September 24, 2011

Tomb Raider 30-Day Challenge Day 24: Does anything bother you about the Tomb Raider series?

UPDATE: This month-long challenge has officially finished, but you're still welcome to post your comments below at any time. We'd love to hear what you think.

I'm sure we all have our pet peeves—whether it's something about the gameplay itself, the way Lara has been portrayed, or even just having to wait 4 years for the next game. What, if anything, bugs you about Tomb Raider and why?

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The thing that most annoys me is the difference between this:

. . . and this:

I have no problem with the idea of Lara as a sexy, sexual woman, but the character portrayed in the games is clearly not pin-up material. She doesn’t have time time for that crap. She's got places to go and things to kill.

Anyone who bought the games because they thought they'd be seeing a half-naked woman traipsing through the tombs was undoubtedly disappointed. And most of us who bought the games for what they actually were, find this type of marketing completely cringeworthy. I get tired of having to explain to non-gamers that Tomb Raider really isn't "like that".


  1. I overheard a guy last Monday talking to his friends about playing Tomb Raider Underworld, and his exact words were "Ugh, I totally failed at playing Tomb Raider the other day, I couldn't concentrate cause of her MASSIVE tits." he went on to explain what he was doing on the side... Ugh. I hate how Lara is perceived as just an object. I remember when one friend was looking through my Tomb Raider games and DVDs, she asked if I was a lesbian because of how she's portrayed - Tomb Raider isn't about sex! I can see exactly why Toby Guard left for Tomb Raider II; Lara isn't supposed to be a sex object, she was designed to be different to all the other prominent female characters in the gaming and film world.

    Oh, and I also dislike the cameras. But doesn't everyone? ;)

  2. Something that really bothers me is that everyone is saying that the upcoming Tomb Raider had inspiration from the Uncharted games. I mean, I like Uncharted a lot, I have both games, but it isn't Uncharted that inspired Lara, is Lara that inspired Uncharted! Simply because, as I have played both franchises, I can clearly see A LOT of similarities between both franchises. Both Uncharted games seem to be based on Legend. Everything from mechanics, to story in general, level design, treasures/secrets. And I get very frustrated that Lara didn't get the deserved credit. Just because the Uncharted gameplay is a bit more solid than modern TR (for now) doesn't mean he is a god of anything -.-

  3. Yep, looks like the comment box works :) And thank you, Stella! I couldn't agree more. I hadn't thought of anything about TR that bothered me until I read what you said above and then I was reminded of some of the "fan" art I've seen as well as the stories a few years ago about a modded TR game called "Naked Raider". I wish people like that would stick to surfing porn sites and leave Lara alone. We've got better things to do.

  4. In the old days before CD I used to be vaguely worried about which religions were fair game for being used and which were not. Core was quite happy having a giant statue of Shiva as a boss, but I never noticed them having a giant statue of Jesus or Mohammed as part of a level.

    How naive I was complaining about political correctness, given the PC horrors than have been perpetrated in recent years!

    Now the only politically incorrect things "allowed" in the games is "female character as victim" and "violence is OK against generic 'red shirts' provided Lara keeps her clothes on whilst murdering them". I am distressed and continue to be distressed at the Americanisation of Lara and the resulting loss of black humour. The new Lara may be able to get up after having a spike through the intestines, but I bet her farts still smell of Mom and apple pie. And these days she never seems to escape a father or mother figure helping her become a citizen, the latest Von Croy clone being some guy called Roth that looks like the patriarch in Dynasty. The whole world is not an American or a Japanese teen, and Lara is - sorry was - a grown up character until CD bumbled along with its focus groups and marketing gurus. Shame on the developers for disrespecting such an iconic character.

  5. I have the same problem as Stella!
    I too get sooooooo SICK of people thinking that Lara's just suppose to be some sex symbol all the time its like they wont be happy until shes running around the jungle naked

  6. Umm... Let's see. The movement, the camera, and that people think she's a sex sex.

  7. I'm going to echo the previous sentiments about Lara's over-sexualization. I also have issues with the camera functions in some of the games, although I think it got quite a bit better in the newer games. Movement hasn't bothered me too badly, except in the case of AoD.

