Raiders is a cancelled project in the Tomb Raider series, that would have been developed for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC as a coop multiplayer spin-off, before Crystal Dynamics decided to instead working on Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Raiders’ concept was heavily different from The Guardian of Light, as it would have been much more similar to the original Tomb Raider games, with third person exploration, platforming and shooting combat.
The story focused on the clones of Lara Croft, known as the Doppelgangers. It’s currently unclear if players would use these Doppelgangers as their playable characters, or if they were the main enemies. In the end the game was canned in pre-production, when they just had some concept made with placeholder graphic and some gameplay ideas to pitch to the studio managers.
While the game was never announced by Eidos nor Crystal Dynamics, fans of the series found documents of the project online, preserving its existence from being forgotten.
A reboot of Tomb Raider was developed by Crystal Dynamics and released in 2013 to welcoming applaud and incredible reviews. However, it seems that the development process took a rather sharp turn. This new Tomb Raider project was started in early 2009 and was originally meant to be a much more different game than the final one. Dubbed Tomb Raider: Ascension(not to be confused with the 2007 fan-made movie), its conception was a world away from what gamers got in the end. Taking inspiration from such titles as Resident Evil, ICO and Shadows of the Colossus, Lara’s reboot début was to be filled with giant supernatural enemies, a child companion that followed Lara, horse combat and explorations in a lavish open-world environment.
Concept art was already released immediately after the initial game announcement which holds lots of things not included in Tomb Raider’s final draft, and the concept lead many people to believe Tomb Raider was going to become something of a horror-genre game. Before the final Tomb Raider 2013 was released, EIDOS published a promotional Digital Book “Tomb Raider – The Final Hours” containing images and a video with the lost Ascension prototype:
“The Tomb Raider name never appeared on Guardian of Light and there was a reason – Crystal was saving that for the next project, what was internally known as Tomb Raider 9, or Tomb Raider: Ascension. Obvious biblical references aside, the team led by creative director Tim Longo was asked to come up with a radically different approach to a Lara Croft adventure. And that’s exactly what they did.
In early design meetings the team started thinking about other games that could inspire a new approach. The emotionally rich role-playing game Ico, the survival horror of Resident Evil, and the towering mythical creatures of Shadows of the Colossus all served as early inspiration. In Longo’s first pass at the design Lara Croft teamed up with a 6-year-old girl named Izumi […] as they adventured through a mysterious island inhabited by ghosts and monsters. Izumi would crawl into small places to help the player, thus creating asymmetric gameplay.
Eventually the player would dicover Izumi’s magical ability to manipulate water and interact with the island. After a few months of work the concept was deemed too ethereal and difficult to understand for Tomb Raider. Izumi was excised and at first replaced by a monkey that would accompany Croft on her adventures. When that didn’t work out the kids and animals were replaced by a more menacing presence on the island: colossal monsters.
In this second full pass at the concept design Lara would ride on horseback and battle against these monsters as they hurled trees at her in sequences reminiscent of a God of War game. Further refinement of the colossal monster concept shifted the art direction into the real of horror, with large zombie-like creatures that would roam a fog-soaked island.
What was intended as a confidential focus test from the Nielsen Group soon became public when one of the participants leaked images and details onto the internet during the summer of 2009. A “Rumored Leaked Photos of Tomb Raider Reboot” thread of the Tomb Raider forums quickly amassed some 3,687 posts from fans who expressed shock over a game that was more Resident Evil or Silent Hill than Tomb Raider. Others worried that setting a game entirely on an island abandoned the Indiana Jones-like globetrotting that was a hallmark of the series. […] Ultimately the horror direction was a shocking twist and focus tests confirmed that the team was “moving in the direction of making the greatest art house game that no one would ever play” […]
In the final game plot there are still some nods to the Ascension name, as we can read in Wikipedia:
Escaping the ancient monastery where she is taken by the Oni, Lara hears from Sam that Mathias is going to put her through the “Ascension“, a “fire ritual” to find the next Sun Queen that will burn her to death if it is unsuccessful. […] Lara realizes that the Ascension is not a ceremony to crown a new queen, but rather a ritual that transfers the original Sun Queen’s soul into a new body; the Sun Queen had learned to become effectively immortal by transferring her soul into a young girl’s body each time she grew old.
Below is listed the most significant changes to Tomb Raider in list form:
Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun is a cancelled a PS3 / Xbox 360 / PS4 and PC single-player action adventure game developed by Climax Studio, that was intended to mark the return of the Legacy of Kain series. The title was first leaked in 2013 by NeoGAF user, Mama Robotnik, in an extensive research thread about the many canceled games of the series throughout the years. According to his research, the production of Dead Sun began sometime between 2009 and 2010 with some supervision from Crystal Dynamics and was subject to strict NDA terms that prevented the developers from discussing any details of their work in the project.
Development and Cancellation
It seems that Square Enix laid down several requirements, which the title had to adhere to, such as being single-player with a multi-player component. The new main characters and a story set apart from the original series would have been an idea by game director Sam Barlow and Climax, because of the difficulty to follow LoK’s intricate storyline. Climax Studio worked on the production of the single-player game, while the multi-player was being developed independently by Psyonix Games.
The development went through several stages, initially intended as a small project to be released on Xbox 360 and PS3, even if a former developer wrote on NeoGaf:
That’s the only info that I think is wrong. It was never a downloadable game, not as long as I worked on it. Always intended as AAA. Same with the PS4 launch thing – it was intended for cross gen, all systems.
