Wednesday, 6 March 2013


She's back.

Lara Croft was conceived back in 1993 and emerged on the gaming scene wearing a green tank top, brown shorts, brown knee length boots and a pair of pistols tied down on the the thighs of her tanned long legs. With a long pigtail flying out from the back of her head she climbed and swung her way into action as she solved puzzles to find hidden artefacts in a global tour of architectural sites.

Tomb Raider changed the way that women were portrayed. The first genuine heroine of gaming that became a household name - and became the subject of 'serious' debate. In one respect she brought girl power to gaming in another (the feminist view) was that men were able to act out some sort sexual fantasy.

Over the years she has been developed, re-imagined and re-mastered. Eidos the original creator gave way to Core who actually 'killed' her off in 'Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation'. But was brought back to life by Square Enix with an Anniversary edition that re-created scenes from the past. This was followed by 'Legend' and 'Underworld'.

'Legend' gives more of the back story to Lara. Her mother is killed following a plane crash in the Himalayas leaving a young nine year old Lara fighting for her own survival. Rescued by her father who never leaves her side until he disappears in the wilds of Cambodia when she is fifteen.
The story picks up with Lara's search for the legendary sword of King Arthur - a story that continues into 'Underworld'.

During these games Lara Croft evolved. The tank tops and shorts remained but were of different colours. Camouflage trousers and evening gowns were added to a growing wardrobe.

The legend of Lara Croft has grown - publicity wise the actress Rhona Mitra and the model Nell McAndrew have given her a physical form. Shelley Blond was the first voice actress and Keeley Hawes voiced Lara in the last three games. While Angelina Jolie brought Lara to life on the big screen in two movies (a third is being planned).

Add to the statistics the Tomb Raider comics that ran for 50 editions and three novels - then Lara Croft: Tomb Raider has been an icon in many ways.

Now she is back.

The image has changed - a darker Lara Croft has emerged.

This is billed as a prequel to a time when Lara was 19 years old and had joined a party aboard the ship Endurance who are searching for the lost kingdom of the Yamatai. As the ships enters the notorious Devil's Triangle a freak storm occurs leaving Lara shipwrecked. Frightened and alone she must find other survivors and unravel the island's dark secrets.

The clean cut Ms Croft is replaced by someone closer to reality. She gets cut, bruised and dirty and has to learn new survival skills. But, then, this is a kid who survived the everything that the Himalayas could throw at her ten years before. But then she hadn't faced anything that was as life-threatening as another human being.

I like this re-imagining but that doesn't mean that others will - Lara Croft will always be the heroine who broke the mould and led the way for other heroines to emerge.

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