Everything in pop culture builds off what came before, but sometimes it’s not so obvious exactly what inspired your favorite video games. Luckily game recognize game, and Source Code is where Playboy explores the eclectic influences of video game developers.
With a charismatic adventurer looking for ancient artifacts but finding danger and the mystical instead, it’s clear why the Tomb Raider games have been compared to the Indiana Jones movies since Lara Croft made her first chasm leap in 1996.
But in talking to Crystal Dynamic’s Noah Hughes, the Creative Director on the new Rise of the Tomb Raider (which is out now on Xbox One and Xbox 360, and coming next year to PS4 and PC), he revealed that Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indy’s other big pics aren’t the only movies that inspired Lara’s latest field trip.
Here’s where the developres of Rise of the Tomb Raider turned for inspiration.
7. ‘TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY’
Having failed to kill Sarah Connor in the first film, Skynet sends a second, more advanced Terminator back to 1995 to kill John Connor. To stop it, future John sends his own Terminator back to both protect himself and to rescue Sarah from the mental hospital she’s been in since she told people doomsday was coming and that a killing machine from the future was out to get her.
How it inspired Rise of the Tomb Raider: “From Judgment Day, we took a lot of the inspiration from where Sarah Connor was at as a character,” Hughes explains. “In that movie, Sarah had seen the future, but no one believes her, so she’s an outsider in her own world, and needs to muster the conviction to stand up to the accusations of being crazy. We tried to apply that burden of destiny to Lara.”
6. 'THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW’
Directed by Roland Emmerich, who previously blew stuff up in Independence Day, this disaster movie has paleoclimatologist Dennis Quaid trying to rescue his son, Jake Gyllenhall, when the Earth’s ecosystem revolts and plunges the planet into a new ice age.
How it inspired Rise of the Tomb Raider: “A lot of that movie’s influence on our game is the extreme conditions that we thrust Lara into,” Hughes says. “Not just in how the scenes of a frozen wasteland informed the overall look of Siberia, but also what it’s like to confront those elements and keep going in the face of these environmental threats.”
5. 'RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II’
While in jail for the crimes he committed in the first movie, John Rambo is asked by his former commander to go back into Vietnam to see if there are any American P.O.W.s still being held, which of course leads to all kinds of gunfire and mayhem.
How it inspired Rise of the Tomb Raider: “In Rambo, you see him being resourceful and using the environment during combat,” Hughes notes. “And while, in the previous game, Lara really showcased her survival instincts, in this one, we wanted her to take them into combat, and have her be more confident and resourceful the same way Rambo was, especially in the early movies.”
Ever since she could walk, Hanna has been trained by her father to be an assassin with one mission: kill a senior CIA officer played by Cate Blanchett. Which is what she spends the rest of the movie trying to do.
How it inspired Rise of the Tomb Raider: “In our games, we mainly take inspiration from the early part of Hanna when you see her applying the skills she’s learned to survive,” Hughes explains. “But while Hanna was actually an influence on the first game, it’s even more of one for Rise because in the first game, Lara was so out of her element that she needed to rely on others in order to believe in herself. But in Hanna, she’s a character who’s built for this, and that’s the Lara you meet in the new game.”
3. 'ANDREI RUBLEV’
Loosely based on the life of the titular Russian painter, this Soviet film presents a realistic view of 15th-century Russia, and what it’s like to be an artist when you live under an oppressive government.
How it inspired Rise of the Tomb Raider: “This wasn’t something I was aware of,” Hughes admits, “I have to give credit to our Game Director, Brian Horton, who brought it to our attention. It has historical elements of the Tatar invasion, and one of our backstories is the invasion of Kitezh, which was invaded by the Mongols. Though also, because it’s a Russian movie, there’s also lots of tonal and cultural references, as well as an aesthetic for us to use.”
2. 'THE EDGE’ AND 'THE GREY’
In the former, three men have to survive the Alaskan wilderness, and the bear that’s hunting them, after their plane crashes in the forest. In the latter, a group of men have to survive the Alaskan wilderness, and the pack of wolves that are hunting them, after their plane crashes in the forest.
How it inspired Rise of the Tomb Raider: “As much as we take inspiration from Rambo in how it relates to Lara using the environment against her foes,” Hughes points out, “it’s almost more signature to this game that the environment is a foe. What we liked in these movies were that the bear in The Edge and the wolves in The Grey represent a constant hostility that surrounds the main characters, and we have that in our game as well.”
1. 'AVP: ALIENS VS. PREDATOR’
Based on the comic book series that also inspired the video games, this has a group of scientists, soldiers, and a wilderness guide exploring a temple hidden under the ice in Antarctica, only to find themselves caught in the middle of an episode of *Alien Fight Club. *
How it inspired Rise of the Tomb Raider: “This is probably the big outlier,” Hughes admits, “but we were inspired by the scenes where they’re going through the abandoned town and then underground into the temple. We took a bit of the dark flavor from those scenes.”
Paul Semel has been writing about games (as well as music, movies, books, and other fun stuff) for over twenty years. You can find him online on his own site, paulsemel.com, or follow him on Twitter at @paulsemel.
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