And you’d know she’s close to dying, as it were in previous ‘Raider games, by the percentage left of her life bar, or its color after getting into a hair-disheveling fight with a panther. In Underworld (see picture below), Crystal Dynamics’ latest pillar Lara-starrer, for instance, this specifically was the case.
The health indicator, as with any game, would tell the player how close Lara is to dying. If Lara’s silhouette (and her vertical life bar) had a shade of orange, three more scratches from a panther would mean Game Over screen — unless you had a medipack to heal her with.
But apart from the occasional pop-ups of these HUDs, the player pretty much had no idea of Lara’s condition after getting slapped in the gut by a kraken’s tentacle, if there’s even any tangible, physical condition to speak of at all.
There was none.
Gun shot in the shoulder? Lara’s free to do a handstand the next second. Forty-feet fall from a cave ceiling? Lara barrell-rolls and moves on. Scratched on the face by a frickin’ tiger? Nope — my skin is Beverly Hills-made, dear; it’s practically cement.
“Teflon beauty,” they call it — the invulnerable “feel” to the character of Lara the studio is “trying to get away from” in the reboot. To this end, Crystal Dynamics wants Lara to feelthat she’s hurt when she’s supposed to be hurting, and more importantly to actually look like she is.
“It’s putting the feeling of a real human character into those situations,” global brand director Karl Stewart says. “When Lara gets injured, you will see her being injured for a period of time, and that will affect her ability to play […] in particular ways.”
One direct manifestation of Lara “feeling” is in her animations. In Game Informer’s debut preview of the game, it’s detailed that Lara “instinctically reaches to hold her side, [as she] squeezes through a particularly narrow opening [and] grazes her wound.”
Lara had fallen onto a metal spike that skewered her side in an effort to free herself from her cocoon-like restraints (pictured above). It appears that pulling the damned thing out (top left image, first picture) isn’t the end of it, however, as the wound will affect how Lara animates in certain situations throughout the game.
Probably the worst part of it though is the stain it’s leaving on Lara’s clean, grey top (top right image, first picture). No, she won’t just change wardrobes because of it; she’ll have to bear looking bloody filthy throughout the island adventure (with emphasis on “bloody”).
“The most important thing to me is that we not have wardrobe changes, but rather wardrobe evolution,” Brian Horton, art director, tells GI. “The cumulative damage and wear and tear on the clothing is where evolution comes through in the outfit.
“Lara is just surviving from beginning to end. Through her situation her outfit is going to show the accumulation of that survival story. That is going to mean discoloration and rips and tears (bottom left image, first picture). That will sort of progress throughout the entire adventure.”
There will also be “gears and items” that will accumulate on Lara’s model throughout the game. Presumably, examples of such items are the bandages Lara puts around her wounds (bottom right image, first picture).
While these visual cues have not been confirmed as direct indicators of Lara’s remaining percentage of health (as in, whether it’s close to Game Over or not), it certainly goes a long way to make Lara become more believable and vulnerable as a character, driving away from what’s been referred to as her Teflon image.
Although not much has been detailed about the implications of Lara’s physical life bar on her abilities in the game, Crystal Dynamics says they’re “working on making injuries a part of the gameplay rather than just tonal.” To that end, the studio has confirmed that a new healing system will come into play to aid Lara in her survival story, a subject we’ll delve deeper into for Part II of our Reinventing the Life Bar feature.
Because really, the moment Lara’s in the red zone and you somehow manage to keep her alive, that’s when you know she’s become an actual survivor.
We say bring it.
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