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Tomb Raider: looking good there, Lara

Friday, 25 January 2013 07:48 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Tomb Raider, a franchise with an iconic look dating back to 1996, is due a makeover. We chat with art director Brian Horton about the process of refreshing such a closely-guarded property.

Tomb Raider 2013

Not the first reboot Lara Croft has undergone but probably the most drastic, with a new backstory, a much younger Lara, and modernised gameplay.

Crystal Dynamics brought in Rhianna Pratchett to write Lara’s story.

An emphasis on survival and extreme situations shows Lara Croft growing from a frightened victim to the hero she needs to be – and incidentally shows us lots of scenes of her being greviously hurt.

Brian Horton is Tomb Raider’s art director. His role is broad; he says he had a part in “pretty much everything” you see on screen – characters, environments, graphic design.

Coming to PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in March.

The Leading Lady
Over the last few generations games have become a highly visual medium. Redesigning such a prominent and lasting figure as Lara Croft is no small task; art director Brian Horton says it was the first thing he turned to when he joined Crystal Dynamics’ reboot team more than three years ago. It was a challenge to find a vision of our hero which was new, believable, younger – and still felt like Lara Croft.

“It took three or four months of iteration to get to a concept that we felt really comfortable with,” he told me. “And then that was another four, five months of iteration on that model itself.”

Every aspect of Lara’s new look has been very deliberately, consciously chosen, and it pays off. As a long time Tomb Raider fan, I was ready, at best, to tolerate the new “actor” in my favourite role, but was surprised by just how familiar it seemed. There’s just something there, some bare-bones essence of Lara Croft, which shows up particularly well in-game. Like the way baby birds will cheep for their mothers, or for a simple cross, but nothing in between. It’s not the braid, or the guns, or shorts, or the boobs – because they’re all gone (“They’ve all been changed but they’re still there,” Horton protests,) and only Lara remains.

“We call it the triangle. There’s a certain relationship of eyes, nose, mouth that even though it’s not the same, you know? We put a conscious effort into maintaining an element of that,” Horton said. “that even though more believable and in proportion still has a relationship to a classic Lara.

“I think it’s even less about her look and more about the fact that she’s a smart, inquisitive, capable woman and when you look at her silhouette – ” We both turned to look at a banner set up in the interview room. ” – the braid is there. The boots, cargo pants and tank top, you can sort of squint and feel that essence of Lara Croft. Those are the ingredients that we thought were recognisable.”

Horton said the relief of a positive reception for the new look’s initial debut was immense, and gave Crystal Dynamics a starting point to show off other aspects of the redesign – Lara’s moves, and her personality, which he hopes also reflect something new while maintaining the familiar.

Here’s Roth’s scene if you really must see.

I get the sense that Lara will only grow more familiar as the game progresses; there’s a scene with Lara’s mentor, Roth, which is eerily reminiscent of the opening moments of the original Tomb Raider. I won’t spoil it.

“Roth is a very important character to Lara, and some of his, uh, signature will be important to her,” Horton said, diplomatically refusing to comment any further.

Setting the stage
Horton became more animated talking about an aspect of Tomb Raider which while less scrutinised is arguably even more important – environmental design. The exotic locales and mysteriously lit tombs of past games are as much a part of Tomb Raider’s DNA as Lara herself, as Angel of Darkness’s mostly urban settings sadly demonstrated. The island of Yamatai, or what the player certainly believes to be Yamatai in the opening hours I’ve played, is one continuous environment, a quasi-open world, which still packs in a wide variety of landscapes.

Once Lara escapes the very unpleasant cave system in which gameplay kicks off, she finds herself on the borders of a forest, which leads into a Japanese-style temple village. The forest is a rocky, dripping hollow filled with starkly vertical vegetation, and the temple structures cluster on ledges, crowding into all available horizontal space. It made me nostalgic for Japan.

Yamatai is just as much a charact- *is
beaten to death by the cliché police*

“It’s definitely referenced and researched from a village in Japan called Niko. It’s a mountain village steeped with history; there’s ancient, wooden temple or shrine structures, in amongst all of this beautiful forest and rolling mountains and hills,” Horton said. “The feel and look of the forest and trees is very much taken from real flora and fauna from Japan.”

The structures Lara climbs through during an escape from hostile inhabitants of the island are all drawn directly from one of Horton’s research trips to Japan.

Unfortunately, Horton wasn’t able to make a reference trip to a research vessel, so the ship Lara and her company of fellow survivors arrive on, the gear scattered around the island by its wreck, and other sundry naval items were based on other forms of research.

“One thing’s that great it that the Internet is so much better than it was even ten years ago. Reference trips even ten years ago were hard, and the Internet just didn’t have that much stuff,” he said.

Living in San Francisco, Horton couldn’t visit a WWII base to gather reference, but compromised by visiting Alcatraz, the famous island prison in the bay.

