The team at Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have worked hard to reboot the Tomb Raider franchise and to present Lara Croft in a new light, beyond what the character was in the past. In the past the character was a kickass wonderchick with huge breasts and oozing with sex appeal. It sold a lot of copies of the earlier games, but as time moved on the series began to wane a bit and interest dropped. The reboot of the series was looking to take a more mature, worldly look at the female lead protagonist of Lara Croft and have her come across as more than a pair of boobs with some guns.
This isn’t to say that Lara Croft had no value in earlier games, because she did, but as time wore on it became apparent that the character was intended to be eye candy to help move along a plot in a game and nothing more. Last week’s launch of Tomb Raider saw Crystal Dynamics put it all on the line with their new and improved Lara Croft, with critics already fawning over the series reboot and calling it a return to form.
The reboot of the series has even caught the eye of some of the mainstream media, with Forbes running this piece on how Lara Croft has evolved, even with fears of the character being a bane to women everywhere. The piece talks about how the developers have actually gone out of their way to empower the Lara Croft character after years of her being a “barbie with guns.” There were some real serious fears early on when there was talk of a possible rape scene in the game, with Lara being a victim, but those fears proved to be unfounded with the release of the game.
What seems to be a big selling point for the game, still, though, is that Lara Croft is a woman and no matter what, women have a long way to go in the boys’ club that is gaming. Male fans will still be picking up the game because it features an attractive female lead character who even if she isn’t busting out of her clothing anymore, she is still not exactly dressed for battle like you’d imagine a male character would be in a game like this. You really do have to tip your hat at Crystal Dynamics, though, as they have worked hard to reform Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider series to make it something much more serious and realistic.
It will take more games and more time, though, before we can see any real change in attitude towards women in games. Lara Croft is not a damsel in distress and we’ve moved beyond the days of porn companies making Tomb Raider knock-offs, hopefully, but without a doubt there is still some 13-year old boy who will pick this game up because of something he read online about a possible nipple slip or will use the camera to zoom in on certain places. Tomb Raider proves that we’ve come a long way, but still have a ways to go before women will be seen as equals in games.