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Monday December 13, 2010 4:35 pm

Lara Croft gets reinvented for Tomb Raider reboot

tomb raider new lara croft

Tomb Raider has never been a game about pushing the boundaries of the character. Lara Croft herself served as the main attraction, using her alluring sexuality to coerce fan boys into controlling her around through uninspired sequel after sequel. While the gameplay was a novel innovation back in the PS One days, Lara Croft – and Tomb Raider in particular – has been spinning her tires in a rut. Not one to let character die, Crystal Dynamics finally has decided to bring Lara in for rehabilitation.

What is it that drives the story of a game? Is it the action? Or perhaps it is the environment? Certainly these things matter, but what drives them is the character. Great stories are moved along by the characters. The old Lara Croft really had nothing going for her. She’s the trophy wife – a hot chick you married too quickly only to realize just how vapid she really is. Sure you raid tombs and look hot doing it, but why do you do it, Lara? Are you truly happy?

Ironically, Toby Gard designed the character of Lara Croft as a reaction against stereotypes. But look at Lara Croft today and she is the biggest ‘F’-you to female gamers everywhere. Saddening considering the character behind the double D’s is an intriguing one: a wealthy and well educated aristocrat searching for her own way in life.

Transforming Lara into a believable character that is both accessible and strong willed is no simple task. Global Brand Director Karl Stewart and Art Director Brian Horton had to strip down the old Lara Croft in order to birth a new, more authentic person in her place.

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“I think people are looking for realism in their games and they want to believe in their characters,” said Horton. “We wanted to make a girl that was somewhat familiar, yet had a special quality about her – something in the way her eyes look and her expression in her face that makes you want to care for her.”

To get this realism out of Lara Croft, the duo appealed to the emotions. Lara Croft’s eyes in particular are now designed to make her appear both familiar and vulnerable. She no longer has her steely, confident glaze, but her large brown eyes are still aesthetically there.

“She wants to be someone and to pull away from the perception of who she is because of her legacy of being a Croft,” said Horton.

Getting away from surface features and delving into the background of who Lara really is, and who she wants to be, is a major focus of the Tomb Raider reboot. Young Lara’s vulnerability is further contrasted by the lofty expectations of her to adhere to the standards of being a Croft; an aristocrat.

“We didn’t want to make her a sexual object. She is a character that we want you to believe in,” stated Horton.

Getting away from Lara as a sexual object is the biggest change in the franchise. In the reboot, Lara’s sexuality won’t be derived from what she is wearing, but from how she overcomes challenges.

“If for any reason we wanted to put her in a situationthat would be alluring, it isn’t to be alluring. It would be because the situation called for it,” continued Horton.

The end result is sure to be a Tomb Raider game that is more character driven than ever before. However, with Nathan Drake in the picture, will Lara Croft’s reinvention be enough to save Tomb Raider from the sidelines?

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