By the time it was cancelled for “old gen consoles” it was being considered as a potential launch title for PS4. This is namely one of the reasons for its cancellation in the first place, as was stated by the source that contacted Mama Robotnik to reveal further details of the project:
– This game was pushing the 360 and PS3 to the limit. A combination of sheer level scale, the twin realm mechanic and the ageing Unreal 3 engine meant it was a struggle to get this running to an acceptable level. A commitment to next gen would have possibly seen the game avoid the chop as we would have been freed from some hefty technical restraints that were holding the game back in a number of areas, including the visuals. Conversely, I can see why switching to next gen would have made the numbers even less attractive to SE top brass, given the far smaller install base.
– Having just finished Shadow of Mordor, which I found hugely enjoyable, I have to say it was eerily similar to the open world (hub as we termed them) areas of Dead Sun. From the art style, to the switching worlds, the environment traversal, character ability progression, combat and numerous other aspects, SOM was incredibly close to half the game we were making.
– The Dungeons were the other half. Given how much work obviously went into SOM, one of the most polished games I’ve played, I think Dead Sun was too ambitious, which probably also contributed to it getting the axe. It would have been a monster of a game – the wetlands hub area you’ve already seen was just one of 3 or 4 entirely different open hub areas, never mind the various dungeons that were planned. They all had distinctively different looks, puzzles and boss fights. The team wasn’t big enough to pull that lot off in a reasonable time frame, to the quality level required of a AAA release.
– Which is all a great shame, as the design of the game was excellent and meticulously thought through. Whilst not a straight sequel to previous LOK games, and not featuring previous favourite characters, it had more than enough depth and references to previous games to both satisfy (most) fans and really bring the LOK series back to life in a modern format. It was certainly a lot more than a re-skinned Assassin’s Creed or Batman, even if it did share some aspects with those games. But there we go, the vagaries of the games industry. Those design docs will still be around somewhere at Climax (or possibly elsewhere) – all it would take is someone with a spare $100 million or so and that’d see it up and running.”
In 2012, Square Enix decided to stop production since the title was no longer forecast to meet sales expectations, with some doubts about the game’s quality and its overambitious features. Due to the amount of work that went into this project, there was a lot of frustration among members of the team when it was canceled. Allegedly, certain members of the team weren’t informed of the decision and kept working on it after the cancellation.
The story was set in the distant future of Nosgoth; not being a direct sequel of the previous games, but taking place in a similar universe as the Soul Reaver games, to became a reboot of the series. The game would have introduced a new clan of vampires called ‘the Saradin’, who were much closer in appearance to the ancient vampires than their ancestors from Soul Reaver. The Saradin also had very similar powers to that of Raziel, being able to move freely between the material and spectral realms.
Dead Sun’s narrtive revolved around two main characters, Gein and Asher, who were Saradin vampire and human respectively. It would have began when Gein attacks Asher’s village, slaughering many, including Asher and his pregnant wife.
One of the main themes explored in the story would have been fertility. The human race in Dead Sun was inexplicably suffering from infertility and the fact that Asher and his wife were able to conceive a child is recognised being of great significance, as later revealed by Gein, the very reason of their deaths.
Unexpectedly, after Gein feeds off Asher’s soul, Asher becomes trapped in Gein’s body. The game would have featured both characters in the body of one; a unique creature with the body of a vampire and the soul of a human. Their quest to discover the reasons behind Asher’s assassination and who was behind it would eventually have led to a it more close tying in with the original Legacy of Kain lore. Another significant topic was religion and how this influenced human rituals and their interaction with vampires.
Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko is a 3D platform game that was developed by Crystal Dynamics and Gratuitous Games for the original Playstation and Nintendo 64. Steve noticed a lot of beta differences from the various Gex 3 demos that were released before the final game.
First up, a video featuring the level “Clueless In Seattle” that is in volume 4 in a series of Eidos demo discs (it seems that this demo also appears in a greatest hits version of Tomb Raider II).
There are noticeable differences here compared to the level that is in the game’s retail release:
In the retail version, bears are enemies that can be found in the hedgemaze of this level. In this demo, the bears are absent there and only appear as these statues that can hurt you if you jump into them. These statues are also present in the retail version, but will not harm you if you jump into them. Also, there is an instance in the retail version where a small scene occurs in which the statue bears – for a lack of a better term – come to life as enemies. In this demo, this scene never occurs and the statue bears never come to life:
Overview: Tomb Raider Legend is the first game developed by Crystal Dynamics. Crystal Dynamics worked along side with Toby Gard (the original Tomb Raider designer). They wanted to reboot the game after the failure of Tomb Raider Angel Of Darkness. Development of this game started in 2004 just after Eidos transferred the Tomb Raider development rights to Crystal Dynamics.
There are trailers from around the E3 2005 time which show various different levels which were not present or drastically changed for the final release. Around this stage of development it is confirmed that most of the areas were just for proof of concept and used for testing for example, Lara’s Beach House. There were weapons which were cut from the final release: Smoke Grenades, Rocket Launcher, Revolver.
Early Alpha Stage – Date, May 2005 Platform: PS2
This is the build which was shown at E3 2005.
Alpha Stage – Date, August 2005 Platform: PS2
This is the build which was shown at GC 2005.
Editors: 1. Gh0stblade
Change log: Gh0stblade – Added PSP info and cleanup with dates 14/01/2013 Gh0stblade – Updated basics of post, removed all old info and updated 20/03/2013