5 June 2011

"A famous explorer once said that the extraordinary is in what we do, not who we are."

Those were the words introducing us to the first ever trailer for the upcoming Tomb Raider game. We were promised big things from Crystal Dynamics and the team at Visual Works and we were not disappointed. A short version trailer was first aired on GTTV (on the channel Spike) at 6am (GMT), with the longer version going on YouTube and the official TR site straight afterwards. Inspired by the Bright Falls breakdown (Alan Wake's promotional series looked at frame by frame) by Machinima; I decided to approach the trailer with a similar technique...Also if you haven't seen Bright Falls, go do so, it's pretty freaky.

The first thing that we can hear is Lara's voice. So far the voice actresses has not been named. There are a few rumors suggesting a variety of different actresses including the final Lara Croft model; Alison Carroll after her twitter message on the morning of the trailer's release. Personally I think it sounds more like Eva Green who played Vesper in James Bond: Casino Royale. She is younger then Keeley Hawes who voiced Lara for the past few years (2006-2010) and it sounds as though she can also make her voice more innocent and more like Lara in the trailer. Furthermore Lara's voice had a slight roughness to it that reminded me of Eva's.

We are introduced to the trailer with Lara saying the following:
       A famous explorer once said; that the extraordinary is in what we do, not who we are.
Lara Croft

If you tried to put the quote into Google, you probably wouldn't have found anything a part from some links to the Tomb Raider forums. However the quote which Lara was referring to was made by Edmund Hillary. He was one of the first people to reach the top of Mount Everst and also it was his party were the first to reach the South Pole overland since Amundsen in 1911 (ironically the South Pole was also where the first Endurance 1912 crashed). The quote in which Lara referred to was:

       People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things
Edmund Hillary (explorer)

The Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics logo then appears on a black background which appears to be like camera film which burns away at the end revealing the ship Endurance which Lara begins the game on. Tomb Raider Reboot Twitter page has recently identified and posted the location of which Endurance is sailing off from. They have identified it as Yokohama in Japan.

Together with the film and the narratation, it gives the impression that Lara is looking back on her adventure. This could either be from two points. The first point is that it's at the end of the game and she looks at the adventure and how it changed her.  The second point is that she's on the island and she starts believing that she might not survive. There is a phone on the desk later in the trailer which might have the ability to record her voice, it would also explain why she was calm (she might have accepted her fate), which makes the next line very interesting:

       I'd finally set out to make my mark, to find adventure but instead adventure found me.
Lara Croft

It's interesting that she called it an "adventure", mainly because the word is linked to travelling and experiencing new things which interests you, and not being stranded on a mysterious island with everyone trying to kill you. This might link back to the Core Design biography where it was through Lara's adventures that she discovered her dislike for aristocracy and decided to do more adventuring.

During the narration, we had the first shot of the new Lara Croft. She walks over to the desk, where we get a good view of what's on the table. The first thing which catches my eye is the piece of paper, I couldn't make out the words clearly until the HQ version of the trailer was released, however many of the words were still hidden due to her phone and smudges on the paper. Nevertheless I managed to read some of it:

Conventional wisdom and n-
the obvious approach to -
Khan's lost fleet. However -
egotistical and over-
of his military invasion -
versions of ?
I believe that once -
devision, as he was -
believe that he sent his -
second fleet around the -
? and travelling a -
? fleet leaving -
as a lure ? -
the ?

KHAAAAAN! The main focus of the text was "Khan's lost fleet" and with Star Trek jokes aside, here's the real history; Khubliai Khan attempted to invade Japan in 1274 and 1281, both times Khan was defeated and in legends it is said that the failure was because of the Japanese emperor's prayers to his ancestors asking them to protect Japan from invaders. In the myth a huge storm occurred which ripped the ships apart. In the 1980s, relics and the wreckage of Khan's fleet were discovered underneath soft mud. It's interesting to see where the connections are between this myth and also what happened to the Endurance. Both were involved in a storm which tore the ships apart. Lara and Roth were apparently in the search for some of the still hidden relics, perhaps whatever destroyed Khan's fleet destroyed the Endurance. If so the "truth" which was mentioned later in the trailer could be about the relics and if they were cursed.

