20 Years of Tomb Raider: 2016 in Review

By on January 8, 2017 | No comments yet

My new year resolution for 2016 was a goal to become more involved with the Tomb Raider community and thankfully I was afforded that opportunity. I’ve met so many incredible people, made such great friends and joined a passionate and embracing Tomb Raider family.

After my initial trip to Crystal Dynamics in Redwood City, California — I was so eager to do Tomb Raider events the following year!

In July of 2016, I was able to fly out to San Diego during Comic-Con season. My family was already vacationing there, and it made sense for me to join my family later that week, and join in on the Tomb Raider festivities, such as the Cosplay gathering where members of the community showed off their awesome costumes and hung out for the weekend!

It was super nerve-wracking, meeting so many members of the community and development team. I remember being so reluctant and afraid to show up at the “Square Enix Experience” where demos and gatherings were being held downtown by the convention center. But it was such an incredible and memorable first experience, meeting such talented and likeminded people, all gathered for our love for Croft!

At the “Square Enix Experience” I was able to get hands on with the PS4 version of Rise of the Tomb Raider, climb a  super cool rock climbing wall, and meet the ever so fabulous Camilla Luddington! I was super nervous meeting her, I never in a million years expected to ever meet this girl. But there she was, glamorous and so down to earth. I remember being so starstruck and stunned to actually see her walk on to the lot, greeting all the fans.

 

SDCC 2016 was super special, and it was an honor to finally meet everyone there!

 

More recently in November of 2016, Crystal Dynamics and a company in northern Cali called Adventure Out partnered up to host a survival training course with staff members of IGN to be grouped up with members of the community to learn basic survival skills and compete Tomb Raider style!

As a Colorado native, it was quite the trip to haul ass halfway across the country on such short notice for the next TR event! That being said, I road tripped 13 hours from Colorado to Arizona to meet up with a buddy, Isaac Cabrera aka Tom Braider — Where we drove through Los Angeles to pick up a few more members of our party, and drove up the coast to Santa Cruz to join the rest of the group for the training class! We even met up with Earl Baylon for a lunch date in LA.

During the course we learned how to build shelter, purify water, make fire by friction, and even build bundle bows like Lara’s iconic makeshift bow in TR 2013! It was a blast, and I’m super excited for what’s to come in 2017! Be sure to check out the gallery below!

I want to give a special thanks to my road trip buddies — for dealing with my shenanigans, and being the best road trip pals. It was so much fun.

Rise of the Tomb Raider 20 Year Celebration Collectors Bundle Announced

By on September 26, 2016 | No comments yet

 

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Recently a special collectors bundle for Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration was announced, it will release on October 11th 2016 alongside the standard and limited edition versions. So far this bundle is only available from the Square Enix European Store, priced at £89.99 which is great value for everything that you get in the box:

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration physical game

Replica of Lara’s diary

Replica of Lara’s necklace

Limited edition 20 Year Celebration art book

 12″ Lara Croft statue

Beautiful collectors box

 

As someone who owned this version of the game for XBox One, I would highly guarantee this as a purchase, it will include all DLC previously announced as well as the new Croft Manor/Blood Ties/Lara’s Nightmare and Co-Op Endurance mode, priced at £89.99 this version of the game is a steal! I can’t speak for the artbook, however the replicas are well made and the Lara Croft statue is huge and beautiful.

At the moment this edition is only available from Square Enix Europe, as soon as any news for other regions becomes available, we will let you know.

 

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider Comes to Playstation 4

By on July 19, 2016 | No comments yet

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Crystal Dynamics has officially announced the PS4 release for Rise of the Tomb Raider! After a year of a timed exclusivity arrangement that secured the Tomb Raider sequel’s debut on the Xbox and PC platforms, fellow raiders and interested PS4 gamers can finally get their hands on the game and experience Croft’s newest globe-trotting endeavor beginning on October 11th!

For more info on the “20 Year Tomb Raider Celebration” release on PS4, head on over to the official Tomb Raider blog for the entire collection breakdown!

Be sure to check out a special “spoiler free” video I put together to help welcome Lara back home to Playstation.

Cheers.

