to the official Game Developer site to get yourself a copy in print or digital format.

[Gamasutra]

Make Lara jump AT you: Tomb Raider 3D now at your fingertips May 24, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Underworld.
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Now you can play Tomb Raider in 3D, thanks to Nvidia’s 3D Vision kit. We don’t really know the specifics of how it works exactly (something to do with a pair of glasses and an infrared transmitter), but Times Online claims that it does; that is, for a £99 price tag.

Clingy wet texture on Lara Croft after a swim in the Med? We’re there!

Underworld gets Classic/Platinum treatment May 22, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Underworld.
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Eidos has just issued a press release announcing Tomb Raider Underworld’s best-seller status, now ranking itself alongside Xbox 360’s Classics and PS3’s Platinum Hits. For that, you can grab a copy of the game for only £20. Shouldn’t be too bad for a Lara Croft adventure now, eh?

Hop on to Tomb Raider Chronicles for the full press release.

Underworld PS3 trophy patch to release on 28th May May 22, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Underworld.
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Keir Edmonds, Eidos’ global community manager, has just announced on Tomb Raider Fourms that the PS3 trophy patch for Tomb Raider Underworld will be released on 28th May. This follows the February announcement that the patch was underway. The update comes with some “fixes” according to Edmonds, “but nothing major or cosmetic.”

Yay for PS3 players then.

Laraverse round-up: Tomb Raider dev house is 43rd world’s most successful game studio May 12, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Crystal Dynamics, Eidos, Future Games, Lara Croft, Underworld.
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The 2009 edition of book series Develop 100 has ranked the Tomb Raider dev house as the 43rd most bankable game studio of the world, beating the likes of Bandai Namco, Bioware, Bungie, Rare, and, yes, Square Enix. Published by Develop, Develop 100 ranks the world’s most successful game studios based on a variety of criteria, including critical success or review scores, industry standing, and sales data of their respective games.

Tomb Raider Underworld, the most recent title developed by Crystal Dynamics, only sold an estimated 1.5 million units as of January 2009 — a sales count, despite surpassing the million mark, deemed disappointing by Eidos for Lara Croft’s eighth outing. This was followed by 30 Crystal Dynamics employees being laid off “to eliminate redundancy and give the studio tighter focus moving forward” and a directive for a Lara Croft make-over for the next game. Underworld has since reached 2.6 million units sold, ranking the game sixth lowest-selling  of all nine major outings of the franchise.

The game, however, has received generally respectable reviews, garnering 75 out of a possible hundred on Metacritic, which has led Eidos to give Crystal Dynamics directive to solely focus on the Tomb Raider franchise. Ian Livingstone, Eidos life president, has hinted that Crystal Dynamics is already hard at work on the ninth entry to the series, saying that “remarkable things” being added to the game will make you say “Oh Lara, I love you so much!”

In February, a Crystal Dynamics representative said that “it’s too soon to say anything about the next game,” and while Lara’s next game does seem to still be tightly under wraps, Eric Lindstrom, former creative director at the Redwood-based team, hinted in November 2008 that there have been talks of adding a multiplayer feature to the next game.

This was substantiated by Crystal Dynamics’ March ’09 job openings, which included an Online Programmer, whose job is to collaborate with “designers, artists, and other programmers” — as the job description puts it — “to develop and iterate on an online functionality including areas like multiplayer, user content sharing, community features, game metrics, etc.” While there is no solid indicator of what Ian Livingstone exactly means by “remarkable things,” perhaps a safe bet would be the added functionality of multiplayer in the Laraverse.

As E3 2009 closes in, we are still left guessing if Lara will even be making an appearance at the expo. Of Eidos’ portfolio, only Deus Ex 3 has so far been confirmed to be shown at the event. While fans of Tomb Raider are no doubt enthused at the prospect of a ninth Lara game, Crystal Dynamics would do well to focus on the more essential part of making a game — its development, rather than its advertisement.

Stay tuned to Tomb Raider Fanboy for all the latest and newest and Lara Croft and Tomb Raider.

Amelia Croft awarded Best Mom May 7, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Fan Pulse, Underworld.
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We all know the story of Amelia Croft and how she ended up in Helheim, mindless and seemingly with an appetite for blood. But before she was a thrall, she was a caring mother, and that’s what Kotaku saw in Amelia above all — “because not even good moms get it right all of the time — and how was she supposed to know that sword would teleport her, her husband would die and her daughter would be left an orphan?”

You can jump through here to read the full Mommy Dearest feature, presenting the best and worst mothers in gaming. Should be a good read considering it’s almost Mothers’ Day.

Lara Croft modeler teaches you how to create your own Lara model May 5, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Fan Pulse, Lara Croft, Underworld.
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Jonathan Rush, the man behind the character models for Tomb Raider Anniversary and the Wii version of Underworld, is set to give a workshop on “Modern Game Character Creation,” an eight-week course sponsored by CG Society.

