The greatly anticipated return of Lara Croft may have been delayed but that has by no means diminished the desire of true Tomb Raider fans to see their favorite heroine again.
Angel of Darkness was pushed back to a February 2003, from the expected November 2002 release date. Probably the most popular game franchise and certainly the most memorable character will be back, but what has caused the archaelogist/explorer, to rise again?
A series of grisly murders brings Lara into conflict with a sinister Alchemist from the past, and a secret alliance of powerful individuals shrouded in mystery. At the center of these mysteries are the Obscura Paintings - five 14th century pieces of art that the Alchemist is desperate to repossess. Accused of the murder of her one time mentor, Werner Von Croy, Lara becomes a fugitive on the run. Pursued by the police, she follows the Alchemist into a dark world of blood, betrayal and vengeance where it is up to her to defeat this unholy alliance, and stop them from unleashing their incredible powers on the world.
As you can probably tell by the story, Lara is about to reveal certain aspects of her character never before seen by the gaming public. All of those who have experienced the game first-hand, in some form or other, refer to a darker, more sinister Lara.
[[All About Lara]]
Although thoroughly documented, Lara's past remains the best way to witness the character's development and to seek possible and plausible explanations as to what may have led to her darker side surfacing in Angel of Darkness.
Lara was independent and outgoing at school always preferring individual to team sports. Whilst at Gordonstoun she excelled at rock climbing, canoeing, horse riding and archery. A natural athlete she discovered a passion for firearms as an extra-curricula activity but was 'discouraged' by the school authorities. Later, in her Swiss finishing school, she developed her interest in firearms by charming her way onto the Swiss Armed Forces training range where she proved to be a natural and qualified marksman class. Later in life she felt drawn to fast vehicles and any form of extreme sports, just to keep me in trim.
Finding her Calling
As the daughter of Lord Henshingly Croft, Lara was used to the security of an aristocratic background. Predictably she rebelled against the more confining aspects of her upbringing but when she moved to Gordonstoun in 1984 the mountains of Scotland gave her an unprecedented degree of freedom. Her world changed further when she came across the work of Professor Werner Von Croy and heard him lecture about his archaeological career. The experience had a profound effect on Lara, triggering a passion for remote locations and adventure.
First Field Trip
She discovered that Von Croy was preparing for an archaeological expedition into Asia and persuaded her parents to let her accompany him. Von Croy was persuaded after being promised financial assistance for the expedition. He was also impressed by the young amazon's enthusiasm and energy. She could obviously take care of herself and the experience would be a unique educational opportunity. This set the pattern for the rest of her life. For the first time she experienced the hazards and mysteries of the ancient world of antiquities. Terrifying dangers became an accepted part of her life from then on. In the intervening years she has combated ancient mythical forces, survived a Himalayan plane crash, outgunned heavily armed opponents and always emerged with the prize.
Despite inheriting the Croft mansion in Surrey she lives the same way she prefers to work - alone. In her rambling home she has installed a custom-built assault course and shooting range. With her unique physical abilities, Lara is certain of being able to break many world athletic records but sees no challenge in this for herself. It lacks the necessary ingredient of danger. The huge rooms of the mansion are useful for storing the many artifacts she has acquired in her adventures. There is also adequate space for her favorite vehicles. Anything on two wheels over 650 cc's is considered acceptable but she finds both the Triumph Speed Triple and the Harley V-Rod especially attractive.
Apart from her archeological successes Lara is proud of achievements in other areas too -she has driven the dangerous Alaskan Highway from Tierra del Fuego in South America in record time. This little escapade resulted in worldwide headlines confirming the opinion of the established Antiquities community that she was a loose cannon. She loves this profile but generally shuns the media spotlight as it interferes with her Tomb Raiding activities.
Events in recent times have cast a shadow over Lara's life. She went missing presumed dead after a disastrous field trip to the Egyptian tombs with Von Croy. She refuses to confirm or deny rumors about time spent amongst obscure North African tribes but whatever happened after Egypt she has become almost a recluse since her return to the Croft ancestral home in Surrey.
If you find this brief history of Lara inadequate you should move on to The Complete Lara Croft.
There you will also find the pictures and video Lara tried to ban.
Lara's developers have identified four categories in order to best describe the game's features,
While the game progresses, players will be able to improve Lara's abilities and witness her adapt to how they play the game. Players are rewarded for puzzle solving and exploration in the form of improvements to Lara's jumping ability, brainpower, upper body strength etc.
For the very first time in a Tomb Raider game, Lara has the ability to talk to characters. The choices you make i.e. being agressive or friendly to a character in conversation will affect Lara's route through the game.
Cutting Edge Graphics
Brand new game engine designed to fully utilize the power of PlayStation2. Lara is now made up of over 5,000 polygons as opposed to just 500 in previous games.
Take more direct and fluid control over Lara with an entirely new control system and experience new levels of gameplay with hand-to-hand combat, stealth attacks, last chance grabs and more.
Angel of Darkness will feature great advances in graphics, but what does Lara will be made up of 5,000 polygons, actually mean? I'll leave it to Tomb Raider developer, Adrian Smith to explain, there are 5,000 polys on Lara alone: we were struggling to do that on Ps1 in an entire scene. It's a massive jump forward.
The animation, AI, and physics systems that were designed for this game are miles past what they were on PS1. Core has been able to generate amazing and detailed lighting effects and other special effects with an incredible amount of detail on the PS2.
What most insiders suggest however, claim is that the really great change is not in the graphics improvements but in gameplay. The really troubling and dark aspects of Lara's character are best explored through the various new gameplay techniques which will be introduced in AOD.
Eidos producer Mike Schmitt, Some of the biggest new features in Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness are: Lara's ability to converse with other characters, to upgrade her various abilities during the game, to play as another character (Kurtis), and to use new stealth moves as well as some interesting hand-to-hand moves. Also, the game is just much more in-depth than the previous titles, expressing a more mature and darker storyline. The gameplay will be a combination of familiar Tomb Raider elements (action, adventure, puzzles) with some new elements introduced (stealth areas, questioning other characters, more investigation aspects). As for targeting, it's a new system with some similar elements from the old games. There is more control for the user in locking on targets and cycling through targets.
Even though some radical changes in gameplay (who would want to play as any character other than Lara?), will be introduced some of the trademark aspects of the game will remain. For a start, climbing on boxes is here to stay; but the most important part of TR gameplay has been puzzle solving and according to Scmitt A number of familiar Tomb Raider puzzle ideas may resurface in new form. Puzzles will be much larger in overall scope; there will be many pieces for large tasks. Lara will converse often with other characters and gather info and items, too. And the way she deals with these non-player characters, whether it's passive or aggressive, may determine different outcomes in the game.
The new game will feature the traditional TR viewpoint but Eidos assures us that many more cinematic cameras will feature, like cameras on baddie trigger points, giving the game an impressive look.
Who the... is Kurtis?
Eidos and Core are keeping details about Kurtis' character to themselves. A man of mystery until February 2003, at least. Some information on the gameplay associated with the new, I repeat playable, character in AOD have been released.
Kurtis' basic controls will be similar to Lara's, but his animations will be different and players will find that he has a couple of alternate moves. He will carry a couple of different weapons, such as the pistol with a laser-targeting system, and his flying discglade, which can be used to target and attack multiple enemies in one big swoop.