“It had this amazing distressed architecture and chipped concrete walls; that feeling of an old place, and I was able to take reference from that,” he said.

“What I couldn’t find in reality or that wasn’t a real place on my trips, we were able to augment with stuff we found on the Internet or other research trips which seemed appropriate enough.”

We have plenty more to share regarding Tomb Raider; keep an eye out for upcoming coverage as we stagger, leap and climb towards its March 5 release date.

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34 Comments

  1. salarta

    Yes, those of us who have been paying attention are quite aware of what “bare-bones essence” this team has decided Lara suddenly has: that she is at the core a weak, terrified womanchild, and the only reason she has ever found anything remotely resembling strength or intellect is that she had to spend a lot of time learning how to survive the wilderness and a bunch of men trying to hurt, kill and possibly rape her. Meanwhile, male protagonists are allowed to start off strong, smart and courageous because men, unlike women such as Lara Croft, are the only ones capable of being born that way.

    I’m disappointed by how readily people are eager to lap this stuff up. I guarantee that if this were a male character getting his origins completely rewritten in this manner, people would be complaining, but since this is a woman, it’s suddenly okay to turn Lara Croft from a tough action star type (which is a rare to non-existent role for female characters to have), to a stereotypical horror film survivor girl that is fragile and weak and “innocent” at her core.

    If the game bombs, as it should, then my faith in video game consumers will remain intact. But if it sells like crazy as it appears it will, then all hope for the video game industry retaining any measure of quality outside of extremely niche content is dead.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. SplatteredHouse

    “but since this is a woman, it’s suddenly okay to turn Lara Croft from a tough action star type…”

    Young woman enjoying educational trip with friends in ocean is thrown into uncertainty and peril, after the ship she was travelling with runs aground, wrecks, and she is forced to adapt to harsh, foreign conditions on a nearby island. Conditions increasingly worsen as supplies are lost, and she realises she has been seperated from her friends, themselves exposed, and in harms way. Lara Croft battles to survive.

    In case you wanted to know the less pathetically hysterical explanation of the plot.
    Women bleed. They spit, swear, shout, get beaten down by circumstance and situation, bruise, push back and are pushed. To not acknowledge, and accept and allow that at the right opportunity is a crippling creative blunder.

    “Meanwhile, male protagonists are allowed to start off strong, smart and courageous because men, unlike women such as Lara Croft, are the only ones capable of being born that way.”

    Sweeping statement. Can the case of Spartacus, who had his wife torn from him (in Starz’ series) and the pair distributed to slavers be used to counter a view that the media will not permit men to be represented similarly to Ms. Croft, in the latest game: http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2013/01/22/1477451/why-the-bloody-sex-soaked-spartacus-is-the-most-progressive-show-youre-not-watching/?mobile=nc

    #2 2 years ago
  3. SplatteredHouse

    I don’t know of many comparable examples in games. The motivations of EA’s Dante character, excepting? (experienced great loss, seeks redemption/restoration.)

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Ireland Michael

    @1 Lara is being written by Rhianna Pratchett, probably one of the most progressive female writers in the entire industry.

    “Meanwhile, male protagonists are allowed to start off strong, smart and courageous because men, unlike women such as Lara Croft, are the only ones capable of being born that way.”

    Wrong. Just as the most obvious example, Nathan Drake’s origin story was more than willing to show him as a naive, scared and frightened young child, one who had a father figure he pretty much depended on to survive, and who helped him grow into the person he was in the earlier games.

    Lo and behold, he was also written by one of the industry’s most progressive female writer, Amy Hennig.

    It’s an origin story. *Any* realistic character has weaknesses and flaws, regardless of their gender.

    “since this is a woman, it’s suddenly okay to turn Lara Croft from a tough action star type”

    Old Lara was a contrived, wannabe sex symbol with an utterly hideous design and ridiculous proportions, made entirely for lonely men to star at. She was insulting to women, and well as to men.

    “if the game bombs, as it should, then my faith in video game consumers will remain intact.”

    So you would prefer consumers buy the same annoying, contrived formula game after game with characters that looked like they were designed as grotesque porn stars? Because that’s *exactly* what the industry needs more of, right?

    “But if it sells like crazy as it appears it will, then all hope for the video game industry retaining any measure of quality outside of extremely niche content is dead.”

    Mountain, meet molehill. I think you two are already intimately acquainted.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. salarta

    @2: And what you gave was essentially the progression of a horror film survivor girl. You call Lara not going through that sort of situation a “creative blunder,” and yet where are the calls for that “creative blunder” to be “corrected” for characters like Leon S. Kennedy or Chris Redfield in the Resident Evil series, or Dante in the Devil May Cry series, or Master Chief in Halo. Why didn’t people complain that Ezio Auditore in the Assassin’s Creed games didn’t act all scared and weak from the outset? It’s only a “creative blunder” if it’s a female protagonist; if it’s a male protagonist, he can be instantly strong and smart and courageous with NOTHING required to “develop” him to that point, and nobody says a single thing about how it’s a “blunder.” Ergo, it’s accurate to say that as trends are showing, as far as the video game industry seems to be concerned, women are naturally born to be strong and tough while women are naturally weak and pathetic and have to “earn” their strength. Typically by having a man teach her the ways of men.