Also on the desk is a map of Japan which Lara later picks up. What is rather interesting about this image is the numbers that Lara had written on the paper


This is the grid reference for the Dragon's Triangle (a.k.a Devil's Sea), if you put the numbers into Google Earth. This isn't the first time that the Dragon's Triangle has been mentioned either. The Dragon's Triangle is similar to the Bemuda triangle, anything that goes over this triangle (located just underneath Japan) ends up either destroyed or missing, and presumably in the game ends up washed ashore on a mysterious island.

Another thing I noticed is Lara's travel mug. There's an image on the side with "Sisters of Art-", judging from the person carrying a bow, it's not a big leap to say it's complete sentence is "Sisters of Artemis". Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, chasity, fertility, wild animals and wilderness (thank you Sports Night*). She is also depicted with a bow (like on the cup). In Greek mythology, Apollo (God of the Sun) was her twin brother and Selene was also her sister. So far it appears that the only connection between this cup and the game is Lara's interest of mythology and later in the game it is revealed that she carries a bow; which can also be seen at the end of the trailer.

There's a brown notebook on the desk also, it hasn't been mentioned before in interviews or in the magazines, but I'm thinking that it might reappear later in the game, perhaps as a place for the protagonist to mark down notes, look at a map or use as an menu.

Moving on to the next scene where Lara opens her locker. The first thing that I notice was the image located at the bottom of the screen. Going back to the story of Khan's lost fleet, the two images are drawings of what was supposed to have taken place during the Mongol invasion in 1281. Both drawings can be found in the public domain. They do seem similar to the image that is taped inside Lara's locker.

As well as the images, we get a little bit more information in who Lara is. In that scene we can see that she has two earrings on her right ear. There is also a small photograph of two people (presumably Lara and her friend, or just two friends) who has just graduated from college. Both of these shows a change between the old Core and Crystal Lara compared to the new rebooted version. This character is more relaxed, and hasn't been led to lead a life in aristocracy like the first few games.

Lara closes the door of her locker, giving us the first shot of the character's face. One small detail I like here is the change of her expression. At the start she looks innocent and slightly unsure, and then her face becomes more determined and confident as the narrator says "but instead adventure found me", I like this section mainly because it shows that even though Lara is at this point still a young woman, she's pretty detirmined and ready for the adventure. Also another theory I have is that the section involving Lara on the boat with the shot of the desk and the locker might be perhaps set after being on the island. It would also explain her facial expression because she remembers what she went through and how that had made her stronger and more of a survivor. Although if that is the case, it would need to be set a few weeks afterwards since all the cuts weren't there.

As Lara closes the locker door and stares at herself in the mirror, something becomes clear...Something's missing. We've seen it in the screenshots and the concept artwork for the character, but in the recent render and in the trailer the green magatama is not seen. I've noticed this on a few forums, that no one quite knows what it really is or why it's there since that information has not been released. When I first looked at it, it reminded me of Maya's necklace from the Phoenix Wright series, a green magatama which is a religeous symbol that was mainly used in Japan, it also symbolizes good fortune. Then on closer inspection in HD it reminded me of the Ouroboros Greek symbol (not the first link to Greek mythology we've seen from the trailer) which represents eternity and survival since the snake is eating itself to grow. It's interesting to see that the pendent doesn't appear at all in the trailer or the render but does in the screenshots. However even though she doesn't wear it before she falls into the water, she is wearing it when she wakes up in the cacoon at the start of the game, so I'm presuming that someone put it on her.

