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Tomb Raider Reboot: Why Multiplayer?

by on02/14/2013
 

“I finally set out to make my mark.  To find adventure.  But instead … adventure found me.”

 

On September 15, 1996, Core Design & Eidos Interactive introduced the world to a beautiful, intelligent and athletic British archaeologist named Lara Croft.  And we immediately fell in love with this puzzle solving heroine!

We explored the world with her in search of rare items & mystical relics in her various adventures:

  • 1996   Tomb Raider   Explored the ruins of Atlantis
  • 1997   Tomb Raider II   Searched for the Dagger of Xian
  • 1998   Tomb Raider III   Looked for meteorite fragments that gave superhuman powers
  • 1999   Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation   We meet a young Lara & her mentor Werner von  Croy they search for Egyptian artifacts
  • 2000   Tomb Raider (Game Boy Advance release)   Searched for the Nightmare Stones
  • 2000   Tomb Raider Chronicles (Sequel to the Last Revelation)   With Lara presumed dead, her friends remember their past adventures
  • 2001   Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword (Game Boy Color release)   Lara faces off against a cult in New Orleans
  • 2002   Tomb Raider: The Prophecy (Game Boy Advance release)   A search for three magical stones to stop the Teg-du-Bhorez cult
  • 2003   Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness   Lara investigates the murder of her mentor von Croy
  • 2006   Tomb Raider: Legend   The first reboot of the series which focuses on a search for Excalibur and her mother – Amelia Croft
  • 2007   Tomb Raider: Anniversary   An HD remastering of the original Tomb Raider game
  • 2008   Tomb Raider: Underworld   We continue the search for Lara’s mother
  • 2010   Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light   Lara tries to find the lost Mirror of Smoke (this was the first downloadable game which allowed two player co-op)

“In our darkest moments, when life flashes before us, we find something … something that keeps us going … something that pushes us … “

 It has been almost seventeen years since our first adventure with Lara.  And now, in less than a month, we will pick up our controllers and set off on a new expedition in the Devil’s Triangle.

We will explore new ruins, find lost artifacts and … fight the crazed denizens that strive to protect their secrets.  But, this time – Lara … is different.

She has just graduated from college, new to the world of archaeology, and wants to make her mark in the world.  However, Fate is not kind.

This frightened young woman must learn how to survive:  find food & water, locate any survivors and defend herself – from the predators of this land.  Animals are not the only ones hunting her … there are also others looking for her crew.

How will Lara evolve from a shivering girl into the seasoned adventurer we all know her to be?  Will she be able to keep her wits to find her crew and leave this island – alive?

Only you can help her … in this newest adventure from Crystal Dynamics & Square Enix.

“A famous explorer once said: ‘That the extraordinary is in what we do … not who we are.'”

 But this time – something new has been added:  Multi-Player Mode?

According to Karl Stewart (Global Brand Director, Crystal Dynamics) & Noah Hughes (Creative Director, Tomb Raider), the game first started out as the original solo game.  However, with the success of Guardian of Light, they asked themselves: “What about Multi-Player?  Tomb Raiding together would be fun!”

But they didn’t want to this mode feel like it was just “slapped on.”  So, they turned to Joe Khoury (Eidos Montreal, Multi-Player Producer).

Khoury’s premise was that there are three main pillars to the game:  Survival, Traversing and New Weapons/Characters.

But, at the same time, Lara’s bow is an iconic part of the game.  How will it work all this into co-op setup?

The decision was made that they would give this mode as much of the game’s atmosphere as possible:

  1. There are two four player teams:  The Survivors  vs. The Scavengers
  2. Maps will  be based on the environments from the game – navigation dependent on using zip lines, stone bridges and climbing wall faces with your axe
  3. You can also hinder the opposing team with ancient traps or booby traps

“You can do it Lara … after all, you’re a Croft.”

But, will it work?

In all of our previous twelve adventures with Lara – we have been alone.  We fought with her to survive the deadly traps, unknown environments, fierce beasts and ruthless mercenaries to find our way to the prize at the end.

However, when Crystal Dynamics took over the franchise, they added this new mode to Guardians.  Did they ever ask the gamers if they wanted it?

I never got the questionnaire!

And I am sure I am not the only one who is opposed and/or skeptical that this will add anything to the flavour of the game.

“I don’t think I’m that kind of Croft.  Sure you are … you just don’t know it yet.

First, the market is over saturated with multi-player games!