    @4: I’ve thought about the fact this is being written by a female writer, and Rhianna being a woman and a writer does obviously give her more weight for how women should be written. But there are things people like to forget when it suits them. I’m not saying at all that Rhianna is one, but there IS such a thing as a female misogynist. I point this out to remind that a woman writing a female character does not instantly make that writer exempt from judgment on how she depicts that female character as a woman. Secondly, championing a cause and even doing tons of positive work for that cause does not mean that a person, in the future, won’t turn around and do something that hurts it, even if unintentionally. Third and final, what the writer intended can be entirely different from what they end up creating. In the writer’s mind, they may think that they’re writing a deep, rich and complexly layered character that elevates the whole medium to a higher level and makes women look more like people… when the actual message sent out may end up being that women are submissive creatures at heart and need to work at it to be something more.

    If Rhianna were writing a brand new character, and if the medium was swimming in strong female protagonists, this would be fine. But neither are true. Rhianna, whether of her own volition or at the behest of the developer, is rewriting a character that was meant to be seen as a tough action chick into a down and out victim turned survivor.

    Meanwhile, this generation of consoles has seen ALL of the strong female protagonists of past generations rewritten into exactly the same thing Lara is being rewritten as being. Jill Valentine and Claire Redfield, through RE5 and RE:Degeneration, were turned into supporting characters largely used as damsels in distress for Chris and Leon to rescue. Samus Aran was written as so beholden by a “mentor” male that she literally let herself almost die from the heat of lava until he gave her permission to use functions of her own suit; Samus also needed Anthony Higgs to rescue her from Ridley, and of course there was the scene where Adam sacrificed himself for her. Aya Brea, one of the strongest female protagonists of the PS1 era, got rewritten, through “amnesia” (I know the ending, and that’s a whole other rant) as being terrified of combat at her core to the point that she had to be pushed into doing it by a man, on top of being presented first and foremost as a sex object. And then we have “Lara” here, who was perhaps THE symbol of all female protagonist badassery… reduced to acting scared and weak until a mentor, which of course has to be a man, enters into her situation to teach her how to display the qualities that apparently only men can naturally have, a depiction that from what I’ve seen so far is only slightly less bad than what was done to Aya Brea. And the only two characters to make up for the loss of these four women as strong female protagonists are Bayonetta from her game, and Juliet Sterling from Lollipop Chainsaw. Both of which are more well-known for sex appeal than the fact that they’re the only female badasses around. If we count Chell from Portal then she’s the best representation of a strong, courageous female protagonist the industry has left… which says a lot considering she can’t even talk.

    Contrary to what many may think, Rhianna isn’t doing anything new or special here. Other M and 3rd Birthday beat her to the punch. The only difference in this case may be that unlike Other M and 3rd Birthday, it looks like plenty of people may be throwing their money at seeing Lara Croft torn apart into something much, much less than she was.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. salarta

    @4: I realized I had more to say, so I’m adding another comment.

    I’ve never played the Uncharted games, so I’m going by your comment, and I want to point out a key word to what you said about Nathan Drake: child. He was a child when he displayed those characteristics. That is not the same thing as a full-grown man or even older teenage male acting that way.

    Yes, the old Lara became known first and foremost as a sex symbol. But she was also a tough badass at the same time. This leaves me two things to address. One, the problem was the emphasis on her as a sex symbol, NOT her being a tough badass at the core of her identity. Fixing one does not require completely throwing away the other. The other issue is the sex appeal angle… which appears to have been minimized, but I hesitate to say it’s been “corrected.” But I’m not concerned about that, especially since it doesn’t look like she’s getting the Aya Brea treatment of having maid outfits and bunnysuits as alternate costumes or taking softcore porn showers. What I’m concerned about is what the game implies as an “origin” for Lara.

    In sum, I would like something new for Lara Croft and Tomb Raider. The series and the character were in sore need of revision just like Mortal Kombat needed it, that’s obvious to anyone that’s paid attention to the decline of both. But the way Lara Croft as a character is being reimagined with this game is NOT the answer. They could have made this exact same game but with Lara starting out with a tough, strong personality and they would have been fine.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Ireland Michael

    @6 Your point would work for except for the fact that this isn’t a rewrite, it’s an origin story.

    Lara *is* young and she *is* inexperienced. To her, all of this is new. She’ll learn to a more “badass” character through. Giving characters these kinds of human vulnerabilities is far more interesting as an experience than simply “being a badass” would ever ever.