The trailer then skips several hours; It's now completely dark outside and Lara is listening to music in her room. There's also a strange magazine article including a large photograph of a cat on the wall...Not sure this is relevant, but you never know when it might come in handy! She suddenly begins to feel tremors underneath the boat and stands up to investigate, at that precise moment a large waves crashes down on the Endurance causing Lara to fall and hit her head on a nearby table. The room that is in doesn't seem as big as the one that start of the trailer. As she stands up a klaxon goes off and red lights flashes to indicate the danger. Lara goes to investigate and opens the bulkhead door to see the corridor being flooded. What I really like about this scene (and it's also pretty gruesome) is that a crew member can be seen in the waves, I think that with the character being there it added a sense of panic and danger to the atmosphere of the trailer. Without the crew member you could believe that Lara would survive this. I think that's also why I like the next few frames where you just get small shots of Lara underwater, it shows the force of the current and also her desperation, it also shows that she is not always in control of what's happening which reveals a much more vulnerable Lara.

       In our darkest moments, when our lives flashes before us...We find something...Something that keeps us going...Something that pushes us.
Lara Croft

The script is very good in the trailer, ecspecially the choice of where to put certain parts of the sentence. When Lara says "In our darkest moments, when our lives flashes before us" we are, for the first time, introduced to a very vulenerable Lara. She is trapped under the water (with nice CGI bubbles) and unable to change the situation she is in. Previously in Tomb Raider games she was always the one in charge, even if she was trying to find her mother in a celtic underworld. Lara also shouts "Help" when she reaches the surface, which adds more to the drama and pressure of the situation and combined with her hitting on the glass it's quite an emotional moment. Later on when the protagonist becomes more desperate the narration says "We find something", at this point Lara has run out of breath, and the statment could be referring to something she saw in the "flashback" that she remembered something  before she lost consciousness or discovered something later in the storyline.

Next we get the introduction to Conrad Roth, Lara's mentor who drags her out of the water while the narration says; "Something that keeps us going", this gives us a glimpse into their relationship. Lara sees Roth as a role model and he adopts the father figure. What seems a little strange here is the time between Lara being pulled out of the water and her looking up; Roth manages to get to the other side of the ship in a space of about a second. I'm thinking that perhaps Lara is disorientated from hitting her head on the desk at the start, causing concussion and leading to possibly forget moments, it would make sense later on in the game where she wakes up in the cocoon.

Update: Karl Stewart announced in the second podcast (The Crystal Habit) that the man that pulls her out of the water is not Conrad Roth, however the mystery man is going to be an important character which Crystal will announce later. Obviously some days have gone by since Lara was washed up on the  island. If the mystery man is there, he might have been the one who bandaged Lara, since she had no bandages on in the trailer but she did in the screenshots and the E3 preview. As of yet he's only someone who was there at the right time. 

After seeing the ship literally break into two with Roth on the other side, Lara runs to the edge and jumps, preforming a really nice scene in which time slows down. There's a huge possibility she will fall into the water below, but Roth catches her. Unfortunatly for Lara, due to the water, Roth loses grip and she falls into the sea below. Underwater, Lara also appears to be unconcious since there is no struggling and her body slowly drifts down.

The screen then fades in on a brown mysterious island that Lara finds herself on. The focus is on the map of Japan which Lara had put up inside the locker in her room at the start of the trailer, leading to the conclusion that the boat was smashed part. What is interesting however is that when the screen pans away at the end, the Endurance looks battered but I wouldn't say that it's destroyed enough to cause the map to be on the shore when it was in a locked alcove...well not just by the sea at least. As we know that Lara is not alone, I presume that the others on that island are scavengers who raid newly destroyed ships.

Here we get the first image of  "survival-Lara", covered in dirt and blood, armed with a picaxe and with a spike through her stomatch. What I also noticed is this was the render that was used on a number of different magazine covers was of this section where she was wrapping her injured arm into a bandage, but she still doesn't have the magatama which she has at the beginning of the game.

When all seemed lost...I found a truth...And I knew what I must become
Lara Croft

First of all the line does pose several questions, however I do like the first part when Lara says "When all seemed lost", since the developers had admitted that the TV program, Lost, was one of the inspirations for the game, I like the little mention given there. One of the questions the narrator poses in the statement is...What truth? The truth of Conrad Roth? Since she is alone in the scene it's possible that it's about him, perhaps betrayal or he died from blood loss (the leaked script revealed that Roth's leg ends up being mauled by wolves). It's also possible it could be about Khan's missing fleet, since she is amoung a graveyard of ships. Or it could be about the relics since she is not wearing the magatama, she wore earlier.

