Overview: After Tomb Raider 2, Core Design released another Tomb Raider sequel in November 1998 for PC and the PlayStation. Based on the upgraded Tomb Raider 2 Engine, Tomb Raider 3 features new vehicles such as the: Kayak and Quad bike. These new vehicles enable players to experience a new challenge from navigating down the rapids of Madubu Gorge to driving quad bikes in the Nevada Desert. In comparison to the older Tomb Raider games, the game play mechanics became more dynamic and the engine supported more triangular room polygons plus coloured lighting. Tomb Raider 3 appeared at E3 May 1998 and ECTS August 1998. The game features locations such as: India, South Pacific, Nevada, London.
An interview with Andy Sandham, former level designer for Tomb Raider 3, was posted on Tomb of Ash with some interesting info:
I believe the optional routes were taken out due to time pressure – as our first Tomb Raider game as a team, we were really up against it, learning new tech, etc., so I believe we held out on the ‘hub’ system until tomb raider 4 to prevent ourselves from having nervous breakdowns!
I remember that Heather, level designer and artist on Tomb 2 had built most of Angkor Watt – but that team were offered their own project (project Eden?) and so jumped at the chance, leaving us with a ¾ complete level that was handed over to Jamie Morton.
There is evidence that Core Design had planned a section of levels set in Peru. There is no clear evidence as to whether these levels were actually created or if the area name was originally intended for another location, later renamed for the final release. Some of the level names changed during development for example (Final level names in bold):
- Jungle Ruins -> Jungle
- Temple Of Shiva -> Temple Ruins
This screenshot was taken from an unfinished beta copy of the game, it shows clear evidence of Peru’s previous existence. During a magazine interview, Core Design explained that the first level in Tomb Raider 3 would provide insight into the game’s story. Then players would be able to choose the start of their adventure set in 4 different locations: India, London, South Pacific, Nevada. It’s possible that the first level may have originally been set in Peru where Lara Croft was supposed to retrieve the first artifact? This is purely speculation and is completely unconfirmed.
All Hallows which is a bonus level was originally intended to come directly after Thames Wharf, a beta version of the game confirms that this was changed during the last month of development. It would make more sense for Lara to slide down a building near St. Paul’s Cathedral only to end up there.
Core Design did a major makeover on the PlayStation engine, it supposedly makes use of all the power the PlayStation has. It had been confirmed in several magazine reviews that the game would support 1-3 routes of completion. Looking at several magazine scans, some levels show doors to other areas which were removed from the final version. This was possibly to help avoid the gamer from getting confused but it would have been a more adventurous experience in my opinion. Also, the Kayak from Tomb Raider III was originally a boat, but blue that resembled the one from Tomb Raider II. Earlier builds show how Lara’s movesets changed, became more complex but some new moves didn’t make into the final game. An example of this is the roll whilst crouching ability. A video feature for Tomb Raider III also shows Lara Croft utilising a combat knife which they further explained was intended to remove objects from stone, or climb trees which yet again never saw the light of day.
Tomb Raider 3 features an on-screen debug with several functions. One of which displays the POLYGON count on-screen so that the developers would know which environments are too large specifically for the PlayStation engine.
The syntax is as follows:
CURRENT_POLYS | MAX_LOADED_POLYS | POLY_LIMIT
CURRENT_POLYS = Amount of polygons currently loaded (the engine hides some).
MAX_LOADED_POLYS = The highest current amount of polys reached (increases based on the current amount)
POLY_LIMIT = Polygon limit, the game should freeze once it exceeds this limit as it cannot be handled by the engine.
In huge areas the polygon limit is at breach of 1990, 1990, 2000 which is also common in Thames Wharf causing the framerate to drop on the PlayStation version.
Alpha Stage – Date, Late May 1998 (E3 Build)
The title screen is different and I quite like it. Such a shame it never made it to the final release. It is also known that this build has unique loading screens for the South Pacific level which use an unknown render. Although this looks complete, the levels are in early development and contain some interesting parts which got cut. The only known playable levels are: Coastal Village, Thames Wharf. The deleted roll animation can be seen at 0:32. The flare lighting effects look much better compared to the final release’s cut-down version. My favorite part is when Lara is monkey swinging at 0:57, the animation is different.
