Archives for posts with tag: Tomb Raider

In a surprise move, Crystal Dynamics today announced that the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider will be an Xbox One exclusive.

Crystal Dynamics’ Darrell Gallagher took to the stage at Gamescom during Microsoft’s press conference this afternoon to announce the move, which has understandably upset a large number of the fans that bought into last year’s reboot. He later posted a blog entry to the game’s official tumblr account in an effort to shed some light on the move. Follow the link for the full story, but I’ve quoted a particularly relevant paragraph below:

Tomb Raider in 2013 was a success due in large part to your continued support. Our goal has always been to deliver something truly special with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Today’s announcement with Microsoft is one step to help us put Tomb Raider on top of action adventure gaming. Our friends at Microsoft have always seen huge potential in Tomb Raider and have believed in our vision since our first unveil with them on their stage at E3 2011. We know they will get behind this game more than any support we have had from them in the past – we believe this will be a step to really forging the Tomb Raider brand as one of the biggest in gaming, with the help, belief and backing of a major partner like Microsoft.

There’s a couple of things worth looking into here. Immediate reactions were that Microsoft had simply money-hatted themselves an exclusive, essentially paying for a game not to appear on their rival’s console. This may well be the case, but the text quoted above suggests, to me at least, that Microsoft may actually be helping to fund development in some way.

Of course, this is all speculation on my part, but let’s look a little closer. You’ll no doubt remember that Square-Enix were initially disappointed with the game’s sales – this, despite it moving an impressive 3.4 million copies in its first month on sale. Most games don’t get anywhere near that number, but it was a far cry from the 5-6 million the publisher wanted. Indeed, it would take the game until the end of 2013 to achieve profitability, suggesting that Square-Enix had pumped an enormous amount of money into its development and marketing.

Now, here’s where the speculation comes into play. Crystal Dynamics are going to want to build on the success they had with their previous title – Gallagher says as much in today’s blog post – and that suggests that the sequel will require a bigger spend than the first game if the developer is to realise their ambitions. Square-Enix will surely be loathe to pump as much money into the game this time, so perhaps they went looking for an external developer to prop up development?

It’s an interesting scenario – a third-party looking to a platform holder to complete a project – but it’s similar to what we saw with Titanfall. According to Geoff Keighley’s The Final Hours of Titanfall, the project was in dire straits; Respawn needed more funds to keep the project moving, funds that publisher EA was unwilling to give, with John Riccitiello, then-CEO of EA, referring to the project as “a massive economic problem”. Respawn shopped the project around, with Sony asking them to create a Vita game, before Microsoft stepped in and provided the funding that the studio needed to continue. That investment, of course, resulted in Titanfall being an Xbox/PC exclusive.

Of course, I’m not about to claim that Rise of the Tomb Raider was on the verge of being cancelled before this announcement – there’s absolutely nothing out there to support that – but perhaps Crystal Dynamics’ ambitions for the franchise are such that Square-Enix just don’t want to lay down the kind of money the developer is asking for. In this scenario, Microsoft stepping in to help nets them a big exclusive to tout on their platform while empowering Crystal Dynamics to realise their vision for the game.

Now, again, this is all speculation on my part, but it’s also the only scenario that really makes any sense to me. Keza MacDonald over at Kotaku points out that 69% of the sales of the recent Definitive Edition were on PlayStation 4, meaning an exclusivity arrangement with Microsoft essentially cuts out the vast majority of the series’ fans. Would Square-Enix really be happy with cutting out so many potential sales just to get a large chunk of change from Microsoft? I don’t know; while they’d have guaranteed income from such a deal, surely Crystal Dynamics wouldn’t be pleased about having their new game available to a subset of their potential fans, and a massive fall-off in sales between the first game and its sequel would surely damage the image of the series. It’s entirely possible that this is the case (and we’ll likely never know the level of investment from Microsoft), but I feel neither publisher nor developer would have gone for this deal if it didn’t benefit them both in some way other than a short-term cash injection.

Perhaps somewhere down the line it’ll all come out in the wash and we’ll find out for sure. For now, Microsoft will be hoping that Rise of the Tomb Raider will prove to be a system seller when it goes toe-to-toe with Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End when both games release next year.

Cross-posted on 16bitkings

Today, we have a Guest Editorial from writer Franki Webb, who gives us her take on the somewhat-controversial new Tomb Raider game, and the reactions to it that have been seen. Over to you, Franki!

I know the title of this article might strike you as common sense, but it surprises me how many people truly believe that discrimination can be easily justified especially within the gaming community. I was once someone who would never call someone out for saying an off-the-cuff racist comment or something that could be considered sexist. As I grew older I knew that my stance had to eventually change, because if people continued to say such demeaning words and if no one stood up against them the offenders would never realise how damaging their words were. I know some would say that they were just off-handed comments, but does that really make it okay? If we start using the excuse that offensive statements are “only words,” then doesn’t everything we say become meaningless?