    Additionally, I do wish that there would be some "official" version of Lara's biography settled on. It really doesn't bother me all that much, but it seems to me that her backstory has been shifted about and tweaked a good deal over the years... In what knowledge we have about Lara at present, what is canon and what isn't?

  8. So the general consesus of opinion is Lara shouldn't be seen as a sex symbol and I totally agree! How could she possibly have time for posing if she's planning the next raid. I have to agree with Ostercy too, she is breaking away from that terribly English way, the typical stiff upper lip isn't just a university education and posh accent, it comes from hundreds of years of heritage and if her father left her 3 estates, she's definitely from the landed gentry. Hopefully in the next adventure she will be back to the personality as portrayed up to Anniversary, I wasn't too keen on her Underworld character, she went from flowery to mean too quickly.
    I still love the game unconditionally though!
    Moan over, thank you for listening :0)

  9. I understand the "sex object" theme here.

    Still ....

    Why would the producers of the very first TR game gave Lara such larger than average proportions? (not even Angelina Jolie is as big as her, she had to use padding, Why dress here in clothes that, although nice to look at, would not be used by a real adventurer? (to save polygons? Come on!)

    They knew they were taking a risk by making the lead character a woman and they decided that to grab the attention of male players they needed a "hot" woman to be the lead character.

    Obviously one thing lead to another and they we had the Nude Raider.

    Anyway, That's the thing that actually bothers me ... why make her so sexy in the first place.

  10. Yup, I have to agree with Ericketeer, and strongly disagree with SOME of what was said a little further up. Lara was obviously intended to be a sex symbol from the get go. Lets face it, the original Lara was Indiana Jones with a Britsh accent, and a pair of them, to make it interesting.. Basically a man in the shape of a woman. This is not an uncommon male sex fantasy at all.. Very common among, lets say certain computer geeky kind of guys. In fact male authored sf/fantasy is full of these kinds of heroines. A girl/woman with every character trait that's is usually considered male, only of course she looks like a female sex symbol. I remember seeing an interview around the time that Underworld was released where one of the developers was asked what it was that made Lara sexy, he answered "Lara is sexy because she doesn't try to be". I think he put his finger on it exactly (obviously he must have been referring to the in game Lara, and not to the marketing and merchandising around the games).

    However.. and this is a major HOWEVER, Tomb Raider became something much bigger than that from being just excellent designed games. And it got some of the girls playing because, finally, there was a female character to identify with (this was the reason I bought my first Tomb Raider game, at any rate), even though this character was a male sexual fantasy created by a man, for men. And this is what bugged the hell out of me, because I like to think of Lara as, in some way, a feminist in not being the archetypical girl. I guess I have come to some kind of compromise with myself in realizing that a feminist icon (by accident) can still be created by a man, and for reasons that I might not share, and still be an icon and hold something positive.

  11. I hate it when the storyline changes. I liked the British independant Lara from the early games (the one that "only played for sport")

    And I really hate the sexual fantasy bit. There really is no excuse to ressort to that kind of publicity, and a clear example of that is in the Portal games: who cares what Chell looks like naked?

    Another thing that annoys me is the fact that the games have really gotten easier. The older games may have been blocky, I could easily spend over an hour figuring a level out, and that was a lot of fun!

  12. Stella,
    The only thing I REALLY dislike (aside from minor bugs in most of the games) is what you've identified - waiting 4 years for the next game.
    I play them all again, occasionally, but I've already startedy buying other games and by this time next year, I'll probably be more into those than TR Reborn.
    I can't see me not buying it, but it will just be another new game, like LA Noir, not the next in the iconic series.

  13. I hate the changes they made to Lara, especially in AOD and the Legend trilogy. When you compare her to the Lara from TR1, 2 and 3 you can't believe you're playing the same character. I blame the films. What exactly was *not* awesome about Lara's original biography that they had to change the whole thing? I really hate how "character development" now seems to mean "parents have died". Grr.

    Also, Rebecca, I thought your comment was brilliant, especially the bit about how Lara has gone beyond the designer's original expectations to become a feminist icon. That's a good way of looking at things.