Reflecting: Demise of The Tomb Raider

By on May 24, 2015 | 478 comments

Demise-of-The-TR-Featured-ImageWith tensions soaring and bad press surrounding Rise of The Tomb Raider, I’ve decided to write this article from a different perspective rather than my usual angry rant. Rise is the highly anticipated sequel to 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot. Fans were ecstatic after seeing the world premiere trailer at the E3 2014 event. Though, the hype was short lived after only a few months when Crystal Dynamics had announced that the next installment would see it’s arrival launch exclusively on the Xbox platform come holiday 2015.

The community pushed back with petitions, blackouts, numerous rants on social media and so forth. Yet, after all the hard heavy emotions, I think I’m finally starting to understand why Crystal chose to debut the game on Microsoft’s gaming platform.

The Tomb Raider reboot took four years of hard intensive development to see it’s vision through to the mainstream market. From the early reveal days of the reboot, former global brand director Karl Stewart often spoke on behalf of the developers working on the game, citing that this new iteration of Tomb Raider would be “the game of our careers.” With that achievement came sacrifice and resources that the studio had exhausted through out the last game’s campaign.

“But that success wasn’t without its cost. Several members of the team burned out during the last game’s stretch of development, working 18-hour long days for nearly a year. The needs of a top-tier video game forced its developer to sacrifice personal hobbies, friendships, and time with family. Through that pain and sacrifice, however, Crystal Dynamics delivered the best Tomb Raider to date. Now, they just have to do it again.”

—Rise of The Tomb Raider’s GI cover story,

In the beginning, a lot of us questioned as to how this is helping the fans or the studio by partnering with a tech “monster” like Microsoft. Their affiliation with the last game just made their invitation that more welcoming. But with first party marketing, and hardware specialized hands to help work on the game to relieve some of the pressure, it definitely makes sense now why Crystal Dynamics thought this was the best decision for the game.

“This doesn’t mean that we’re walking away from our fans who only play on PlayStation or on PC.”

Rise of the TR Announcement

In the initial press release, it was emphasized that they had made Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris along with The Definitive Edition accessible on both Playstation and Xbox platforms. With the mentioning of Rise’s exclusivity duration, they understand how important it is to develop a game for multiple platforms. Which kind of contradicts their exclusivity contract, but it’s evident that it’s important the studio reaps the benefits of that partnership. Once the game is made with more qualified hands on deck, the struggle to porting the title over to the other platforms shouldn’t be as severe as if it were being developed for multiple hardware specs in just one stretch.

I’m predicting that Rise will soon see a PC and PS4 release shortly after the title launches first on Xbox. It’d be a bit ridiculous for the team to work so hard to only have their game being played on just one platform. Out of respect and ethical diplomacy, of course we’re not going to hear anything about the game releasing on other platforms quite yet. Coding the game tailored specifically for Xbox One could be either incredible or an epic fail. It’s obvious Crystal set the bar pretty low for collaborating with the weaker partner, but one can hope that the team can cook up an extraordinary game out of this ordeal.

I sincerely hope they surprise us all, and that in the end, partnering with Microsoft was indeed the right decision.

With E3 being just a few weeks away. It’s undoubtable that Rise of The TR is going to have a huge turnout this year.

Cheers.

The Crystal Compass Podcast Episode: 29

By on May 2, 2015 | 8 comments

Podcast Ep 29 Featured Image

In the newest episode of the Crystal Compass Podcast, community manager Meagan Marie and Crystal brand coordinator Robin Huey touch base on Tomb Raider 2013’s recent milestone and the newest mobile release from Square Enix, Lara Croft: Relic Run! Rise of the Tomb Raider’s game director, Brian Horton weighs in on the systems of survival, and does a take 5 Q&A! Check it out!

RELATED: Reflecting: Demise of The Tomb Raider

Subscribe to the Crystal Compass podcast on iTunes!

Tomb Raider Yamatai Concept Art – New Milestone

By on April 6, 2015 | 1 comment

LCSacPosterFeaturedImageTomb Raider has reached yet another milestone, having sold 8.5 million copies since it’s initial release in March of 2013. The game has been sold across 6 gaming platforms, consisting of Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, and Mac! This is an incredible record the game holds, currently being the highest sold title in the entire Tomb Raider franchise.