    She never had depth before. At least they’re trying.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. salarta

    @7: It’s a rewrite of the character through an “origin story.” Until now, Lara Croft was understood to be naturally strong, smart, courageous, resourceful, etc. Sure, she likely had training to attain her top notch skills at some stage, but the attitude and personality displayed by her for all intents and purposes as we saw them through past games was natural to her identity, came naturally over years of growing up.

    This “origin story” changes that entirely. According to this, Lara is no longer badass by her very nature. According to this, she had to be trained, at adulthood or near adulthood and entirely as a result of enduring constant trauma rather than her own willful initiative, to gain any semblance of being the badass she showed herself to be in past games. This completely dismantles everything Lara Croft used to be. Despite the emphasis on sex appeal, she WAS a great example of a woman being naturally up to snuff with the rest of the men that the medium is inundated with. Now, she’s just another of the many countless female characters that are reluctantly forced against their will to stop acting like sheltered kids and “man up.”

    In one game, they’ve turned Lara Croft from Ellen Ripley into Laurie Strode. As far as I’m concerned, they’re not trying at all here. If they were trying, Lara Croft wouldn’t be mired in this horror film survivor girl ripoff fare. The team would’ve shown due respect for what we know about Lara Croft and presented her as innately badass. And if they were desperate to have a game that’s about a sheltered little rich womanchild living out a horror movie synopsis to become a survivor girl, they should’ve made a completely different game with a completely different character.

    I’m already not buying anything tied to Squeenix at the moment until they fix the crap they pulled in ruining Aya Brea with 3rd Birthday, but if I did start buying Squeenix games again in the future, I can say with absolute certainty that I will never buy a new game involving the “Tomb Raider” franchise or Lara Croft until this game’s idea of an “origin story” for her is retconned out and she’s given one that gives her her due. Which of course is never going to happen, because this game will sell better than all past ones solely because they’ve changed the gameplay mechanics and spent insane amounts of money and effort to make this look like it’s going to be a new experience. Something they could’ve done just fine without ruining the character in the process.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Da Man

    The new Lara Croft is about as much of an improvement over the old one as the new platforming is in contrast to the old one.

    I can’t wait for Lego Internet Hoes, written by the most progressive writers. A dramatic story about fight for survival, recognition and equality of a Lego cube. Aimed at inferior males whose salary is below average.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Ireland Michael

    @8 You entire argument is full of fallacies.

    Old Lara was a bland cipher, and a horrible looking one at that. She didn’t have any real personality, she had a non-existent backstory. She was a video game equivelant of Rambo with breasts. She existed for the image, and absolutely nothing else. Nobody gave two flying fucks about her as a character.

    You can’t say her origin story is irrelevant or out of character when there’s absolutely nothing to go on to fill in the blanks.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. absolutezero

    I refute you held opinion while constantly insulting the thing that you are trying to defend.

    This will obviously lead to a reasoned response and not one formed on the defensive.

    I am lord and master.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. monkeygourmet

    Anyone with half a brain can see this is all bullshit.

    I don’t care how ‘progressive’ the script writer for this is, and, couldn’t care two shits if they are male or female.

    Such contrived rubbish.

    Aww, poor Lara, so fragile, fighting to survive against the odds.

    Bullshit, we all know how it’ll play out…. She’ll struggle a bit for 5 minutes, then once you get a bow you’ll be ‘headshotting’ rapists from 100 miles away.

    She’ll stumble around at first, then after 5 minutes she’ll be jumping 50 foot through the air and doing a handstand on a cliff edge.

    I almost find this game MORE insulting than the old Tomb Raiders style.

    It least it wasn’t selling a lie. This however is trying to yank on the emotional strings in such a cheap way it’s crazy.

    So many idiots trying to over analyise this, it’s actually funny:

    ‘yeah well, actually, it’s portraying her from a more vulnerable postion hmmm kay… Yeha, it’s actually got a strong female writer hmmm kay… Yeah, well you see, we learn why Lara is the way she is after having to fight through this hardship hmmm kay…’

    What a load of b.o.l.l.o.c.k.s…

    Some of you should listen to yourselves. If your actually think this is anything other than a generic action game with a bolted on Wolf Creek type revenge theme, you are clearly more deluded than I thought.

    How are you going explain the fact that she goes from weak little mousey mouse to crazy bitch ass killer in the space of 3 levels?

    If you want to say, hey dude, it’s a game it’s got to be fun to play. Again I call bullshit. They could have actually made it interesting by truely making a survival game and leaving combat almost out completly.

    But no, they couldn’t do that because then 11 year old boys who want to wank over Lara and 35 year old men who still want to wank over Lara but now feel slighlty less guilty, wouldn’t play a game like that.

    Maybe shock horror, they could have used this template and made a completly new IP?! Then we’d have been saved from all the idiot’s trying to justify this game…

    Anyway, as you were guys, please keep making me lol by trying to push your own sordid little views of a strong female character onto this shameless piece of marketing! :)

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Da Man

    I hate James Bond, stupid oversexualized bullshit. No personality, no backstory, no passionate dramas.

