The next Lara Croft may turn out to be none of the above. Eidos has been hinting that they plan to give Lara a "female-friendly makeover" for Tomb Raider 9. [Times Online, 1/10/09] I'm not sure exactly what that means. Maybe it's just marketing jargon for "smaller boobs" or perhaps it means a bigger wardrobe and less combat. (For some reason developers seem to think female gamers only enjoy The Sims and Barbie Fashion Show. Please.)
I find it ironic that in the article cited above Eidos CFO Robert Brent likened Lara's evolution to Batman's. The Times quotes Brent as saying, "Look at how Batman changed successfully, from the rather sad character of the Michael Keaton era to the noir style of The Dark Knight." Maybe Brent is not familiar with the early Batman comics of the '30s and '40s or Frank Miller's 1986 graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns. Rather than reinventing the character, the Dark Knight movie goes back to his roots. So perhaps unintentionally Brent is saying that the original Lara should be resurrected.
Personally, I'm not all that hung up on Lara's appearance or the details of her biography. While I certainly enjoy the classic games and respect the players who are loyal to the original Lara, I also loved the Legend-Underworld storyline. As long as future plots are interesting and Lara remains strong, resourceful, independent and adventurous, I don't mind if she evolves a bit.
The cosmetic aspects—Lara's bra size, wardrobe, hairdo, etc.—are much less important to me than how the games play. I'll write more later about why it's a bad idea to dumb down the level design and gameplay, but this post is about Lara.
So what do you think? Do you prefer "classic" Lara, "new" Lara, something in between or something totally different? What is your ideal heroine like, and what do you want to see in Tomb Raider 9?
1998 pin-up Lara - Click for full-size image. Promotional art
for Tomb Raider 3 ©Core Design/Eidos Interactive
2009 pin-up Lara by Nicobass - Click for full-size image.
Visit Nicobass on DeviantArt.