Crystal Dynamics: "Lara's never really had a personality"

New Tomb Raider uses big cast to help Lara establish herself.

Crystal Dynamics' Karl Stewart has said that the latest Tomb Raider game includes a large cast of supporting characters so Lara Croft can establish her personality by talking to other people - something he feels hasn't happened in previous games.

"One of the key learnings that we've had from Tomb Raiders in the past is that Lara's never really had a personality. She's kind of been a caricature of herself," Stewart told Eurogamer at a pre-E3 event in May.

"When you look at examples of successful franchises - and namely you look at Lost as a great example - Lost thrust these seven, 10, 12 people, whatever it was, onto an island and they had to interact with each other, and as a result you got to know them more.

"You got their personalities. What we find is that by [having a large supporting cart] each one has their own trait, and Lara has to interact with them, and as a result she talks with them differently and you start to learn more about her. So it's a great way for us to show more about a character who up until now has always been one-dimensional."

Stewart, who is Tomb Raider's global brand director and works alongside the development team day to day, said the studio had to put its "balls to the wall" to re-imagine Lara.

"We've tried to set the foundation for the future of our franchise by going in and telling a story in the first hour or two that helps ground it," he said.

"I think, given how iconic Lara Croft is and how she's been around for 15 years, to re-imagine it, there's a lot of cynicism [about that]. To re-imagine it really well, you have to put your balls to the wall and take that chance of, you know, let's take the first 90 minutes and break her down, but then build her back up in a way where people will go, 'Now you've just set the foundation for who she is for the rest of her days.'"

We've now seen quite a lot of that first 90 minutes - over last year's E3 reveal, where Lara was shipwrecked and captured and had to escape from a cave, and this year's extensive demo, where Lara learns to survive and gets to confront her enemies on the island.

Tomb Raider is due out for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in the first quarter of 2013. It was originally due out at the end of 2012, but was delayed so that Crystal Dynamics would have time to do it justice.

"Our focus is on making sure we deliver this experience from start to finish at the quality from start to finish," Stewart told us after showing off the impressive E3 2012 demo. "Setting it up in the first hour and a half is no good if you don't see it all the way through."

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