    I need some artistic pleasures to entertain me at the kitchen.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. OlderGamer

    MG +1

    #14 2 years ago
  15. monkeygourmet

    @14

    Ha! That was my Saturday morning rant! Hope you enjoyed it! ;)

    #15 2 years ago
  16. daytripper

    from what ive seen i prefer this lara to the older version.my only doubt is the multiplayer looks shit imo

    #16 2 years ago
  17. salarta

    @10: And this is where things fall. All those films, all those comic books, and the video games including the character suddenly did not have a character with any semblance of a personality. According to your interpretation of Lara Croft’s history as a character, every single thing involving Lara Croft since 1996, the whole past 17 years, has been about obsessing over Lara’s boobs. I’m not even a hardcore fan by any means, the last Tomb Raider game I personally played was Tomb Raider II, and I know the interpretation that she’s just a “cipher” and nothing more is flat out wrong.

    What’s perhaps even sadder about your comment, though I don’t fault you for not knowing given pop culture has whitewashed it out of public knowledge, is your remark about Lara Croft being “Rambo with breasts.” The real Rambo as intended wasn’t a stupid meathead with no dimension except as a kill everything violent fantasy. Rambo as he was created and intended was a war hero that suffered immensely from PTSD as a result of all the horrible crap he had to deal with during the Vietnam War, and in the first film (based off a novel), a lot of the focus was on how much undue disrespect and hatred war veterans were getting from average civilians for fighting in Vietnam.

    While I will say you’re right that most people cared about Lara Croft for her sex appeal more than any type of personality, how people choose to think of her is not the same thing as what the character was actually like. Rambo had a personality and a core to him that wasn’t just a cipher for violence, and Lara Croft had one that wasn’t just a cipher for horndog fantasies.

    And I have to say “was” at this point because the real Lara Croft is essentially dead thanks to this game. This game’s “Lara Croft” isn’t Lara Croft, it’s a fanfic level reimagining of her into being a completely different character. Even if this “Lara” “develops” into having the same qualities the real Lara Croft had, she is not and will never be Lara Croft. This charade of a reboot guarantees only that pop culture will remember her as a pathetic little rich kid that had the snot beat out of her by nature, thugs and training by a man to become tough against her will. Until the “origin story” forced on the character and franchise here is completely thrown away and redone with a proper one, Crystal Dynamics isn’t making games that star Lara Croft. They’re making games that star a brand new character that they slapped the name and face of Lara Croft on to sell more copies.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. monkeygourmet

    @17

    Nice post, very true

    #18 2 years ago
  19. salarta

    @18: Thank you monkeygourmet. I like your post as well. Some people genuinely believe what they’re saying when they defend this game, but I think many are just looking for any excuse they can find to justify their excitement for a game that they may be increasingly realizing isn’t good for Lara Croft as a character after all.

    It pisses me off whenever I see these companies “reinventing” IPs into something so entirely unlike what the IP was intended to be that it should be a completely new franchise. Mortal Kombat 9 did rebooting right. It went back to a point in the series that people loved and respected, and reinforced and built upon all the things they always loved. It didn’t assume people will only play the game if it has blood, nor did it assume that the game had to make everyone tragic traumatized creatures when everything shown about them to date did not frame them that way. We didn’t see episodes about Mileena sobbing over everyone calling her ugly and learning she only gets respect from sex and violence. Nor did we watch Kitana looking like an older teenager getting slapped around by an abusive “father” Shao Kahn and having to “toughen up” against her will to handle the abuse. Yet for some reason, this company seems to think it’s absolutely imperative to make it look like Lara Croft only became the symbol she was because trauma forced her into it. It’s disgusting, and sad that they’re going to get the kind of sales that will mistakenly make them think that this new direction was the right way to go.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. monkeygourmet

    @19

    Exactly.

    I wish companies would just have the balls to create a new ip. It’s like they have so little faith in their idea’s they have to get an old franchise to back it up to a marketing team.

    It’s the same with movies at the moment unfortunately.

    Also, what’s its made me realise is, I’m am truly not the demographic anymore. I’m 31 (not sure of your age), but these themes will always get diluted as most companies know the main demographic are 14 year old males.

    No matter how intense they want to pretend the emotional side of this story is, it’s still a waste of time. I would have preferred if this game had created a completly new IP and character rather than try and drag the Lara Croft brand into it.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Ireland Michael

    @17 Even the creators of the movies fully admitted that Eidos provided absolutely no back story or information regarding the character, because there literally wasn’t any beyond “Lara is a tomb raider who finds a few artefacts”. As a result, everything relating to the character beyond the video games is entirely open to those creators’ interpretation, meaning that ultimately isn’t actually any sort established canon or identity for the character.

    tl;dr version: Half of your assumptions of the character are coming out of thin air. This is the first and only time they’ve ever actually bothered to establish a proper backstory for the character’s indentity.