RELATED: “Rise of The Tomb Raider” Launch Campaign

Congratulations to the entire team who worked on the newest Tomb Raider iteration. It’s a perfect example of a reboot done right.

In celebration of this incredible milestone, Crystal has released some new concept art from the last game’s development.

Enjoy the gallery below!

 

 

The Crystal Compass Podcast Episode: 28

By on March 20, 2015 | 8 comments

Crystal Compass LogoHey everyone! The Crystal Habit podcast is back and newly rebranded as “The Crystal Compass!”

In this new feature, senior community manager Meagan Marie sits down with the talent behind Rise of The Tomb Raider to dive into the mythology surrounding the next chapter in the Tomb Raider saga.

Subscribe to the Crystal Compass podcast on iTunes!

“Rise of The Tomb Raider” Launch Campaign

By on February 11, 2015 | 1,331 comments

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Crystal Dynamics has officially started the campaign for “Rise of the TR” this month with Gameinformer, unveiling the March issue with a cover story for the next installment in the Tomb Raider franchise.

Late last year, Square Enix had announced “Rise of The TR” as an Xbox exclusive, being published by Microsoft come Holiday 2015. Still up for speculation that Rise could eventually come to other platforms sometime after it’s initial release on Xbox.

RELATED: Rise of The Tomb Raider – Reveal Coverage

Throughout the month of February, Crystal is exclusively releasing assets and details for Rise of The Tomb Raider via Gameinformer’s ROTTR Hub, where you can check there periodically for TR updates.

One of the points I made in my open letter to Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix regarding the exclusivity deal was my concern about releasing a next-gen Tomb Raider title on last-gen’s
hardware.

Developing a next-gen game for last-gen’s hardware is not “ambitious” in any way, period.
Especially if the game is set to drop on the cusp of 2016. — Open Letter

Crystal Dynamics Head of Studios, Darrell Gallagher addressed this concern announcing Nixxes Software as the studio who’s developing Rise of The TR for the Xbox 360 version.

We’re wholly focused on Rise being an Xbox One title without limitation, without even thinking of the Xbox 360 version,” Gallagher revealed to Game Informer in their latest March issue.

Nixxes put together a tech demo of Rise of the Raider content running on Xbox 360, and we were totally blown away by what they achieved.

Nixxes has been a long time partner of the studio since the Legacy of Kain games. Their first ever project was Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, and since having worked on every Tomb Raider installment alongside Crystal Dynamics, including their work on the Tomb Raider Trilogy.

The latest ROTTR Gameinformer coverage has me feeling a bit bitter-sweet. I’m excited because Lara’s next journey has been revealed, however my rose colored glasses aren’t that tinted, leaving me frustrated and conflicted.

To read Game informer’s full cover story in the latest March issue filled with exclusive screenshots of the next installment of Tomb Raider, click here to subscribe!

Where do you stand with the Xbox exclusivity deal? How do you feel about developers utilizing outdated hardware as an obligation to deliver diluted gaming experiences on last-gen tech?

Is the 360 and PS3 holding back next-gen titles from their fullest potential?
Let me know what you think about the new Rise coverage in the comments below!

Open Letter to Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix in Regard to Rise of The Tomb Raider:

By on August 12, 2014 | 511 comments

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After hearing the appalling news that Rise of The Tomb Raider will be shipping exclusively to the Xbox One, we as fans are extremely outraged.

We all saw how chummy Crystal was with Microsoft during the reboot’s initial campaign. But to this extent, to go as far as making “ROTTR” an Xbox exclusive is over the top, ridiculous and will inevitably devastate the franchise. Timed exclusive or not, how can Square and Crystal be so blatantly disrespectful to the fans and slap us in the face like this? As if people weren’t already wary of Square Enix after the first game’s release. We all saw what people were saying about Square Enix in the comments on IGN on every Tomb Raider article. This just gave people more room to criticize the publisher, and rightfully so this time.

When Definitive Edition dropped, we all know that the release was demo’d and hyped on the Playstation 4, because the Xbox One is clearly inferior to the PS4. Definitive Edition was dumbed down in optimization just to perform adequately on the Xbox One.

