When Tomb Raider's multiplayer was announced earlier this month, fans were left bemused. How would multiplayer fit into a series like Tomb Raider? And why did it need it?
And surprisingly enough, Eidos Montreal, the studio behind the game's multiplayer mode, initially asked the same questions too.
"When we took on multiplayer, we were like, 'Does it even belong in Tomb Raider?'" Eidos Montreal producer Joe Khoury told VideoGamer.com yesterday, adding that he "wasn't surprised" by the negative reaction from fans.
But according to Khoury, the studio came round to the idea after seeing Crystal Dynamics' work on the single-player.
"The whole franchise has been re-envisioned," Khoury continued, "so for us, we were like, if it fits with what we're doing within Tomb Raider as a whole it could be interesting, but it took a step towards, 'Oh, definitely,' once we actually saw what they were doing.
"When you look at the theme of Tomb Raider there's definitely potential for multiplayer there, but with this specific Tomb Raider, the idea of survival, the idea of co-operating, the idea of sticking together to get rescued essentially, there's a couple of solid foundations for something that we can do to allow the player to have a unique experience."
But despite developing a multiplayer mode for Tomb Raider, Khoury isn't convinced that multiplayer is necessary for every franchise.
"We do not believe that multiplayer should exist in all franchises. The circumstances on this Tomb Raider title made it so that it made sense for us to do it. Now, all the other titles that you named [Dead Space 2, BioShock 2], was that a good idea? I could tell you personally no. Some of them maybe, yes on others, and I haven't played all of them.
"But for [Tomb Raider], for us to do it right, we had to understand what the game was doing as a whole. Just to really study it to see if we could offer something to the player that is easily accessible, and not necessary going to compete with the big multiplayer Call of Duties, Halos, stuff like that, but more to offer [something to] someone that is expecting to have a good time with the single-player, [and] extend their experience with friends past the single-player campaign."
And Khoury thinks that Tomb Raider's multiplayer could offer an opportunity to leave players "surprised".
"Put it this way," Khoury continues, "if we weren't confident, I can say that the team would not have stuck by it, we wouldn't be here talking this optimistically about it.
"Putting in something like that will obviously get some reactions, some excitement and some people saying maybe it doesn't belong this way, but the only way to really give it a shot is to have people play the single-player campaign - as they would have had multiplayer not existed - and then really see what we've done with multiplayer to make it different.
"Hopefully we've done enough to make it feel different because we feel that we've added enough spices in there to make it feel like it's worthwhile."
Unfortunately, though, players won't be given the chance to try out the game's multiplayer before release. Crystal Dynamics announced this morning that it had "no plans" to release a playable demo prior to Tomb Raider's March 5 release.
Source: Tomb Raider press event attended by VideoGamer.com