Not once through TOMB RAIDER do we get a glimpse at the Lara Croft we all know and love. That Lara Croft is gone with the times. New times: new Lara. Even more bad-ass then before. The Lara we knew would never curse. Not once did our Lara bite a guy’s ear off. She shot at guys and could kill a guy with a known number of shots if you’d played the game enough times. And brought down a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a dragon. She had shorts that got shorter with every game and a braid that got longer and graphics that got better and an infinite backpack where she could put a harpoon gun, a grenade launcher, a shotgun and an M16, and holsters that could hold dual pistols, dual magnums and dual uzis at once and if you knew the codes you had unlimited ammo and unlimited medipacks.
Well, new Lara has none of those things. New Lara has got a freaking BOW AND ARROW (this is exciting for someone who does archery). And eventually, yes, she gets the shotgun and the pistols and the grenade launcher. So maybe old Lara isn’t gone; just improved upon.
Finally the reboot we were waiting for since the failure that was Angel of Darkness. Seriously: how could Lara have possible survived that Pyramid collapse in The Last Revelation (dear self, please note that this is a VIDEO GAME!)
So far, this post looks a little all over the place so I’m going to go back to the beginning. Let’s go back to the year 1997… (Oh god I really should be studying…)
Lara Croft gets approached in Calcutta by a man working for Jacqueline Natla who is looking for something called the scion. Lara was the first hard, bad-assed heroine (though people saw her as a sexist view of women). She was Indiana Jones feminized. Lara travelled from Peru to Greece to Egypt. She did an amazing stunt on a motorbike. The cutscenes were pretty cool. The graphics were totally unrealistic: no one has boobs that pointy (again, self: VIDEO GAME).
By 1997, Lara’s figure had improved somewhat, she was given her iconic plait, we got to go outside of Lara’s house, and we were allowed to drive a boat (Venice was a pretty sweet level) and a snowmobile. We had a levels that took place solely underwater in a shipwreck. We saw Lara model a number of new outfits, although that heavy jacket and shorts combo in Tibet was questionable. With all the developments we saw in this one, as well as a pretty engrossing storyline and visually (though not quite yet graphically) stunning levels, this game is easily my favorite from the mix.
Tomb Raider 3 saw the player allowed to pick which area of the map s/he got to visit next. The options were: India (set for beginning), South Pacific, Nevada, London and Antarctica (set for ending). This was the first game in which Lara could sprint. It also built on Lara’s Mansion offering puzzles such as navigating your way around the house to obtain the ‘Quad Track’ gate key where you could do the time trail on the quad. There was also a pretty cool glitch where at a point in the outdoor obstacle course, by making Lara jump a few times she would end up ‘walking on air’ which would then allow her to get up onto the roof. Pretty cool. The concept of quicksand is introduced in this game. Some new guns are featured such as the Desert Eagle.
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, from 1999, is a close second in my favorites. The games opens up with Teenage Lara, whose ditched her plait for pigtails and gives an impressive back story to how she got the magical backpack. This game features the introduction of Werner Von Croy, a mentor to Lara. It also marks the first time I cried at a video game. Lara can swing from ropes, climb up and down ropes and poles, can shimmy around corners, gets to drive a CAR (an actual car). And, of course, that heart-breaking ending that still makes me cry. TLR also was the first Tomb Raider Game to not feature Lara’s Mansion.
The second least successful game was Tomb Raider: Chronicles. The game begins with three of Lara’s closest friends sitting by a fire discussing her. One by one they each tell a story about Lara and each level acts as a level within the game: Lara’s search for the Philosopher’s Stone in Rome, The Spear of Destiny in Russia, and in the Black Isle in Ireland, Lara is seen again as a teenager investigating the paranormal occurrences on the island. And in the final level we see Lara infiltrate a high tech complex in search of the artifact that appeared at the beginning of The Last Revelation.
Then came the questionable Angel of Darkness in which Lara attempts to clear her name as she travels across Europe in order to find the real murderer (duh duh duh!). This game features the first time the player chooses what Lara says, and also introduces an additional playable character. Not one of my favorite games (there was only ONE tomb!), I found Lara hard to control though the game offered a good storyline, excellent graphics.
Then game the Next Generation: Tomb Raider: Legends; Tomb Raider: Anniversary and Tomb Raider: Underworld. Three games where Lara searched for answers surrounding her mothers death; a re-release of the first game; and the reintroduction of Jacqueline Natla. Lara’s wardrobe had grown substantially, her weapons had become limited.
And here we are: full circle.
Tomb Raider. 2013. Lara Croft. Young archaeologist to hardened survivor. Incredible graphics. Realistic EVERYTHING. Heart-wrenching moments. First game to be given an M or MA or R rating (whatever it is…) Times you get grossed out and times you shout ‘HOLY SHIT THAT WAS AMAZING I CAN’T BELIEVE IT OHMYGOOOOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’
Mazel Tov, Crystal Dynamics!