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E3 2012: Is the Rebooted Lara Croft the ‘Tomb Raider’ we Need?

Posted on June 4, 2012 AT 07:42pm

Tomb Raider has never been a cute game. From the very first Tomb Raider game we watched adventurer Lara Croft die horribly. In fact, it was the first game that introduced me to contextual death. We’ve seen Lara Croft fall to her death, be shot, drown, be impaled, and crushed.

It’s been a little while since there has been a full-fledged Tomb Raider game; 4 years since a 3rd person action-adventure game starring Lara was on current gen consoles. Lara has been rebooted, and the mood is much darker than any other Tomb Raider game in memory. In the latest trailer, Lara is hung upside down, sets her bindings on fire (at the risk of her own life), gets impaled in her side, and comes upon the corpse of a friend. That’s not even a minute in.

I would argue that even though Lara Croft has died in crazy ways throughout her digital life, it was something you might be able to chuckle at. Now we are venturing further into the uncanny valley, and seeing her go through these emotional lows in just this trailer has quite an impact. In just 4 years, there is a massive difference between her last game, Tomb Raider: Underworld , and this reboot. Originally, Lara Croft was a girl born to a wealthy family who became an orphan. Her new origin is closer to the origin of DC Comics’ Green Arrow: someone is stranded on a remote island and fights for survival while becoming an incredible fighter. Though I don’t think that Green Arrow has witnessed so many of his friends being kidnapped and threatened.

Lara has a lot of friends. How many will survive?

This cannot be mistaken for Uncharted. Sure, Lara is leaping from ledge to ledge, nearly falling to her death, but in between she is being bloodied up and threatened, fearing for her life. This Tomb Raider is more of a cross between Uncharted and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. There are elements of stealth and killing wildlife to eat in this game which separate this game even further from what we’ve known.

Way, way too close.

Is this the game Tomb Raider fans want, though? Do you want your hero to go through hell while you have your fun? Can you enjoy an action/adventure when horror has creeped in, ever so slightly? I think Lara Croft’s stories have been good on average, but she’s always been the blockbuster movie hero, who we know will be alright in the end. Now it looks like Crystal Dynamics is trying to forge a bond between gamers and Lara that doesn’t just involve a nice figure and dual wielded pistols.

Sexy and dangerous, all in one

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