    I for one think it’s a great one.

    @20 You can’t know the strength of the story until you’ve played the game. Me? I’m choosing to be cautiously optimistic.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. monkeygourmet

    @21

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the game will be polished and enjoyable.

    I just think it would have been polished and enjoyable with a new character that’s all.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. absolutezero

    I think Tomb Raider Chronicles did more than good enough of a job of setting up Lara.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. salarta

    @21: What the creators of the movies thought was a lack of material to work with is not the same thing as actually not having material to work with. Alec Guinness came to loathe the Star Wars films he starred in as Obi-Wan Kenobi and considered them fairly poor in quality, does that mean they suck? Whether the creators of the films know it or not, the source material is guaranteed to have instilled a general idea for them to build from. And then, of course, there’s Wikipedia, in which Lara’s creator explicitly says that he created Lara Croft (after finally deciding to use a female character) to challenge the awful female stereotypes of the time that women could only be bimbos (which this reboot basically turns Lara into at the base of who she is) or dominatrices.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lara_Croft#Development_history

    You’re right that this is the first time that a company has tried to provide a depiction of Lara’s origin story. It’s just a shame they decided to make it an origin story that makes Lara Croft look like all the years of being a naturally tough, strong, smart and brave woman to admire and respect, is instead someone that was naturally inclined toward being a spoiled rich girl full of fear at the prospect of doing anything remotely resembling what the real Lara Croft was.

    Let me get something straight, too. I’d be all for a game about a female character that starts off innocent and sheltered, ends up in a traumatic situation, and rises above it admirably, turning herself from a victim into a survivor. That is a good story. But that’s not what Lara Croft is or ever should be, and when forced on Lara Croft, it becomes a piece of crap that should have never been created. Any merits the concept would’ve provided as a brand new IP are now completely lost because they have been used to destroy what was a powerful symbol of female characters being worthy of a place as female protagonists. This game is ruining Lara Croft as a character, and in doing so has guaranteed that the potential of the base storyline if it was a brand new character gets none of the respect it might have deserved.

    I’m not going along with a game that tries to force a strong female character into taking on an entirely different role of spoiled rich kid turned victim that she doesn’t deserve. She deserves better. The real Lara Croft may have been rich, and may have been a kid at one point in time, but she was never a sheltered victim. The real Lara Croft is an action hero, not a horror victim, and to suggest she was at any point a horror victim is to stomp and spit on the whole concept of her.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. absolutezero

    Heres young Lara talking to a corpse hanging from a tree and not giving a shit.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvoRfDP9vqQ&feature=player_detailpage#t=310s

    New Lara would be shitting herself like when she finds the cave sculpture.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. The Dude

    @19

    Salarta, very interesting points you’ve made. While I don’t mind the redesign of Lara Croft’s image – she’s still recognisable as Lara to me – I do question the new direction in which her character is being taken, or rather the origin of her character.

    Why does she have to start a victim in order to become strong, rather than *be* a strong woman in the first place who is motivated by her own character and strength of will make herself stronger? That’s what I always assumed the original L.C was — badass from the get-go. Not that her early days mattered that much to me anyway, mind you.

    I also was a fan of the series up until number 2 (I thought it went downhill after that) and whilst barely being in my teens at that point could, never thought of Lara as a “walking pair of tits”.. Yes, for a young male that is certainly attractive and may draw your attention to her, but if you genuinely like a character then it’s easy to get over what bra size they wear quite quickly. I thought she was cool! :)

    Regarding what you said about the MK9 reboot btw, I think you’re spot on. I played 1-3 back on the Sega megadrive and loved them, but fell out of the series after that. I had no interest in the Mortal Kombat games from 4 onward. The reboot, however, brought me right back and I thought it was fantastic. Keeping true to the original vision, it brought everything up to date and revitalised a tired, old series. I feel this is something games like DmC for example have gotten horribly wrong. What’s the point of rebooting if you’re going to drive away fans rather than recapture them? Remind them of the reason why they enjoyed it in the first place etc. I think when something moves too far away from its origin, it becomes something else entirely.

    It’s a forced change rather than a natural evolution.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. monkeygourmet

    @24

    You should comment more! :)

    #27 2 years ago
  28. salarta

    @26, 27: Thanks. :) I write when I feel like what I have to say is important, and I’m glad to see people putting thought into the character and who she’s always been. It means a lot to me to see people that can think for themselves and are not allowing themselves to have their opinions controlled by whatever company happens to have legal ownership of a copyright.

    I hate the people that instantly assume a character has no dimensions, has always been just a pair of boobs or just a plot device. I dealt with it a lot when, discussing Final Fantasy 4, the worst of the Rydia fanboys out there kept framing Rosa as having no personality or being nothing but a damsel in distress. There are far too many people that care not at all about understanding characters and the concepts underlying them. And sadly, we’ve entered into an era where companies are eager to rip out the soul of a character and force a bunch of junk in them out of soulless desperation and greed just because there are too many consumers too blind to see the greatness that’s already there.

