A staggeringly long lead time until actual launch and some by now de rigueur attempts at giving coverage orders to the press were just two of last night's high points at the preview of the next instalment in the Tomb Raider game franchise, Angel of Darkness.
It wasn't a launch because the game won't be out until 15 November, but Eidos and Tomb Raider developer Core did show off the latest human incarnation of the game's heroine, Lara Croft, now to be 'played' by Dutch model Jill de Jong (pictured). Ms de Jong may believe this role will enhance her career, but considering the women who play Croft aren't ever allowed to speak while in character, this might be somewhat naïve.
Pricing wasn't announced but a retail source said that UK PS2 pricing for major titles is pegged at £44.99 and £39.99 for the next 18 months. The source added that Angel of Darkness will almost certainly be pitched at the £44.99 price point.
The preview event was filled with typical Core/Eidos puff but the game itself, framed against a backdrop of intrigue, murder and sinister Nazi-style madmen, looks better by factors off the scale.
Core said players, through Lara, will be able to interact with the other characters in the game and will be able to choose how she handles these discussions — nice Lara, or nasty Lara. Graphics also looked fantastic in the preview/demo.
Somewhat surprisingly Core also said the game would go exclusively to Sony's Playstation 2 console platform as well as to PC, ignoring Xbox.
But inside the blether about the game's development there were references to future episodes in this darker period of Lara's history — one industry source present agreed that Core and Eidos would be barking mad not to consider going with Xbox as well as PS2 with future releases if Xbox sales do well.
Because the Croft phenomenon has become so enormous, though, Core and Eidos do seem to believe they're able to dictate how we write about it. On opening the press CD, the instructions as to how the game title is written in copy read: "When writing about the game it should initially be referred to as 'Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness'. Thereafter in the same copy, the game may be referred to as 'Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness' or 'The Angel of Darkness'. The game should not be referred to in any other form apart from those listed above." Lads, don't be silly.