Lara Croft, our favorite British born archaeologist, has been raiding tombs for nearly twenty years now. What started as series known for exploration, starring a sexy but hollow lead, has transformed into something much deeper and more grounded.
With the release of her best adventure yet, Rise of the Tomb Raider, here are the six things that helped Lara evolve into of one of the industry’s best characters of all time.
Fighting for Survival
The Croft of the nineties was a two pistol packin’ gal who occasionally used a shotgun as well. In 2013, the reboot Tomb Raider ditched the over-sized silver semi-automatics seen in the Angelina Jolie films in favor of a more practical bow and arrow. It became her signature weapon. Like the District 12 winner of the 74th Hunger Games, Lara first took aim hunting for food. Eventually, she became an archery expert taking down heavily armed killers.
Having an Entourage
Like billionaire Bruce Wayne, Lara is an orphan. Not much is known about her mum, but dear old dad was an explorer whose death remains a mystery. And that was pretty much it pre-reboot. Now, Lara has her buddy Jonah, her late father’s girlfriend Anna, and her BFF, Sam, who shines in the prequel novel Tomb Raider: Ten Thousand Immortals. We all love those solo moments with Lara discovering an ancient ruin, but having a core group of friends helps immensely. She’s not just the player’s stand-in or eye-candy, she’s a character with as many internal struggles as external.
Or course, getting to know a more relatable Lara wouldn’t be possible without…
Performing with the Best
Camilla Luddington has set the bar so high for a performance in a video game that even Nolan North’s portrayal as fellow adventurer Nathan Drake is given a run for its money. What makes Luddington’s Lara resonate is her sense of earnestness and the confidence to keep moving forward, no matter what. The first game with Luddington playing the soon-to-be-tomb-raider was primarily focused on having the courage to survive an impossible situation. Rise built on that with Lara’s laser focused (some might say obsessive) determination to prove her father’s legacy. Crystal Dynamics, please keep Luddington as Lara for as long as the actress wishes to keep playing her.
Wearing Sensible Outfits (Finally)
The short shorts have left the tomb. In fact, having Rise take place primarily in the snow covered Russian landscape helps get Lara out of those sex-object tank tops and into clothes that make sense for the environment. There are still different wardrobe selections, but a bikini option is not one of them.
Understanding the Past
The latest adventure introduces a skill set by way of language. Unfortunately, the player won’t actually learn Greek, but the more Lara uncovers, the more she is able to make sense of scrolls and other ancient markers. It’s essentially an easy leveling up feature, but hey, Constantinople history lesson… unlocked!
Keeping That Sense of Awe
The level of action (by that we mean fun, addictive combat moments) are never the sole reason to play a Tomb Raider game. Rise offers at least a dozen caves and other ruins to be discovered when Lara is ready. (More than twice what Tomb Raider offered.) A lost city, a cistern, even an impossibly intricate giant clock; all of it still fills the Lara Croft in all of us with pure wonder.
As Lara Croft keeps evolving as a character, we can’t wait to see where the next adventure takes her (and us).
Already begun a second playthrough of Rise of the Tomb Raider? Are there aspects of Lara Croft that still need to change? Sound off in the comments!
All Images: Crystal Dynamics.