Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tomb Raider



Tomb Raider
Developer - Core Design
Publisher - Eidos Interactive
Release date – 25 October 1996

Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. It was originally released in 1996 for Sega Saturn, PlayStation and MS-DOS.


Story

The story opens with a prologue in Los Alamos County, New Mexico, when a nuclear test causes a great explosion which exposes an ancient device buried beneath the desert surface. The device unlocks and reveals a person in suspended animation. The story then continues in the present day.


At a hotel in Calcutta, Lara Croft is approached by an American named Larson Conway, who works for the wealthy businesswoman Jacqueline Natla, owner of Natla Technologies. At Natla's request, Lara sets out on an expedition to recover a mysterious artefact called the Scion (/ˈskiː.ɒn/) from the lost tomb of Qualopec, in the mountains of Peru. After successfully retrieving the object, she is attacked by Larson who attempts to claim it. She beats him then questions him, learning that the artefact she has is only a fragment and that a man named Pierre Dupont has been hired by Natla to collect the rest.


Gameplay

In Tomb Raider, the player controls the archaeologist Lara Croft, in search for the three mysterious Scion artefacts across the world. The game is presented in third person perspective. Lara is always visible and the camera follows the action from behind or over her shoulder. The world she inhabits is fully drawn in three dimensions and characterised by its cubic nature. Ledges, walls and ceilings mostly sit at 90 degrees to each other, but sometimes feature sloping planes.

The object of Tomb Raider is to guide Lara through a series of tombs and other locations in search of treasures and artefacts. On the way, she must kill dangerous animals and other creatures, while collecting objects and solving puzzles to gain access to an ultimate prize, usually a powerful artefact. Gunplay is restricted to the killing of various animals that appear throughout each stage, although occasionally Lara may be faced with a human opponent. Instead the emphasis lies on solving puzzles and performing trick jumps to complete each level. As such, Tomb Raider in essence harkens back to the classical form of platform style gameplay.


Features

Movement in the game is varied and allows for complex interactions with the environment. Besides walking, running, and jumping, Lara can perform side-steps, hang on ledges, roll over, dive, and swim through water. In a free environment, Lara has two basic stances: one with weapons drawn and one with her hands free. By default she carries two pistols with infinite ammo. Additional weapons include the shotgun, dual magnums and dual Uzis. At a certain point in the story, Lara will be stripped of all her weapons, leaving the player defenceless and forced to recover her pistols, a development which later became a staple of the series. Numerous enemies as well as a variety of lethal traps can bring about Lara's death in Tomb Raider, the most important threat of which is falling to death. As the game adopts a platform style approach of progress, well timed jumps must often bring Lara safely to the other side of a ledge or she will plummet to the ground below. Other means by which the game will prematurely end include death by burning, drowning, electrocution, becoming impaled on spikes, killed by human enemies, or creatures and even being turned into gold by the hand of Midas.

A general action button is used to perform a wide range of movements in Tomb Raider, such as picking up items, pulling switches, firing guns, pushing or pulling blocks, and grabbing onto ledges. Regular items to pick up include ammo, and small and large medi-packs. Game-specific items are keys and artefacts required to complete a stage. Any item that is collected is held onto in Lara's inventory until it is used. The puzzles that the player encounters across each level vary: pulling specific combinations of levers, a course of timed jumps, avoiding a certain trap or collecting several keystones. Throughout each stage, one or more secrets may be located. Discovering these secrets is optional, and when the player has found one a tune plays. The locations of these secrets vary in difficulty to reach. Some are hidden along the roadside in bushes, others require the completion of a hidden course or optional puzzle to be found. The player is usually rewarded with extra items.

In the Sega Saturn and PlayStation versions of Tomb Raider, saving the game is restricted to fixed save points within each level, marked by a floating blue crystal or by completing the level. When Lara touches one of these the option to save is made available. The scarcity of these points, however, means that if the player dies, large portions of each level must be replayed. Following criticism on this system, Core implemented a save anywhere at any time feature in Tomb Raider II. The DOS version of the game allows the player to save at any time. A stage is finished when a certain doorway is reached, an artefact is recovered, or a boss is destroyed.


Development

Preliminary work on Tomb Raider commenced in 1993. The title was crafted by Core Design of Derby, England, who took 18 months to develop it. The team consisted of six people, among them Toby Gard, who is credited with the creation of Lara Croft. The character went through several changes before Core settled on the version she became famous for. In its earliest conception, Lara Croft was a male placeholder for an as yet undefined character, but as Core decided that puzzles and stealth should be more important to the game than action, they found that these requirements better suited a female character than a classic male action hero.

Lara Croft was originally born under the name "Laura Cruz". As her backstory began to take shape and it was decided that she would become more English and that it would be a major part of who the character was, her first and last names were changed to reflect this. According to Toby Gard, the idea to make her more akin to a female Indiana Jones was not present from the beginning. In fact, in early concepts, Lara originally had a cold-blooded militaristic-type personality, but Gard and the team decided to create and play up the "proper English lady" aspect of her character to establish that there was more to Lara's personality and life than just her immediate actions during Tomb Raider's gameplay. During some interviews, Toby Gard has also claimed that he changed the character from male to female because he decided that if he had to stare at the character's backside for hours on end while designing and playtesting the game, it might as well be an attractive female backside—although this is assumed to be a joke on the part of Gard, poking fun at the attention Lara was receiving for her sex appeal and had little if any actual sway into the final decision to make Lara a woman.

The front of the Derby Studios building where Core Design worked on the game was later used as the front of Croft Manor. It is Core's contention that the company was struggling somewhat with 32-bit development at that time. The first glints of the game were seen on Sega Saturn development kits. However, while the series would see four more instalments on the original PlayStation, no additional Tomb Raider games were ever released for the Saturn following the original. Additional Sega ports were released on Dreamcast.


Music

The music for Tomb Raider was composed by Nathan McCree. Unlike most other games of the time, there was not a musical track playing constantly throughout the game; instead, limited musical cues would play only during specially-selected moments to produce a dramatic effect, such as enhancing tension during an action sequence or accompanying the discovery of a hidden secret. For the majority of the game, the only audio heard is action-based effects (e.g. footsteps or explosions), atmospheric sounds (like the roar of a nearby waterfall), and Lara's own grunts and sighs, all of which were enhanced because they did not have to compete with music. The game uses a solo oboe melody for the main theme. Variations of this main theme have been used throughout all of the Tomb Raider games. The soundtrack of Anniversary was composed by Troels Brun Folmann, but loosely based on the original.

The symphonic sounds of the earlier games were created using Roland Corporation's Orchestral Expansion board for their JV series keyboards.

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