Interviews

Looking Back... Tomb Raider: Legend

Crystal Dynamics takes us behind the scenes of Lara Croft's return to form

Most media starlets have to resort to plastic surgery in order to relaunch themselves - who can forget the press furore over Jade's new boobs? We certainly can't. Which is why we felt it time to investigate the men who made Lara cool again - nipping and tucking at her gameplay and figure until she became markedly less shit than she used to be. And at least 45% more kissable too, if you're not averse to fancying works of fiction. Speaking are the folk of Crystal Dynamics: Matthew Guzenda (senior producer) and Riley Cooper (principal designer).

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NU-LARA
Guzenda: Going from the Angel Of Darkness model, she was very stylised at that point so we wanted to make her look more human. Obviously she still looks very perfect in a lot of respects, as far as dimensions go, but her proportions now are far more human. In AOD if you compared her to the other characters, the others were quite realistic but she stood out. Now obviously, we didn't want to make her too realistic as you run into the whole 'uncanny valley' thing when it looks too close to a human person - you start seeing odd things... But we wanted to keep her a little more realistic. Lara Croft creator Toby Gard played a big part in that when he came back in. We'd gone through a couple of different models which I'd say were evolutionary from previous models, so then we moved onto this third base model that was pretty different. Which led to the fourth model which is the one we used.

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THE PRIME OF MS LARA CROFT
Guzenda: If you're looking at all the previous stories and games, Lara pretty much kills everybody she's interacting with or competing against. There really wasn't anything that we could continue, so we wanted to establish a Lara-world where there were other characters and enemies that we could continue instead of starting from scratch every time. It was also unclear why Lara was doing what she was doing, as she's obviously rich but she's really into archaeology and takes all these risks - and we wanted to add emotional background and flesh out her story. In past games there were one or two mentions of what happened to her mother. We knew something had happened in the Himalayas, but it wasn't very clear, so we thought that was a good way to tie in a few good storylines.

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THAT DRESS
Cooper: Of course, coming to a party she's going to dress appropriately, but in order to get into her mechanics, that dress would just not have worked!

Guzenda: The dress was definitely a key moment; when we were designing that level, it was always a part of the design. We're always very conscious about not exploiting her character. I mean, the cheap thing to do is to put Lara in a bikini everywhere, but that's just not something we would do as it is cheap! But we thought that having her in an expensive dress, which is something that Lara would wear, and then having that whole thing when she rips it - it's a cool thing to do, and still in line with the character.

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TOMB PHYSICS
Cooper: We set this as a goal really early on - although at first our efforts didn't quite fit in and it was hard to see whether people were actually going to understand what to do with it. But after a while, we managed to do some things that we thought were pretty cool. Flipping the block in the air by jumping on the other side of the see-saw was the most enjoyable thing to design, and the most fun to watch people play. We got all giddy when we watched it - it was great! The main thing we would have done if we'd had more time would have been more physics set-ups, but we were happy with what we did in what was new territory for all of us.

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