This is not what we want. This is such a bold and an uncalled-for move for Square Enix to do this to the ones who support the game the most.

We’re talking about a company who plasters Xbox One ads on Chef Boyardee cans, McDonalds products, numerous TV and online commercial spots, and who bought out IGN during E3.

I’m sure Sony shrugged off Crystal Dynamics during the reboot’s campaign last year, but that doesn’t mean go running to the other competitor. Now that Crystal Dynamics has the money from Microsoft, the quality of the franchise is now irrelevant. The original team worked so hard for years to build and establish a solid foundation for the reboot, and to just have it ripped down for the sequel makes zero sense.

Your friends at Microsoft have seen huge potential in Tomb Raider and have always believed in Crystal’s vision for the franchise because their exclusive lineup is pitiful and if they can pay you off, they will.

Attempting to sugar coat the situation by saying Crystal isn’t walking away from the fans on other platforms and telling them to play Temple of Osiris or Definitive edition instead is so condescending. That’s like Don Mattrick saying stick with the Xbox 360 if you don’t have access to the online features of the Xbox One.

It’s been said that “Rise of the TR” will also be coming to the Xbox 360, alongside it’s release to the Xbox One. I don’t know who’s running the show, but you guys have managed to completely ruin the sequel. Crystal did a perfect job with the reboot the first time around, so what happened? I don’t think any of us in the community ever excepted the next game to be as big of a train wreck that you guys have made it out to be. Developing a next-gen game for last-gen’s hardware is not “ambitious” in way, period. Especially if the game is set to drop on the cusp of 2016.

Crystal has been trying to establish an exclusive deal with Microsoft since Tomb Raider: Underworld. And now that you guys have it, you guys are excited to flaunt it as if it’s a good thing when that’s really not something to be proud of. You guys have been persistent in doing this to us since 2008, and it’s become ridiculous at this point.

If Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have binding contractual obligations to Microsoft for Rise of The Tomb Raider from here on out, I will boycott Rise of The Tomb Raider, and will urge my fellow friends in community to do the same.

As long time fans of a 20 year old franchise, we will not stand for this.

For the sake of the franchise, get it together.

Dre Anthony.

Multi-platform Petition | Tomb Raider’s Announcement | Xbox 360 Explanation | Reflecting

The Cover of Tomb Raider – Interview with Erin Johnson

By on October 3, 2013 | 541 comments

(Click to enlarge image)

(Click to enlarge image)

Back in November of 2012, the Crystal Habit podcast gave us some behind the scenes insight on the making of the Tomb Raider cover.

Mentioned in the podcast by Tomb Raider’s senior art director Brian Horton, the cover is a mockup rendition pieced together by his team at Crystal Dynamics as well as their partners at Ignition & Visual Works.

So who is the the model on Tomb Raider’s cover art? Brian Horton and Ignition chose the lucky & talented model Erin Johnson to represent lady Lara Croft on the cover of Tomb Raider!

 

Transcribed from the Crystal Habit podcast, Brian Horton explains the cover’s creative process.

It started with an Ignition idea that we modified and did a sketch over. Ignition had done some proof-of-concept kind of stuff. Then we did Bren’s sketch, and then we did the shoot. Once we had the shoot and the pose locked from a photograph, we sent that over to Visual Works. They matched that pose and the lighting. In fact, Ignition sent us detailed lighting information. The temperature and position of all the lights and stuff. So Visual Works could simulate that in their environment. They did an awesome render. Then I worked with Ignition to composite some of that to get the final look that you see on the cover. It was pretty cool.

I’m happy to report is that once we got the Visual Works render back, which was originally only supposed to be the head and the hair, they gave us a full body render. I was able to get some ingredients from the Visual Works model and I’ve got them composited in.

TombRaiding spoke with Erin Johnson about what it was like to shoot with Ignition & Crystal Dynamics, and what it takes to be on the cover of Tomb Raider!

How did you learn about the casting notice that Crystal Dynamics had put out?

