By John Walker on January 17th, 2011 at 10:09 pm.
An article I have always wanted to write is an investigation into what went wrong with Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness. The idea of a game produced with so much money, and on so many years of success, being such a spectacular failure fascinates me. I’ve long wanted to find out how such a thing happens. But because I’m too busy playing Minecraft and watching the worst Stephen King films I can find (The Mangler next!), I never got around to it. Fortunately, one of the anonymous hooded figures in the EDGE collective has, and I can finally read the article I wanted without having to do all that work. Hooray! But also, Ooooooh. Because it’s a pretty sad story.
It must be tragic to be a collection of extremely talented game designers, stuck in a Sisyphean development with a game far too ambitious for the timeframe, and broken to its core. (Pardon.) Learning that they had no choice but to cut their huge game in half, and thus losing internal consistency, a coherent narrative, etc, is heartbreaking. Murti Schofield, the game’s lead writer, tells EDGE.
“There were things that got left so late that their final omission left the game badly crippled, and I mourn them. One example was the range of hero abilities planned for Kurtis. He ended up as such a thin, emasculated version of the character we planned in the early stages of development that I could have wept. I may actually have done so.”
The article discusses the PS2 side of things, because of course the Tomb Raiders were flagship titles on the Sony consoles, and Angel Of Darkness was due to be one of the PS2’s big launch titles. But of course all the content equally applies to the PC, other than issues with the very early PS2 devkit. (In fact, it came out a week earlier on PC in the end.)
It’s a great read, and a sad tale.
Now I just have to get someone else to write what happened with Kingpin and I’m done.