The Evolution of Lara Croft

Maybe it’s the feminist in me, but I’ve always had a soft spot for strong female protagonists. (So much, in fact, that I wrote a top 20 list a few weeks back).

And of course, I’ve always been a Tomb Raider fan. And despite her generous physique and odd occasional contortionist movement, Lara Croft is actually a pretty cool character. She’s smart, she’s calculated, and she’s brave enough to wander into tombs and caves on her own. Plus, girl knows her way around a gun, and isn’t afraid to pump a few bullets into enemies when necessary.

So, when a new Tomb Raider game was announced by developer Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix, I was pretty interested. It’s been a while since we caught up with the adventurer, and a new installment in her franchise is nothing if not welcome to this observer.

Enter the teaser trailer released by the team last year.

Lara Croft is back, but she isn’t the same woman we’re used to. The game takes place at the beginning of her career, before she has even set foot in an old tomb.

She’s around 20 years old, and she’s caught in the same place as many young post-grads; she’s out to make a name for herself and see the world.

Suddenly fate strikes, and Lara finds herself marooned alone on an island after surviving a shipwreck.

Cut to the new pre-E3 gameplay trailer released this week, where we see new footage and get more clues as to what the game will entail.

It begins with Lara suspended in air, caught in a cocoon-type binding. She works herself free, falling to the ground and landing on a sharp bone. From there she works to escape, finding herself on an island with fellow shipmates and escaping from hostiles.

Of course, the same conventions that made Tomb Raider so great are still present here; we see bits of platforming, combat, and exploration. But it’s hard to deny that this game is a very dramatic departure from what the Tomb Radier series, making it more of a re-imagining than reboot.

While Lara was a cool character before,this trailer proves that we will get a deeper look into who she is and what makes her tick. There’s a depth here that we haven’t seen that reveals an entirely new side of Lara Croft. She isn’t the calculated, cold action hero we’re used to; she’s young, she’s inexperienced, and she’s scared. But she’s able to reconcile this and still press forward, calling on a strong will to live to carry her through. In this reveal, we see that Lara Croft is not a one-dimensional

Voice over throughout the trailer reveals that Lara once had doubts about the person she would become, maybe even feelings of inadequacy she might have had, all while facing off against an attacker and firing a gun into his face.
The most striking image in the trailer is the aftermath, where we see Lara gasping for air and covered in her attacker’s blood.

On top of her redefined character development, we also see hints that the new game will be completely different from the  originals in the series. We get hints of cover-based shooting, tough platforming, exploration, and close-quarters combat, topped off with an overall realistic and gritty feel to Lara’s new world.

But the most interesting part of it all is that this game appears to be more based on survival than actual raids or missions. We see Lara hunt, see her escape from enemies, see her struggle to simply survive on this island she’s been marooned on. There have been rumors before that the new game will be in an open-world style format, making me wonder if this game won’t feel more like Lost than Indiana Jones.

Putting it lightly, I’m more than excited to get my hands on this game. With a survivalist twist, new platforming, and a fascinating approach to Lara’s character development, the game’s hopeful release date of March 5, 2013 simply cannot come soon enough.