    For all my ranting, sadly I think it may be too late to save Lara Croft from ruination. No matter what the sales of this game are, Crystal Dynamics has made it their mission to make sure everyone thinks of Lara as a traumatized spoiled rich womanchild starring in a horror film, and the modern idea of “business” is to never admit mistakes. Hopefully a decade from now, Lara Croft’s actual origin story will be told. Until then, as far as I’m concerned, they stopped making Tomb Raider and Lara Croft products back in 2010, and anything made claiming to have Lara Croft in it since then has less merit than almost all Tomb Raider fanfiction made before the announcement of this “reboot.”

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Ireland Michael

    I completely disagree with everything you’re saying about Lara, but I’ll totally concur with what monkey said. You should comment a lot more. Really good stuff.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. Da Man

    Lolcons never played any of the old TRs, they couldn’t get past the first jumping section.

    You know it’s actually true.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. Cobra951

    @24: “I’d be all for a game about a female character that starts off innocent and sheltered, ends up in a traumatic situation, and rises above it admirably, turning herself from a victim into a survivor.”

    Now why does that sound so familiar? Oh yeah! Far Cry 3. Except Jason Brody isn’t female.

    Not exactly an original plot. I guess the difference is that no special-interest groups have apoplectic fits when a guy stars in it.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. mreko3230

    This is why I love the internet- all this heated debate and telling of “facts” of a game no one has sat down and played yet. Its always such extreme opinions on both sides. One person wants nothing to change and everything to be the same and another wants to feel like they are playing something new. And then there is my favorite kind of person- the person who screams from the mountain tops that they want something different and then get pissed when its not the “different” they envisioned….classic internet…love it.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. salarta

    @31: Far Cry 3 was the first time Jason Brody was ever used; it’s not like he was the star of Far Cry and Far Cry 2 and he suddenly had a trauma story forced onto his character history in Far Cry 3 when everything that came before never framed him in such a way. But, even if things were different, I have to say I wouldn’t know about it and probably wouldn’t care, because I have no interest in Far Cry. I had to do a Google search just to find the information I needed to write this reply.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. bugmenot

    “Research trips” ? There is no Niko in Japan. However, one beautiful city is called “Nikkō”.

    Never say kekko until you’ve seen Nikkō.

    #34 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    TwitchPlaysHalo is ridiculous. Halo: Combat Evolved is the latest game to be sucked into the “TwitchPlays” phenomenon, and the results are somewhat painful to spectate. If you’re not familiar with the setup, which debuted with TwitchPlaysPokemon, the game accepts commands from the channels’ chat stream. Although it doesn’t have the strategic RPG elements of Pokemon, […]

  • Gold Amiibo sold out, selling at five times RRP on auction sites

    Gold Mario Amiibo are expected to sell for pretty astounding profits on eBay and other auction sites. The Walmart-exclusive Gold Mario Amiibo is already completely sold out. Plenty of people managed to snaffle them to resell, though. There are now dozens of listings on eBay and other auction sites. One of the average asking prices […]

  • Canadian new game prices jump to $75

    Canadian gamers are in for an unpleasant price hike. As spotted by HardcoreGamer, the local Canadian branches of Amazon and EB Games have raised the prices of upcoming games to CAD$75. The CAD$5 increasing comes within a year of prices hitting the CAD$70 point. CAD$75 (£38/€53) currently exchanges for $60, the standard US pricing. The […]

  • New Xenoblade Chronicles X footage shows weather, day-night cycle

    The latest Xenoblade Chronicles X footage shows off a gloriously beautiful world. Xenoblade Chronicles X is Monolith Soft’s first solo Wii U game, and the developer is clearly enjoying being able to build a big open world with all the features we’ve come to expect. Missed the whole Xenoblade thing? Chronicles X is a sort […]

  • Dead Rising: Watchtower teaser talks up the benefits of Zombrex

    Live-action Dead Rising movie Watchtower is almost upon us. Dead Rising: Watchtower will release on Crackle on March 27, and via other digital distributors thereafter. Enjoy the short teaser below, courtesy of IGN.

