Hopefully Tomb Raider is taking some notes from Naughty Dog’s stellar Uncharted franchise.
Lara Croft makes her (hopefully) triumphant return into the gaming universe early next year, in Crystal Dynamics’ promising reboot, Tomb Raider. Although it is an origin story, the famously headstrong heroine seems more mature, and human, than ever before. Despite a visual overhaul, the classic platforming action that the franchise is famous for returns. From the demo shown at E3 earlier this year, it looks like the team at Crystal Dynamics has been more than a little bit influenced by Naughty Dog’s incredible Uncharted series (which itself was influenced by Tomb Raider). So what exactly can Tomb Raider learn from Nathan Drake’s adventures?
Epic Set Pieces
Will Tomb Raider include moments of brilliance, like the opening chapter of Uncharted 2?
One thing that Uncharted is famous for is its incredible set pieces. From falling out of the back of a train carriage hanging over a mountain-face to escaping safely from a crashing plane in the middle of a barren desert, the series has produced many a memorable moment for us gamers to treasure. Despite them feeling like parts of a movie, there is a degree of interactivity within in them that keeps the player within the game, instead of letting them sit and watch for a bit. On top of that, throughout the trilogy, they are never overused; less is most certainly more. From what we have seen so far, Crystal Dynamics are perfectly capable of creating scenes with the same intense action as in Uncharted; what they need to really focus on is making sequences that are spectacular and great to watch, but also interactive to keep the player involved, so as to avoid the Metal Gear Solid 4 “playing a movie” problem.
The original Metal Gear Solid for PS One showcased just how much of a difference a (ahem) solid acting cast can make, and ever since then new games have been trying to raise that bar and match Hollywood’s standards. Naughty Dog made sure to have their story brought to life with arguably the best cast in any game, ever. Bringing on board the likes of voice acting A-lister Nolan North to take the reigns of Nathan Drake, and Richard Mcgonagle taking on the character of Sully, alongside a plethora of other major players in the voiceover industry, was a very wise decision of the publisher. Not only did it make the game better, it also made the Uncharted-verse more engaging and believable. Besides just recording voices, all the actors did every bit of motion capture for the characters while they recorded the voices, so as to give extra authenticity to the roles. Obviously, it worked, and more games have been using this process since.
Snippets of Tomb Raider that have voice acting in are showing promise, with True Blood actress Camilla Luddington playing Lara with conviction and confidence, and one part of the E3 demo overhears a conversation between two background characters, who sounded gruff, authentic and realistic. Hopefully Crystal Dynamics keep up that level of quality throughout the acting department as a bad supporting cast can spell death for story rich games. Says Darrell Gallagher, head of studio at Crystal Dynamics,”This has been one of the most important jobs for us to get right. This Tomb Raider game is very different to any other and we are demanding far more from the voice and performance acting than ever before as we take the franchise in a new direction.”
True Blood actress Camilla Luddington will voice Lara in her upcoming adventure.
A Fresh Storyline
Will players develop the relationship with Lara that Crystal Dynamics are aiming for?
The wonderful thing about Uncharted’s base storyline is how simple it is. Naughty Dog’s writers took the classic treasure hunter movie plot seen in films like Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, updated it for the 21st century and let it flow from there. The final product is one of the best stories in gaming, if not in any multimedia format. Complex relationships between characters and the conflicts within the protagonist revealed in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception made for not only entertaining gameplay sequences, but heartfelt emotional scenes between multi-dimensional characters. More importantly, though, the emotional trials Drake is put through make the character seem like a real person, not just an accurately animated object on a screen.
A shipwrecked young woman having to survive on an island full of sinister males should, if pulled off well, evoke raw, human emotion from players of the game. Controversial scenes such as an attempted rape on Lara (which has become something of a hot topic, and it seems Crystal Dynamics may remove it from the final game) will assist in establishing a true connection with the heroine; seeing Lara in real danger will trigger emotions that have never really been felt by gamers before.
That’s our thoughts on what Tomb Raider could learn and borrow from the action-adventure king. Crystal Dynamics are creating something which glimmers with potential, and could be the biggest game of next year. What other elements from modern games would you like to see included in the Tomb Raider reboot? Sound off in the comments!