In the beginning Crystal Dynamics did not hire me. I was hired by a printing company called Ignition Print in Santa Monica.  They are responsible for the cover art of movie posters, video games, etc. I had shot with them before to be a figure model for a different video game and they called me back for Tomb Raider because I resembled the character of Lara.  When it first started out, Ignition Print was trying to get hired by Crystal Dynamics to do the cover of Tomb Raider, and they ended up getting the job with the photo that actually turned out to be the shot they used for the cover!

What did the auditioning process look like?

The casting was through Ignition Print and initially it was for “a chick who can look badass holding a gun.” This to me was perfect because I always dreamt of being portrayed somehow as a badass babe!! So I went to the casting in black pants, thigh high boots, a black midriff top and my hair slicked back in kind of a faux hawk. This to me represented a “badass babe,” little did I know that that shot would help me get the quintessential badass babe of all time.

What was it like shooting the cover of Tomb Raider?

Shooting for Tomb Raider was actually a lot of hard work. They didn’t really keep me in the know or let me know exactly what we were shooting since I shot with Ignition Print about 8 times, each session lasting about 8 hours long. The shoots were incredibly endurance driven. I basically had to do yoga poses for hours at a time and the next day I wasn’t surprised if I was unable to walk because I was so sore. On top of holding poses and pulling on a real bow and arrow (which let me tell you is anything but easy), I was also constantly being sprayed with water and having a fan blowing on me full speed so I ended up also getting sick a couple of times.

I was incredibly accustomed to Lara’s outfit, it was like my second skin!! After shooting in it so much and being drenched in all that water and mud all the time the outfit would get looser and looser everytime I shot in it but they never were able to wash it because they wanted it to still look authentic. We did shoot in front of a green screen and shot one pose multiple times to make sure we got a shot from every angle.

I honestly had no idea how big this was going to be because I could never visualize exactly what my images were going to be used for and how they were going to be used.  I guess it didn’t sink in that I was representing Lara Croft, the most iconic video game character, in my eyes. I’ve always been a huge fan of Angelina Jolie and how big of an uber babe she was as Lara, even shooting for the same thing as her is an incredible honor.  But there is nothing more shocking than to see yourself internationally representing one of the biggest games of the year.

What was the best part about the photoshoot?

The best part about the shoot besides getting to play Lara was probably the things the staff had to make me do to get angry. I’m an incredibly happy/goofy person so it’s hard for me to make angry or pissed off faces because it just is out of character for me.  After a long day of shooting and I was exhausted it came a little easier and I’m guessing that’s why they had me shoot so intensley so that I could portray the expressions of being tired, weary, and angry. After a while we started playing metal so it would get me upset, instead I love metal and it makes me happy so I just pretended to be screaming the vocals and that seemed to help with my “angry face.” Fortunately for the viewers they decided to use none of the photos of me making an angry face and now you know why. Hahaha!!

Have you played the new Tomb Raider game that you’re on the cover of?

Ok here comes the part where everyone is going to hate on me. To be honest I haven’t played the game YET. First off because I would feel incredibly narcissistic, but secondly because the last gaming console I owned is N64. I used to play video games all day long as a kid but since I’ve gotten a little bit older and going to college and working and all that annoying adult stuff, I haven’t had a ton of time to keep up with video games. Once I learn how to understand new gaming consoles I definitely plan on playing the shit out of Tomb Raider, so can someone teach me please?!

Also, while in the process of shooting I was shown clips from the trailer of the game so I could get into character and try and portray Lara’s feelings, so I did get to see a lot of the graphics and get an idea for the plot of the game. I was incredibly impressed, because I was used to Mario Kart and now the design and the graphics of these new school video games are absolutely insane! The gaming world is a whole new world. I think Crystal Dynamics did an amazing job, especially since it took them over four years to make this game. It really shows and it’s incredibly impressive the imagination and creativity and talent they have for making a game so life-like.

Erin Johnson with Cut out & Bestbuy Employee

I appreciate all the love I’ve received from Tomb Raider fans around the world! If you have any Tomb Raider pictures and are on instagram or twitter please reach out to me!! Thank you and I love you! ♥

 

Connect with Erin Johnson:
Instagram | Twitter

 

 

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