The workshop will give you a hands-on experience creating and modeling your own character. Rush will guide you through the conceptual stage and the modeling stage itself covering various topics from hard surface modeling, detail-adding, creation of in-game mesh, adding textures, to adding the finishing touches to your own Lara Croft creation.

Registration’s until 21st May. Classes start on the 25th. Should be a good way to jump-start your career in the gaming biz. Just make this jump to CG Society for more details.

You can hop on to Jonathan Rush’s official website to view his own character creations, as featured in an earlier Fanboy post together with other unofficially released ‘Raider artworks.

Square bar-graphs Lara’s rise and fall (and rise) — in million units sold April 23, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Eidos, Lara Croft, Square Enix, Underworld.
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It’s one of those instances, really, when a picture — or in this case, a bar graph (an embiggable one) — says a thousands words, so sufficiently so that an appearance from Captain Obvious would already be an unwelcome distraction.

But that’s on the Tomb-Raider-rise-and-fall front.

Now that Tomb Raider among other Eidos franchises are technically under Square Enix following the recently concluded acquisition talks, the Japanese publisher is tracking their key franchises’ lifetime sales, yielding a sigh-inducing reminder of how big Lara was…back in the day. Here’s a jump to Square Enix’s full (PDF) report on the acquisition deal.

Lara’s Shadow — A Stunning Mix of the Old and the New March 11, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfangirl in 360 DLC, Underworld.
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laras-shadow-smallThe Doppelganger is awesome!!!  That is all.

Alright, alright, I’m sure you’re expecting a more detailed review so here we go 😀  Lara’s Shadow presents the Doppelganger’s story after Underworld, starting with the last time we saw her in the main game.  We see that cutscene again, then we have to work our way through the final portion of Helheim from the main game (except it is in ruins).  From there we go to another Helheim-esque Atlantean ruin full of Eitr in which we have to activate a giant machine.  We then have a short time lapse which skips us to the ending cutscene from Beneath the Ashes (nothing from BtA is playable in LS, although we do find out what Lara said to the Doppelganger this time around).  After that, it’s back to the Atlantean ruin to retrace our steps and play with the machine some more.  This part was a bit repetitive and I would have preferred if it was a bit different somehow so that the second time through the area wouldn’t be nearly identical to the first, but this wasn’t enough to detract from the level for me.  The positives far outweigh the negatives.

The Doppelganger can jump much higher and farther than Lara could in Underworld.  Additionally, the Doppelganger has a meter for Shadow Power which can be used to climb certain rough walls, run quickly along a wall while holding onto a ledge with one hand, sprint and speed up her actions relative to enemies and the environment.  The Shadow Power can also be used in combat as a sort of bullet-time move when firing pistols, or as a power attack when punching or kicking.  The Doppelganger’s melee attacks are rather strong (although not as powerful as Thor’s Hammer, so the thralls are harder to kill than they were towards the end of Underworld with Mjolnir).  The combat was fun, but towards the end of the level I felt that there was too much of it and I would have preferred having fewer enemies to bother with while I was exploring the level.

The level design focuses extensively on traversal.  The environment is huge and requires taking a long winding path jumping all over the place and using the Shadow Power to climb.  There aren’t any actual puzzles, at least not in the sense of the puzzles found in Anniversary, Underworld, or Beneath the Ashes.  Lara’s Shadow focuses a lot more on seeing a place in the distance, figuring out how to get there, and then activating a mechanism, very much like the first few Tomb Raider games.  I prefer having dedicated puzzles in general, but for a DLC level it was a fantastic nostalgic feeling to have the Doppelganger running, jumping, climbing, and getting around levels just like the classic Tomb Raider games.  The braid was a nice touch toward furthering that nostalgic feeling as well.  Hopefully the next game will combine these positives with the kind of thought-provoking puzzles from BtA.

Overall I really enjoyed Lara’s Shadow.  I spent about 3-4 hours to win it with all 20 artifacts and the relic (plus I died a lot during the combat).  The Doppelganger looks and jumps like Lara used to in the older games and the level really made us run around and backtrack a bit like the older games required while the Shadow Power attacks were brand new along with the ability to seemingly slow down time (or increase the Doppelganger’s rate of perception) in order to get through environmental hazards.  As a result, Lara’s Shadow is a stunning mix of the old and the new.  Not to mention, the Doppelganger is truly badass in the cutscenes.  The Doppelganger is awesome!

Lara’s Shadow vignettes show superhuman speed and thrall-kicking action March 6, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in 360 DLC, Underworld.
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Eidos has released two new gameplay videos of Lara’s Shadow, one showing the doppelganger’s superspeedy traversal abilities (YouTubified here) and the other showing her shadow combat powers (shown above). Hop on to Tomb Raider Chronicles for the HQ version of the vignettes. Lara’s Shadow goes Live on 10th March.

Now, excuse us while we entertain a long-distance call from Persia.