New at IGN PS3 this morning is the first preview of Crystal Dynamic's new Tomb Raider game, entitled Tomb Raider: Underworld. After the return to form in Tomb Raider: Legend, then a solid follow-up in the truly excellent remake Tomb Raider: Anniversary, gamers have been looking forward to seeing what Lara will get up to in her next adventure. Looking to push Lara further into 'Next-gen' territory, the Underworld team have focussed on several key areas including world interaction, according to the preview.
"...the team wanted Lara to affect the world and the world to affect Lara. By saying that, the developers wanted to give players the feeling that they were explorers, and that they could manipulate items or elements of the world freely, but in a natural way to help them choose their paths or solutions to puzzles."
AI has also been a focus during TR:U's development, with enemies and wildlife reacting realistically according to their line of sight and the threat presented by Lara:
"This meant that Lara could use the confusion of battle to get the poachers and jaguars to target each other while she stayed back and picked off the survivors. It also meant that she had to be careful, because your opponents won't blindly fling themselves towards you either; both sets of enemies would use ambush and squad tactics to eliminate their targets, actively seek cover to protect themselves, and retreat if they needed."
In addition to Lara's already spectacular gymnastic abilities, the team have beefed up Lara's combat capabilities in TR: U. In addition to punches, kicks, knees and acrobatic take-downs, Lara is free to use objects in the environment as melee weapons against her foes. During gun-play, Lara may now focus on more than one target at once, allowing her to defend herself against larger mobs of enemies.
It certainly sounds as though Crystal Dynamics are on track for another fantastic entry in the venerable Tomb Raider franchise. Hopefully they will sort out the niggles with the camera that marred Anniversary, and we'll be left with a delicious helping of Lara goodness come release.
Head over to IGN to check out the rest of the preview.
Here's a teaser image to keep you going!