Every popular FPS (first person shooter) that has come out in recent years has had some type of multi-player mode!

  1. Borderlands
  2. Call of Duty
  3. Far Cry
  4. Gears of War
  5. Halo
  6. Left 4 Dead

And the list goes on … and on … and on … when will the insanity end?!

I know the developers think that if they add co-op to the game, they will open a new window to untapped players (and money) who have never touched a Tomb Raider game.

But, did they ever think that it will also have a negative effect of watering down the intensity of the solo mode?

Why add a mode when it’s not need?

The game initially was created to bring back the glamour & intrigue of doing something most of us could NEVER do in our lifetimes:  Explore ancient ruins for “fortune & glory.”  (a la Indiana Jones)

I have played co-op games before, and after a while, they all start to merge together!  One game is just the same as another … with all of the same types of maps/modes (Capture the Flag, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Domination …).

Why does every game developer decide: “This company is doing it … why don’t we do it too?”

The whole idea of the franchise is solo play.  Not everyone enjoys playing with others online.  (Or wants to:  listen to profanity, watch childish behaviour and/or hear baseless accusations of ‘he’s cheating!’)

Come on Developers!!!  Create something more original!

“Sometimes you’ve got make sacrifices, Lara.  You can’t save everyone.”

Second, isn’t the Tomb Raider co-op the same as an Uncharted 3 with a multi-player mode?

Naughty Dog used the Uncharted atmosphere to create maps and game mechanics to allow players to hunt down other gamers in familiar surroundings.

Now, Crystal Dynamics is doing the same thing.

Didn’t they think that we would notice the similarities?

What happened to all the original ideas?  Were they all used up?

Do something else!  You don’t need to copy other multi-player games to be successful!

“There’s no other choice … I’ve got to do this.”

Third, if you’re going to make a co-op game based on Tomb Raider, why not add some of the nuances that make it – PUZZLES?!

I know that they are incorporating some of the ancient technologies (like the lightning rod trap), but is that enough to distinguish it from Uncharted?

Since Lara’s Bow will be used in both sides of the game, why not level the playing field?

How is it fair that the Survivors who use a bow have to fight the Scavengers equipped with a semi-automatic?  Which one would you choose?

Even though the teams are not locked into using the bow, why choose/add it if you don’t need to?

If that’s the case, NO ONE will use that silent killer!

Then this mode will just become another run and gun multi-player game in a different environment.

Add an advantage for using the less deadly weapon:  A sniping point that is inaccessible unless you can solve the puzzle traps locking the player in?

Or would that be too difficult/time consuming for the fast-paced players who populate these games?

All they want to do is shoot players in the back and then mock them until they respawn?

Then why not make it a spawning point for a game changer?  Spike traps in the Survivors’ territory?

Finally …

“If I don’t survive … none of us will.”

Why not make areas exclusive for either side?

For example, the Survivors can play a [Insert ancient civilization here] Death Trap mode: One group wanders a maze – while the other watches in hiding to trigger the traps?

Or why not something similar:  One side has to wander through the same maze with traps that are randomised?  Some are duds and some are live?

See how long they live?  Can they reach the Survivors’ in the labyrinth’s centre?

For the Scavengers’ side, how about a fortified area that the Survivors have to storm?  But, the area is littered with fake supply cases, falling bridges, or snare traps?

There are all sorts of possibilities to add the traps to maps!  But, will this make the co-op too much of a smart players’ game?

“When all seemed lost, I found a truth … and I knew what I must become.”

For those of us who grew up with Lara, watching her shimmy, wiggle, crawl and swing her way into our hearts (plus gun down a few guards & solve some puzzles along the way):  Is this the end of our beloved game?

Why couldn’t they just leave a good thing alone?

We have seen our Lara blossom into a heroic adventuress:  from the depths of Atlantis, to the sandy pyramids of Egypt, to the back streets of New Orleans and into the jungles of the Mayan.  And now, she will creep her way once again into ancient ruins of an unknown civilization!

Will it all be worth the wait?  Will this new co-op mode be the Golden Idol?

Or will it be the giant rolling boulder trap that leads into a tribe of angry Hovitos?

Only a few more weeks to go and we’ll see if Crystal Dynamics & Square Enix “has chosen wisely” or if Lara will ascend to the heavens like a certain Crystal Skull!  (Sorry for all the Indy references … I couldn’t help it!)

I guess we’ll find out …

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