Alpha Stage – Date, July 1998
Screenshots from an unknown July build shown in some early magazine scans.
Alpha Stage – Date, Late July 1998
The Jungle screenshots are looking close to final but it is STILL in early development stages. There are some level differences on the second screenshot, the wall is missing which divides the water from the land. In the third screenshot you can also see there is no save crystal so it’s obviously using the standard Tomb Raider 2 Save system.
Also, the All Hallows screenshots show early deleted parts and the first screenshots lack the red lighting effects used in the final build.
Beta Stage – Date, Late August 1998 (ECTS Build)
This build was shown at ECTS 1998. Some areas differ from the public September 1998 demo featured on various magazine demo samplers.
Beta Stage – Date, Early September 1998 – ECTS Demo
Beta Stage – Date, Mid September 1998
Here is a look at some of the left over weapons which can be unlocked within this demo. Some of them are still from Tomb Raider II like the Automatic Pistols and M16. Due to them being unfinished, Lara’s animations seem to glitch whilst using some weapons.
In this version of the game, Peru is on the map. No modifications are needed to unlock it, but the level itself is not there so the game freezes.
Late Beta Stage – Date, October 1998
About this beta
This is a beta build compiled close to final. Almost everything is done but there are minor/severe bugs which can prevent you from completing the game. The beta still has the deleted sprint and crawl + pickup animation. The sprint makes Lara seem to be more ‘butch’ I believe it’s why they changed it. Whilst picking up items when crawling, Lara will reach out to her bag pack like she’s putting it in there which doesn’t happen in the final.
Glitch 1 – River of Ganges, Quadbike
Another glitch is where the quadbike is too bouncy or can be used underwater. If you drive into a wall whilst falling into the water, Lara will be able to use it underwater without it exploding allowing the level to be completed easily.
Glitch 2 – Rx-Tech Mines, Mine Cart
The most severe bug is with the mine cart, it easily picks up speed causing it to become uncontrollable. Along with this, it bounces up and down like a ball. It is impossible to complete Rx-Tech mines because there is a speed issue which causes the lower mine cart to crash every time if used. The only way around this is to use the DOZY cheat to fly rather than using the mine carts.
Glitch 3 – Lost City of Tinnos, Fire Room
In the fire room, you can walk on the floor which should burn Lara Croft.
Glitch 4 – Rx-Tech Mines, Mine Cart
There is a bug when putting in the scitimar it will not work if you press X (action) you must go through the inventory.
In the Jungle the first secret located near the tree doesn’t exist and there is no shotgun.
In Lud’s Gate in the room near the end where there’s a switch in the water. It is not there, there’s actually a button to open the next area.
Gh0stblade – Reordering and several video/spelling fixes. 16/03/16
Gh0stblade – Fixed some problems, partial re-write in progress. 21/02/15
Gh0stblade – Added info on debug info and fixed errors 09/12/12
Gh0stblade – Fixed mistakes added stuff. 12/05/12
Gh0stblade – Added August 1998 E3 PC, July PC Screenshots. 2/04/12
Gh0stblade – Started write up, added October 98 beta info 14/12/11, Added Late August info, Added September 1998 Info.
Gh0stblade – Added E3 info, ECTS screenshots. 16/12/11
Gh0stblade – Added more general info, E3 video updated 09/01/11
What do you think about this unseen game? Give your vote!
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i wanna play with the beta/alpha stage
When are we going to get ‘more info’ on the deleted CUT10.PSX?
The demo disc version (similar to the ECTS 1998) of Tomb Raider 3 where she’s trapped in that jail cell or whatever actually has a debug code of sorts still enabled in it. I remember being able to access it when I was younger but I have long since forgotten the code. By pressing a certain combination of the L/R and face buttons, you can turn Lara invincible and let her swim around in the air like it was water.
I’ve never been able to find anyone else out there who knew about the code except for me, and I really wish I could remember what you did to trigger it. I was actually hoping this article would know!
Late reply @BlazeHedgehog, but you are not alone. It happened in the demo for TR3 the debug mode where Lara is “Flying” I have no idea what buttons I pushed on my PS1 remote, but I thought the same thing and wondered if anyone else went through it. Fortunately, there are videos on YOUTUBE about it and the how to perform it.
I was super young probably 8 or 9 when I activated the fly mode.