Eidos unveils new Lara Croft

First official details released on Tomb Raider: Legend, Lara's seventh adventure; Xbox version confirmed. First shots inside.

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After two years of shrouding it in secrecy, Eidos Interactive today took the wraps off the seventh Tomb Raider game. Previously, it had been referenced to only obliquely in financial reports by the British publisher, and never before by name.

Today, the public got the first official information about Tomb Raider: Legend. Since the game has the ignominious distinction of following Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, one of the most poorly reviewed games in the series, Eidos began with a lengthy introduction about the new "brand direction" Legend will take.

According to a statement by Eidos, its new developer, internal studio Crystal Dynamics, "embarked on their own quest to rediscover Lara Croft." During its "soul-searching mission," the development team apparently replayed and reread every review of every previous Tomb Raider game. The team also "listened to lots of passionate pleas and opinions from gamers" while conducting extensive focus testing. They also hired Toby Gard, one of the creators of the original Tomb Raider at Core Design, to "oversee" the project (albeit at a late date).

"In setting the stage for the Tomb Raider franchise moving forward, we took ourselves back to Lara's origins, asked ourselves the hard questions and challenged ourselves to think differently," said Eidos brand marketing VP Chip Blundell. "Who is Lara Croft? What makes her tick? How is she relevant today? Only by answering these questions could we ensure that gamers get the experience they deserve with the character they love."

After assuring readers that the mistakes of Angel of Darkness would not be repeated, Eidos went on to describe Tomb Raider: Legend--in the broadest terms possible. Besides saying it "reinvigorates the fundamental explore-and-solve adventure experience" that originally made the franchise popular, the statement said nothing about Legend's gameplay or story.

Instead, Eidos focused on the newly redesigned Lara Croft. After describing how she will sport "intricately animated expressions, moves and abilities," the company said the new Lara's "look and movements [will] be an inherent extension of her skills, motivation and personality."

However, knowing that a picture is worth a thousand words, Eidos also released the first character model of the new Lara Croft (pictured). Looking more athletic and less buxom than previous incarnations--and nothing like Angelina Jolie, who played her in the Tomb Raider films--the new Lara also sported a redder shade of hair. Eidos comments that "Lara's character model features natural structure, realistic textures, [and] detailed facial features" seemed pretty close to the mark. That said, a still picture could not confirm she has the "reactive eyes and fluid motion" the publisher promised.

Lara's arsenal of modern equipment was also on display in the picture. She retains the signature boots, shorts, tank top, and dual pistols but sports a more detailed belt and backpack, which featured two types of grenades. Also on her belt are a pair of binoculars and a white cylindrical object, which must be either the magnetic grappling device, the personal lighting device, or a part of the communications equipment Eidos said she will use in the game.

Besides dishing on Lara Croft and the thought process behind the game's development, Eidos also revealed that Tomb Raider: Legend will be released for the current-generation Xbox. Previous references to the game had said it would be released for the PlayStation 2 and PC as well as the PSP and next-generation Xbox. Strangely, the latter two formats were not mentioned anywhere in the statement.

Eidos promised that more details about Tomb Raider: Legend will be unveiled on April 12 with the launch of a new Tomb Raider Web site. GameSpot will have further details as they become available.

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