I bring the subject up because of a recent development in the gaming industry; Lara Croft’s new back-story in the upcoming instalment. It’s not so much the changes to her character which have got me riled up, but the reaction certain male players have been having against female gamers, female gamers who feel uncomfortable with these alterations. Now, I’ll be the first one to defend the creator’s choice to make her character come across as a real human being capable of mistakes and fear. However, I do take issue with the developers’ choice to make her a victim of sexual harassment. The aggravated responses by men to these arguments when they are brought up just serves to remind how far behind the gaming community still is. I just find it difficult to stomach that Ron Rosenberg (executive producer) believes that to make Lara seem like a concrete person; an implied “rape scene” has to be included. Surely there are other ways to make her character’s past much more absorbing? I don’t even have a problem with the character’s said physical weakness in the beginning of the game – not even Batman started as crime-fighter, and I liked the inclusion of his training in the movie Batman Begins. It just seems like as time goes by and the media is becoming a little more open to female protagonists, they must find a way of reminding us that we are “only” women incapable of defending ourselves against the “power” of men.

The male gamers I’ve seen that have issues with women taking offense have only fueled my argument that this added element to the game is sexist. Take for example this comment I found on a recent news site:

“Like all feminazi she no doubt complained bitterly about the original version because of the objectification of a woman now complains because she appears to be the opposite. I would imagine her household is one hell of a place for a bloke unless he is the kind who likes being pussy whipped.”

Not only has he used the word, “feminazi” to get his misogynistic view across, but he also implies a sexist sentiment that the (female) writer’s household is somehow insufferable for men, because she dares to speak out against what she sees as insulting.

Give me Super Mario over Womb Raider any day!

Here’s another prime example of how men become defensive and use female attributes to criticize something that they don’t like about a certain character. I shouldn’t be implying that this attitude comes from only from a male’s perspective, truth be told I’ve seen equally sexist comments from female gamers too. This coincides with my own personal experiences. I was constantly told by my female friends that they had no or few female friends. As a gamer with a large group of female friends myself, I find this argument has absolutely no basis and it says something about you as person. When I invite friends over who happen to be female to play a few rounds of Halo, some start to become uncomfortable with the idea of females playing games. They have an insecurity, they feel like they’ve lost something which makes them unique within the gaming community. Time and time again I’ve heard the excuse that other women don’t “get” them, because they have more boyish interests. I’m not trying to dismiss their experiences, but as soon as you paint everyone with the same brush, you become just as bad as them. Even when you try to argue the fact that as women they should be offended by some of these overly sexualized designs, which are included in games, they become just as dismissive as male gamers.

Ron Rosenberg was noted to have said:

“[the players would say] ‘I want to protect her.’ There’s this sort of dynamic of ‘I’m going to this adventure with her and trying to protect her.’

The implication that Lara has to be protected from the men in the game, only perpetuates her feminine weakness to a crowd of mostly male gamers. Is this what young boys are brought up with? We don’t want our sons to think that they are somehow stronger than women and they’ve got to protect them from the evilness of other men. Joss Whedon, who is not only one of my writing heroes but also my favorite feminist, said it best:

“When I created Buffy, I wanted to create a female icon, but I also wanted to be very careful to surround her with men that not only have no problem with the idea of a female leader, but were in fact engaged and even attracted to the idea.”

And that is ultimately the problem, some game developers have a problem with creating a strong female character who is charge of not only themselves, but also the male characters of the game.

Franki Webb

After more than four years in development, Crystal Dynamics’ Lara Croft-starring reboot, simply titled Tomb Raider, releases today for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this series refresh since seeing it (via live stream, of course) at Microsoft’s E3 presser in 2011. The demo showed off an early section of the game, as Lara finds herself captured in a dank cave and struggles to free herself from captivity. It looked amazing; dark, atmospheric, lonely. I was hooked.

And so, without really knowing how it would turn out, I went ahead and ordered the top tier collectors edition. Thankfully, the game is great so far, though I’ve only played an hour or so. Admittedly, the opening sequence, that aforementioned cave escape scene, is a little bit too QTE-heavy, but it soon opens up and gives you a very useful bow, gleefully reminding me of my archery adventures in Skyrim. It’s an utterly gorgeous game as well – though I’ve only seen a small portion of the game so far, it’s certainly on par with the best that the Uncharted series has to offer.

There are other echoes of Nathan Drake’s adventures in the early sections too, as Lara clambers through environments in a similar manner, but the tone is markedly darker, and the environments immediately more open and traversable than Nate’s games. I’m looking forward to it opening up some more, and I’ve heard plenty of talk about Tomb Raider being possessed of a Metroidvania structure, with new gear opening up new paths in old environments. I can’t wait to get stuck in properly and flesh out the beautiful, deadly island of Yamatai.

