Lara Croft is without doubt one of the most recognisable female face in gaming. Initially designed to be a man, the developers decided on a drastic sex change as they did not want the character to be likened to another famous adventurer, Indiana Jones. It boggles the mind to think what games would have been produced had they not opted for the polygonal beauty.
My first experience of Lara funnily enough was not the video games; it was watching her campaign in the Lucozade adverts. I instantly took a liking to her and thought she was the coolest digital woman to ever grace my screen. From this point on I became obsessed with Lara, and even into my adult years I remain a fangirl of my digital heroine. In the first part of a two part feature, we take a look at Lara over her beginning years and later years where she flagged ever so slightly.
Happy 20th Anniversary Lady Croft.
Tomb Raider 1996
It’s been 20 years since Lara caught attention from a very obvious demographic of gamers upon her debut game. The promotion image of Lara, was a lot more detailed than her 540 polygon model in game. Her tiny waist and top heavy shelf certainly shot her into the spotlight. Although her outward appearance caused plenty of debate within the gaming world, the game was actually very good. It boasted an immersive story line, revolutionary graphics and enticing game play. Lara was the most detailed character out there at the time, and her famous breasts was actually an ‘accident’ having being over-inflated by 150% rather than 50%.
Tomb Raider II 1997
Eidos certainly capitalised on and tailored the sequel to the audience that the Tomb Raider games were attracting at that time. Eidos concentrated on Lara’s sex appeal, which was taking the world by storm, and what launched Lara into wider culture other than video games. Tomb Raider II featured a lower top, curvier curves and blown kisses for her fans. And of course, you could lock the poor butler in the fridge.
Tomb Raider III 1998
Lara and her wonders were now making their annual appearance in the gaming world, much to the delight of the audience demographic at the time. Although Lara’s new instalment still received positive reviews from most pronounced reviewers, the game unfortunately did not move along very much since its first revolutionary instalment back in 1996. Was Lara stagnating?
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation 1999
Yes, we’re going to mention them again but Lara got another improved look: bigger chest and tinier waist, just when we thought that was not possible. It didn’t stop her raiding tombs, however. Not only was Lara’s look improved, but the game also received a lot more positive feedback than Tomb Raider III. At the time, The Last Revelation had some of the best cut-scenes around and the level details were very rich. Lara could do no wrong at this point in her video-game career; even if critics blasted certain aspects the game, the discs would still fly off the shelves.
Tomb Raider Chronicles 2000
Tomb Raider Chronicles was so short that fans did not get ample time to really enjoy the game. It received mixed reviews upon release, and it’s a shame that this game was not nurtured as well as the others. Despite the dramatic ending, this instalment failed to inspire or even add anything
new to the franchise. The only thing that fans could rely on was Lara’s skimpier and tighter outfits.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider 2001
Financially speaking this is probably one of the most successful game-to-movie transitions in history. Although most will see Angelina Jolie as the perfect real-life Lara Croft, even she could not save the film from abysmal reviews. In fact the cast was quite the line up including: Jon Voight (Jolie’s Father), Iain Glen, Daniel Craig and Chris Barrie. The film was visually impressive, and it was exciting to see Lara jumping and shooting about on the big screen, however, it was just not enough. There is talks on the interweb of a re-boot happening in 2017 that will exclude Angelina Jolie, as she publicly announced she would not want to do another Croft film. I
speculate that these new films will be based on the games of 2013 and 2015. Swedish actress, Alicia Vikander has been cast to play Lara in the upcoming 2018 film.
Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness 2003
Lara took a gaming hiatus for the best part of the early millennia. With a new system, there followed a new game and of course a new model of Lara. Her figure continued to remain unrealistic, but this was expected and her look was mainly inspired by her brand-spanking new movie. Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness was set immediately after Chronicles; Lara became a fugitive on the run after becoming a prime suspect in her mentor’s murder. The Angel of Darkness was praised for its storyline, graphics and music. On the other hand, the controls were shoddy, the combat was difficult and there were too many bugs that could ruin your game if you’re not a frequent saver. Ultimately, it turned out that Lara’s break from gaming was not time well spent.
There’s Lara’s first 7 years in gaming. Did we get the 7 year itch with Lara? Yes, we did but fortunately there’s plenty more to come up to bring us to 2016. In part two we’ll take a look at reinventions, another movie, actresses and the reinvention of Lara in games.