  • We Happy Few debut hits you upside the face with a frying pan

    Contrast developer Compulsion Games has revealed its next project – the delightfully creepy-looking We Happy Few. We Happy Few is set in “a drug-fuelled, retrofuturistic city in an alternative 1960s England” where “a plucky bunch of moderately terrible people trying to escape from a lifetime of cheerful denial”. Players are tasked with blending in with […]

  • Slender: The Arrival creeping onto PS4, Xbox One in March

    Slender: The Arrival sold like hotcakes on PC and last-gen consoles, so why not terrify yourself on PS4 and Xbox One, too? Slender: The Arrival will release on PS4 on March 24 and on Xbox One on March 25, developer Blue Isle Studios has announced, for $10. No word on that Wii U version, though. […]

  • GOG weekend sale celebrates German debut

    DRM-free games vendor GOG is celebrating its German-language launch with a tasty sale. The sale offers discounts over 25 “German favourites”. Highlights inclue 97% off Deponia, and less steep but still tasty savings on Memoria and Blackguards 1 and 2. The sale will run through March 3, and you do not have to be, speak, […]

  • Humble Weekly Bundle goes back to Japan

    The latest Humble Weekly Bundle is called Made in Japan, and I’m sure you can guess the theme. Pay what you want for Cherry Tree High Complete Pack (PC; Steam or DRM free), Fairy Bloom Freesia (PC; Steam or DRM free) and Influent + Language Pack (Linux, Mac, PC; Steam or DRM free). Pay more […]

  • Capcom “looking into” solutions to Resident Evil: Revelations PC co-op issue

    Resident Evil: Revelations 2 fans should sit tight for a bit, as Capcom is working on some sort of solution to the co-op issue. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 doesn’t have local co-op on PC and fans are pretty mad about that, as it was advertised ahead of release as a key feature. Although Capcom has […]

  • The games industry is disruption, says Assassin’s Creed producer

    Former Assassin’s Creed producer Jade Raymond has characterised the games industry as one long series of upsets. The games industry changes all the time, and that’s one of its best qualities, Raymond said. The ex-Ubisoft leader told Polygon that the reason seh got into games in the first place was because it “is this undefined […]

  • GTA 5 made $31 million in digital revenue in January

    GTA 5 is the highest-grossing title at the moment in terms of digital revenue, and the PSN is absolutely minting it. Digital games industry analyst Superdata has extended its scope to include console games, which means we suddenly have access to a whole bunch of data we’ve only been able to guess at, or extrapolate […]

  • Destiny: Inferno playlists debut next week

    Destiny PvP will shake things up next week with a new way to slaughter your mates in the Crucible. Destiny is already a skilled PvP game, but the new Inferno playlists will turn things up a notch with a focus on “basic gunplay”. The first of these, Inferno Control, kicks off on March 3 and […]

  • First-person camera coming to Guild Wars 2 next month

    ArenNet has announced its adding nonrestrictive first-person view to Guild Wars 2. Here’s what top expect come March 10: First-person Camera: Zooming in all the way will allow players to experience a first-person view. First-person mode is available while standing in place, walking, running, jumping, playing PvP and just about anything else. There aren’t any […]

  • Shadowrun Online signs on with Nordic

    Shadowrun Online has been given a nice little boost thanks to a distribution deal with Nordic Games. Shadowrun Online is a new team tactical RPG from Cliffhanger Productions. Although it’s already available through Steam Early Access, Nordic has agreed to distribute the finished version, which is due on Linux, Mac and PC in the second […]

  • Final Fantasy 15 is 60% finished, game world ten times the size of demo

    Final Fantasy 15 is 60% finished, according to director Hajime Tabata. Speaking with IGN, Tabata said development will kick into high gear once the Episode Duscae demo is released. “It’s about 60% now. People may look at that and say ‘well, you’ve only done five more percent!’ [since 55% in September] but it’s actually a […]

  • Destiny: you don’t need to visit the tower to access your vault

    Destiny players, you asked for it and Bungie has delivered it: you can now swap items in and out of the vault using the companion app. “Destiny needs more vault space” you cry – and yes, this is true. But while we all struggle with the limitations imposed on us by Bungie, we face all […]

  • Mortal Kombat X will contain over 100 Brutalities

    During the Mortal Kombat X stream today, NetherRealm Studios revealed Brutalities are back for the game, and stated there will be over 100 to pull off. You won’t gain any extra experience for being overly cruel with your painful moves, but you will at least get to laugh at some and “cringe” at others, according […]

  • Numenera: Strand is a film based on the game up on Kickstarter

    Numenera, the 2012 Kickstarter success and foundation for Torment: Tides of Numenera, could become a film if the Kickstarter for the movie is successful. With five days left, Monte Cook Games and Swedish film company Valdes/Eriksdotter needs £22,542 to reach its goal. Titled Numenera: Strand, it tells the tale of a drifter who “roams a […]

  • Gran Turismo 6 update adds MINI Clubman Vision, more

    A Mini Cooper has invaded Gran Turismo 6 via a new update. The Mid-Field Raceway track has also been added, and its a new and improved version of the original track from previous Gran Turismos. The new B-Spec Mode feature has also been added which allows the AI driver to race on your behalf. Additional […]

  • Nintendo is bringing New 3DS Xl and some playable titles to PAX East

    Nintendo is bringing New 3DS Xl and Splatoon with it to PAX East next month. The E3 2014 build of the game lets eight players transform into squids in a race for “splattered-paint dominance.” Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. will also be playable and featured in stage presentations at the Nintendo booth. Upcoming or newly released Nintendo […]