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Despite Being 20 Years Old, Gex Still Had A Big Influence On Tomb Raider Legend

Crystal Dynamics just turned 30 years old. Noclip Documentary, a crowdfunded documentary producer for gaming fans, was just one channel to notice the milestone and celebrate its 30th anniversary with a series of interviews with key developers on old projects. As a result, developers revealed new interesting tidbits of information that fans never knew, including how "Gex" ties into the seemingly unrelated "Tomb Raider" series. 


"Gex" was one of the first games created by Crystal Dynamics that would set the tone for other series going forward, which apparently extended to in-game engine quirks like size. In the Noclip documentary, one designer revealed that "Tomb Raider" protagonist Lara Croft wasn't measured in real-world units like inches or meters in "Tomb Raider: Legend." Instead, she was measured in what the team dubbed "Gexels" — a.k.a. how big Gex the gecko was from their game of the same title. Lara was apparently 600 Gexels high, so about 600 geckos tall. 

Here's what else the developers had to say about Gexels and their role in "Tomb Raider: Legend."

Everything is Gex

Lara Croft wasn't the only thing measured in Gexels, either. Everything in "Tomb Raider: Legend" was measured in Gexels because the engine was 20 years old, meaning it was too old to have real-world metrics incorporated into its makeup. It would've been more of an inconvenience to update it, which is why the team stuck with Gexels.


"The measurement of anything in the world when you were building something in the engine was based on the size of Gex," the designer from the documentary explained. "It was so fundamentally woven through all the math in the engine and the libraries that changing gexels to feet and inches or meters was a massive, massive undertaking that nobody wanted to take on."

So "Tomb Raider" fans can thank Gex for some of the series' success. 

Since it was founded in 1992, Crystal Dynamics has become a recognizable developer in the games industry thanks to massive franchises like "Gex," "Tomb Raider," and "Legacy of Kain." It was recently with Square Enix until the latter sold it to Embracer Group to invest in NFTs, which, evidently, didn't end up happening.