Tomb Raider: Underworld
Tomb Raider: Underworld, previously known as Tomb Raider 8 during early development, is the eighth game in the Tomb Raider series and the third game in the series to be developed by Crystal Dynamics. It will resume the adventure from where Tomb Raider: Legend left off, and will be set primarily in Southern Mexico, particularly in Chiapas,where Lara Croft uncovers portals between her current world and the underworld, Xibalba,that are opened during the five days of Wayeb' in the Maya calendar.Lara opens a portal near an ancient ballcourt, used to play ballgames often involving human sacrifice, which Mayans believed were the site of portals to Xibalba. Lara may also visit Australia, Easter Island, Rome and the Vatican, Mesopotamia, and the Golden Triangle, and is set "in places no-one has seen for centuries". It was announced in January 2008 that Tomb Raider Underworld will be released in the fourth quarter of 2008, as opposed to the third quarter as was previously planned.
In November 2007, Eidos was reported to have filed for a trademark on the phrase Tomb Raider Underworld.Eidos soon after reserved the Tomb Raider Underworld domain name.In December 2007, Eidos filed for a second trademark for Tomb Raider Underworld, reserving the right to provide "computer games that may be accessed network-wide by network users".In the January 2008 issue of the magazine Play, details from the "first-ever demo" of the game were revealed.SCi, which owns Eidos, officially announced Tomb Raider: Underworld on January 10, 2008 and confirmed that all platform versions of the game will be released simultaneously.
Differences from previous games
Pre-release screenshotDifferences from previous iterations in the series are that Lara's world will be an "interactive world that reacts and remembers", such that footprints left in the mud or mud transferred to Lara's knee from kneeling on the ground will be washed away by rain, the bodies of the foes she encounters will remain where she killed them, and any destruction to the environment she causes will be permanent. According to creative director Eric Lindstrom, this is "to not only reward the player for the effect they're having on the world, but to give them navigational aids."The game utilises an animation blending system that allows Lara to interact dynamically with her environment, such as pushing foliage aside with one or two hands, depending on if she is carrying a weapon.It also features a "hybrid lighting model that combines dynamic lights with carefully created light maps" and a weather system that changes the environment, for example, "If Lara’s negotiating a wet ledge she’s more apt to slip or lose grip," which makes "the environment ... her adversary" for a large part of the game.
Previously seen separate aspects of gameplay have been combined together for a new experience. Lindstrom explained that "in the past, there was climbing, and there was shooting, and there was puzzle solving. And they often didn't overlap. We've now integrated all of those elements."This installment also features a new melee combat system, requiring Lara in some instances to use "direct combat and evasive manoeuvres to distance herself from her attacker". Notably, Lara's bike, among other things, will be a key component in solving the puzzles she will encounter in her adventure.Pick-ups will have multiple uses as weapons and tools in interaction with the environment, and Lindstrom stated that Lara "can also split up her guns and fire at two different targets simultaneously,"or hold an item with one hand and fire a gun with the other.The grappling hook can now be stretched taut and used to push objects off ledges unlike in previous iterations, illustrating what project lead Rob Pavey said, that "Lara will be able to do anything that you'd expect her to be able to do," which he called "the big theme this year."Lindstrom describes this as "a philosophy called 'What Could Lara Do?'—WCLD. It's short-hand for having the player be able to use their own intuition about what someone with her abilities should be able to do in an environment such as this, and consistency across the different mechanics and abilities. If she can throw a grenade, then if she can pick up this pole, why can't she throw it?" Crystal Dynamics also aims to make the game non-linear, unlike Tomb Raider: Legend, and eliminate the need for hint icons that indicate the ability to interact with objects.
Aside from these changes, Lara's costume was redesigned and she no longer wears her trademark blue sleeveless top and khaki shorts, but instead, a dark brown halter top and black shorts. Additionally, her hair is no longer braided, but worn in a ponytail. According to Play, Lara "moves as good as she looks [and] no longer moves like a video game character" thanks to being fully motion captured.
These revelations and Play's assertions that this is the "first true next gen Lara" and "one big physics smorgasbord" which "looks altogether photo-real" have led to speculation that Tomb Raider: Underworld might be using a new game engine for its next-generation graphics rather than the Tomb Raider: Legend system used by Tomb Raider: Anniversary and Deus Ex 3, but Eidos has neither confirmed nor denied this.
Keeley Hawes will provide the voice of Lara in this installment, as she did in Anniversary and Legend. Olympic gymnast and NCAA Women's Gymnastics champion Heidi Moneymaker was the model used for motion capturing.