  14. What I don't like about TR is... camera. No seriously! Is some places where I want move camera to see what is in front of her before jump or do whatever what need to do at that moment. And TR Anniversary example for me because there was a lot of these places.

  15. It's hard to say something bad about Tomb Raider! But in all seriousness I find it annoying and un-necessary to keep changing Lara's appearance. If it wasn't for the titles of the more recent game a player wouldn't know it was the same Lara we all recognised from the original games!

  16. Great comments, everybody!

    Just to clarify my own position on the sex-symbol issue, I agree with almost everything Rebecca wrote. As I said initially, I have no problem with Lara being sexy or sexual. It adds another dimension to her character, but I don't think the pinup poses and flirty come-on advertisements fit with that character. In my imagination, Lara is sexy without being coy. She's beautiful, tough, witty, adventurous, sarcastic, etc., and those things make her sexy. I think the marketing people saw something and misinterpreted it to make a buck. I certainly understand *why* they did it. I just don't agree with it.

  17. I'll probably be in the minority here, but I'm not a fan of the violence. You may be thinking, "but she's got all those guns", but in the original concept, they only came out when they had to, and discovering new places and solving puzzles were at the fore. Disappearing enemies eliminates the gravity of killing.

  18. well said, rebecca. well said. most of those words were right outta my mouth.

  19. Regarding the hot topic here, "Don't hate me, I'm drawn that way". However, Lara was deliberately drawn 'that' way for a reason.

    If we don't like the general public's view of her as an object, then we should also not like the way she was drawn, to a certain degree.

    As for my biggest peeve, I have 2.

    1-The bugs in the game.
    I don't recall TR2 having that many bugs, but it seems most TR's I've played after had some bugs or other that seriously hampered the game at some point(s).

    2-All cut scenes and game movies aren't accessible after the save. This is really frustrating as it requires either recording the game as I play or replaying a level to the point of the scene.
    It makes compiling a story memento that much harder.

  20. What bugs me about the current games is the switch to a Hollywoodized version of Lara, what bugs me about the Classic games was that in some games (TR3 mostly) you´d be killing policemen and museum guards, I realize Lara was created as a sociopath who didn´t care if she had to break the law to get what she wanted, but it bothers me when I have to kill innocent people or commit crimes as part of a game. Overall a thing that bothers me about the whole series is that Lara, until AoD, became helpless once she didn´t have her guns, you couldn´t even use hand-to-hand-combat, and to this day you still can´t take cover in the games, Lara still prefers to run around in the open during firefights, only in cutscenes does she bother with going for cover.

  21. Yeah, I had that moment this morning playing TR 3 this morning before work: Should a foreign national be slaughtering MPs with a machine gun or releasing dangerous prisoners to help her escape? Subduing/trapping without killing (a la jeeves in the freezer) might have been an interesting turn...

  22. the camera in anniversary! I started playing it today. And I don't know if changing the camera options will make it any better, but I'm using the default settings and its the most annoying camera I've EVER had to fiddle with. I don't know what crystal dynamics did, but whatever it was, they need to change it! Almost made me give up on croft manor after the blasted thing kept moving around. I don't even want to know how annoying it's going to be once I start using "adrenaline mode".
    - KR

  23. I think it's really weird that people find a video game character "sexy". ESPECIALLY early on, she was so...polygons.

    Sometimes, the camera angles do get really annoying. I hate when it makes a sequence 10 times harder just because of a 10 second long stupid camera angle (maybe that's the point? but I don't like it). Also, there were times when the "dynamic" lighting was just horrible. Maybe it's the copy of TR3 that I have, but in some places the lighting and how it blends with the blocky platforms just make it so irritating to play. I like using flares, but only when I feel like it's warranted.

  24. The other anonymous again here, doesn't matter, this let me in memory something very strong, I don't want to see naked Lara, because these mad men like to see Lara nude?, I have not heard a conversation of nude lara, but I very much agree with you, if only lara could control them... :-)
    Release that boat filled full of nude lara pictures and that break when you lose. |--) :)

  25. I agree with Stella, and I also hate the classic Tomb Raider controls. This might be because I've only ever played Angel of Darkness, but I hated those controls, especially the grab button. I found it really annoying, because I'd played other games of that era and they didn't have a grab button.