And so we come to the main point of this piece. I said I bought the Collectors Edition, and it’d be cruel to not show it off a bit. So here is a new video (it’s been a while, eh?), showing off the big tin, the dirty (oo-er missus!) figure of Lara herself, the art book, map and… survival pouch? Just what is that thing for anyway? Enjoy the video, and leave me a comment if you’re getting stuck into Tomb Raider today. Or if you know what the hell the pouch is for.

99.9% of JSR soundtrack returns for HD outing
Sega have announced, via the humble art of the blog post, that “99.9%” of Jet Set Radio‘s original soundtracks will be brought back for the forthcoming HD re-release. Only two songs from across the Japanese, European and US soundtracks didn’t make it – Deavid Soul’s ‘Yappie Feet’ and ‘Many Styles’ by O.B. One.

The post refers to the list as the “worldwide soundtrack”, so I wonder if all three will be blended into one, or whether you’ll be able to select by region? Either way, this is great news considering what a huge part the music plays in the Jet Set experience. It’s even more pertinent when you think about what happened to the soundtrack for Crazy Taxi‘s HD appearance…

Ni No Kuni release date announced
Namco-Bandai has announced that Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch will launch in Europe on 25th January 2013.

The Level 5/Studio Ghibli-developed jRPG is currently being localised, with the dialogue being re-dubbed in English, and subtitles added for French, German, Spanish and Italian. However, the game will also include the original Japanese voicework, playable with English subtitles.

It’s been a long time coming, but, as I found out at last week’s MCM Expo, Ni No Kuni will be well worth the wait.

New Tomb Raider trailer gives away release date
Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider reboot will be released on March 5 2013, a new trailer has revealed.

The brutal trailer, which you can see below, shows a young Lara Croft struggling to stay alive, fending off attacks by humans and animals alike, as well as using a bow and arrow to hunt a deer for it’s meat. The trailer is interspersed with footage of plenty of massive set-pieces, and, dare I say it, seems a little reminiscent of Uncharted in places (ironic, no?). With that said, it also looks far darker than any of Drake’s (or indeed Lara’s) adventures to date.

Doom 3 BFG edition announced
A remastered and expanded version of Doom 3, dubbed the BFG Edition, has been announced for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 by iD Software.

This new version features remastered graphics, 5.1 surround sound, and support for 3D and head mounted displays. Also included are the original Doom, Doom 2, the Resurrection of Evil expansion pack and the never-before-seen Lost Mission, a separate story set across seven new levels.

Best of all? The game now features an armour-mounted flashlight so you can finally see and shoot at the same time!










Square-Enix’s promising-looking Lara Croft reboot has been pushed back to Q1 2013, developer Crystal Dynamics has announced.

Community Manager Meagan Marie took to the developer’s forums to post a message from Crystal Dynamics’ studio head Darrell Gallagher. The message is reproduced below:

A Message to the Tomb Raider Community

When Crystal Dynamics first set out to reboot the Tomb Raider franchise, there were two goals that we were extremely passionate about. The first was to create a modern Tomb Raider game that would surprise and excite gamers. The second was to make this the best game of our careers, something we would be really proud to be a part of. We truly believe that we have something very special on our hands and we can’t wait to share it with you.

Our priority now is to make sure we fully deliver the very highest quality game. In order to do this, we have decided to move the game’s release date by a few months, from Fall 2012 to the first quarter of 2013.

We’re doing things that are completely new to Tomb Raider in this game and the additional development time will allow us to put the finishing touches into the game and polish it to a level that you deserve. We believe this is the right choice and I guarantee it will be worth the wait. The game is looking amazing and we can’t wait to show it to everyone at E3 in a few weeks.

Darrell Gallagher

Personally, I think this is a good idea. The game is an unknown quantity at this point; sure, it looks impressive – in fact, I can’t wait to get my mitts on it – but whether it’ll sell or not is another story. It may be the ninth entry in a highly recognisable series, but everything we’ve seen so far appears to be pretty far removed from the Tomb Raider we’ve known since its inception.

Pushing the game to next year suggests Crystal Dynamics and publisher Square-Enix may feel the same. By taking it out of the end-of-year release madness and releasing it in the generally sparse early months of the year (when there will likely be far less competition) will no doubt give it a chance of greater sales.

In other Square-Enix news, the publisher today announced they were back to profitability, after posting a 12 billion yen loss last year. The publisher pointed to strong sales of both Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Final Fantasy XIII-2, helping the company to post a profit of six billion yen for the financial year.

I do wonder if this will influence what we’ll see at E3 next month. Will we get some announcements we might otherwise have lost out on? We’ll have to see, but seeing as 2012 is the 25th anniversary of the Final Fantasy franchise, I’m expecting something big. 





Maybe I’ll even get that IV DS-style remake of Final Fantasy VI I’ve been clamouring for…