July 6, 2009

Does Lara Need (Yet Another) Makeover?

Recently two of my friends were interviewed for an article on whether or not Lara Croft should be recreated yet again for the next Tomb Raider game. ["Does Lara Need a Makeover?" Greenpixels.com] Both Katie Fleming and Ash Kaprielov are among the players who miss the tough, no-nonsense adventurer from the earlier games. Others either aren't familiar with the original character or prefer the more emotional character in the newer games. Still others like the dangerous, hard-edged Lara from the unfinished Angel of Darkness trilogy.

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

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  1. I shudder to think what "female-friendly" means, or rather, what they think the average female gamer would want. If female gamers are already participating in a male-dominated activity then they're probably pretty happy with things as they are. I don't think I've been put off buying a Tomb Raider game because of the size of her chest or the lack of outfit customization.

    Personally, I prefer the old Lara; the disowned rebel from the classics. I could have coped with the story change if it wasn't rammed down our throats during Legend. I also appreciate CD's attempts to revert back to the old Lara in Underworld, but she's still too gushing and sentimental for me.

  2. I thought Lara in Anniversary was a little soft, but I have to say I enjoyed it when Lara went off on Amanda at the end of Legend. ("Where..." bang! "...is...." bang! "...my..." bang! "...mother?!") :D Maybe now that the Amelia/Avalon storyline is wrapped up, we can get back down to business.

  3. Lara has always been wise, level-headed and balanced. I don't see how she can be the tough can-do woman we have come to love without having a heart to guide her actions. She is neither shallow nor narrow-minded, but wordly, with a rich, diverse, cultural experience tempered with the wisdom of history. Lara can be anything she wants to be, and I hope she continues to surprise us with her knowledge, wit, wisdom and heart.

  4. another makeover?they already did it in underworld.from my point of view she must be the same like in underworld.now they plan to reinvent lara every game?lara is not madonna!so stop it eidos/cristal dinamics!for example sonic & mario they almost always looked the same.when you want to make a change that means that the franchise is loosing ground,it's beggining to loose grip to the fans & media.that's not the case of tomb raider & lara croft.it's true that i don't understand why underworld was not been declared the game of the year!it had everything!especially the graphics-best grapihcs i have ever seen in my life!just breath-taking & with all that atmospheric,relaxing music from the demo.(i don't know the name of the location).underworld has even better graphics than half-life 2 so think about it!the game is almost 100% real!i think that i played that pc demo for about 20 times!it just blew me away-i can't wait to play the whole game!i really think that it really was the game of the year 2008 topping even red alert 3,new super mario bros & the others.it's a shem because only tomb raider 1 & maybe 2 where declared game of the year & now was a great opportunity-no starcraft 2 & diablo 3 around!a remake cannot be declared game of the year because-it's just a remake.legend it would have been but it's too short!
    we barely seen lara's new image-i mean in only 1 game which is obviously underworld & now want to change her again?that's so stupid!
    i really,really want to see tr2-remaked with the engine of underworld!it would be something more than breath-taking!i will be very dissapointed if that wil not happen:(((((

  5. i like all the saga very much!i like very much both the new & old lara!i don't know how many fans feel this way!
    in anniversary you have the classic lara outfit so all the fans can be pleased.
    i saw again the batman movies last month & i have to admit that there are a lot of similarities!a lot!i want toby gard to speak the thruth-if he really was inspired from the batman movies...

  6. My favorite Lara remains the original. She was unique, never flinched at danger and her adventures were so memorable I can picture entire levels in my mind's eye.

    She has always taken the changes in costume, etc in stride, I think.

    For me, the games became problematic design wise once they were created with consoles in mind. The save game points and the necessity to start sequences over instead of saving when you needed to (save before each jump was our mantra here at my house) really made for a poorer game.

  7. I Think Lara Need more of a CLASSIC Angel of darkness Look Or TOMBRAIDER ONE THROUGHOUT Six
    As Long as she has the BRAIDED PONYTAIL

  8. i don't see what's wrong with the Underworld lara! why the need for change? i think eidos is starting to get paranoid about not being 'different' enough

  9. So they're going to throw Drake's Fortune and Silent Hill in a blender, give it a whirl, and see if something original comes out...? Feh!

    I agree that Underworld was finally taking things in the right direction again. It just needed a little more combat--maybe a boss at the end of every 4 levels, like in Anniversary, instead of every one, like in Legend. And of course more puzzles, more puzzles, and did I mention more puzzles? Isn't that what Tomb Raider is all about? :D

  10. Tomb Raider has been first and foremost about helping a lovely, charismatic and talented woman with her adventures; while travelling to exotic places with dangerous creatures to avoid or kill in self-defense and priceless prizes to collect for a museum or one's own collection. We may be drawn by her beauty and find there is a lot to admire about the talent. She is an expert with many weapons and has the gymnastic abilities to get her to any place treasure is hidden. Although her appearance had been perfected I would like to see improvement in the sound effects for her weapons and perhapes some "bigger" weapons to choose from. Also, an open world to play in with vehicles ala Grand Theft Auto.

  11. the way i see it, tomb raider 9 is before lara is an adventure, therefore she should be realistic, she's a young woman lost on an island with no idea how to survive. The game is supposed to tell you how she became LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER, so you need her to start off as a young girl and grow up into a strong hardened woman. simple. oh and if you want see some other nice pics of games (i'm making a tomb raider one) then go to game art (its on blogspot)

  12. i just love underworld i just dont know why they give xbox more than the PS3 like the downlodable content an other stuff but i think it might be because they pay for the internet im just geussing

  13. Lara in the AOD is very nice to me :D. cos in this game she's most aproximated with the Lara that appears in the movies in previous games (1-5). The real and original Lara :)
    But since 2006, the new videogames, new tecnologies, forced the game designers to create a 'most real woman' (face, eyes, body, hair, etc).
    That's why, each new game, one different lara. underwolrd is the 'top' for the most part of the fans.
    But i liked lara in legend, she looks like a hmm how can i tell.. a 'mature' woman, you know. (She's probably 27-30 in this game - i think). She got younger in underworld to me.
    As i said eidos and Crystal D. are concentrate in a Real woman... but sometimes, try to create a real, perfect, perfect and perfect thing, can become a mistake.
    I think the game objective needs to be in storyline and more challenging gameplay.. Lara is beautiful, perfect now... she doesn't need more and more changes.
    Please designers, take care!! :$
    I like Crystal D.... But Core Design was fantastic ;)

  14. Original is defnetly my fave. Got the ps1 out last weekend and played TR3.
    That is a good game. thinking of getting anniversary though. its a remake of tr1 and it hopefully is a alright game.