What does confuse me is the order in which the trailer is set out. From the screenshots released in December of Lara, one of them showed her about to pull out the spike that she lands on after burning away the outside of the cocoon to free herrself. That Lara has the green magatama. However in the CGI trailer she is missing it. The Game Informer article made it sound as though Lara pulled the spike out straight away, and therefore she wouldn't have been on the shore since the screenshot showed a cave. It could be just representing what was in the game, however if that is the case...Why is the magatama not there?

Update: A few fans were talking at the Tomb Raider Forums about whether it was a spike that Lara had pulled out or if she was tightening the bandage on her arm. On closer inspection of the trailer, it appears to be the bandage instead. What's interesting is that there doesn't seem to be a stab wound or blood around her waist, but that might be because it was in shadow or the strap for the bow. Nevertheless the magatama should still be there since she had it at the beginning of the game. 

With that the screen panns out showing the crashed boats and planes on the shore of the mysterious island as the words "A Survivor is born" appears flickering on the screen as the background turns to a dark greyscale filter.

The game is revealed to be due out Fall 2012, on XBOX360, PS3, and PC. Until then I'll be posting news, articles, scans, previews etc about it. Also if you haven't already make sure to check out the Official Tomb Raider Tumblr page for updates as well as Guns and Grapple.

** The Sports Night reference was a show in the late 1990s. In one of the episodes, one of the main characters were tested about their knowledge of Greek gods in the episode titled "Thespsis. Artemis was mentioned and I've always remembered what she represented because of that scene.


  1. Your article about this better than the competitors :)

  2. If you look at the picture of Lara looking at herself in the mirror you can see her arm and neck area and dirty and her arm that is visible in the shot looks very dirty and injured similar to her right arm in the 3rd last picture

  3. This is one detailed scientific exploration of the trailer, which is reminiscent of archaeology - building decent conclusions based on based only on tiny pieces of facts, but accompanied with deep knowledge =) Tho thumbs up! I'm gonna see the trailer again, BTW =)

  4. Great article, I loved a lot of the stuff you spotted. Especially about the backgrounds of Khubliai Kahn and the Dragon's Triangle.

    A little something I wanted to add about Artemis, her Wiki article reads: "She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows."

    I wonder of some of that will reflect in the game's plot :)
    Thanks again for posting. Excellent read.

  5. "A human act once set in motion flows on forever to the great account. Our deathlessness is in what we do, not in what we are." George Meredith

    Not an explorer at all, but the closest to Lara's quotation I could find.

  6. has anyone looked on a map and found that the bermuda triangle and the dragons triangle line up! n could almost mirror eachother. otherwise i think this break down is excellent. :o)

  7. What I find extremely interesting about this trailer is the timeline in which this, the newest game, is set. The mobile phone Lara is seen to be using near the beginning of the trailer looks to be an iPhone, or at the very least a high-tech touch-screen phone. Along with the Dr Dre Beats earphones she is using, this would lead me to suggest this game is set in the present day, at the very least in 2010. Because she is younger in this game, previous games like Legend and Underworld must therefore be set in the future. Either that, or the new game is not considered canonical.

  8. what is strange is the fact that when she wakes up on the island in the first trailer, she already has a bow, and her arm is half bandaged. Also, she appears to be the only person around,with the ships quite intact. Yet the map reached her somehow.

  9. if you look carefully, when you see the hands of the person who pulls Lara out of cabin, he has some sort of bangles of some kind, But when you see the hands of Conrad Roth, his hands are absolutely free of anything of that sort. So, the person who pulls Lara out is, necessarily, someone else.(unless Roth has the time to take off his bangles, jump to the other side and call out to Lara, during which Lara is unconscious, which would be silly) But then the question which arises is this - why would that person help Lara, and where did he go? Is he the one who bandages her arm? Is he the one who puts her map next to her?