Tomb Raider VII named
And Toby Gard wants to take it back to the tomb, apparently. Because putting Lara in Paris is "like putting Batman in California".
The next instalment in the Tomb Raider series will be subtitled Legend, with project lead Toby Gard aiming to modernise Lara Croft's image but find a way back to the tomb raiding action of earlier instalments, according to a preview in a US magazine.
Gard was last year reunited with the series he created and then left behind in its infancy, after the failure of 2003's Angel of Darkness forced publisher Eidos to wrest control of the franchise from Core Design and put US outfit Crystal Dynamics in the driving seat, where the veteran designer duly turned up.
And he's wasted no time trying to infuse the series with some of its old magic ahead of its seventh instalment - potentially the most important since the original - judging by the US preview.
Gard wants a return to the action of early instalments, taking a swipe at the Paris sections of Angel of Darkness and likening their inclusion to "putting Batman in California". He wants to go "back to basics".
He's also overseen the traditional revamp of his Lara Croft character, who is now "positively dripping polygons" according to one extremely zealous fan here, who said he would offer more reasoned insight "If only my hands would stop shaking long enough to type." That's not why they're shaking, son.
"My goal was to make the old girl look a bit different," Gard told PSM in the US, "Something more modern, more up-to-date." The result is a slightly shorter and rounder face with a more human look, auburn hair and in-ear comms device.
Lara retains her trademark ponytail, backpack and twin pistols hugging her hips, and reports claim she's got grenades and binoculars on her belt and side compartments in her backpack - the latter a reflection of the degree to which the fans are analysing the high-res images that accompanied the PSM piece.
Sadly we can't publish those for fear of copyright infringement or some other legal rubbish that protects magazines from having their exclusives blown online days before they're even printed. (Not that we can help it if you find things elsewhere.) But Gard adds that he's trying "to find a balance between the caricature that Lara was and the need to be more realistic".
With Tomb Raider: Legend almost certain to appear at E3 - assuming Eidos' current well publicised financial issues are resolved or postponed to some degree - we should be able to tell you whether he managed that in late May. For the time being though, boring name aside the game sounds in a lot better shape than it might have been. We await the final result with interest.
Tomb Raider: Legend is due out in Eidos' fiscal year 2006, which runs until the end of June next year, and is expected to appear on several formats including PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and Xbox 2.