Crystal Dynamics successfully reinvented the venerable Tomb Raider series in the eponymous reboot released earlier this month, showcasing Lara Croft’s transition from eager archaeologist to hardened survivalist. It’s a defining piece of characterization, and one that in my humble opinion depicts one of the strongest female leads in a videogame to date. Unlike the pixelated, busty manifestation of Lara we’ve become accustomed to in the previous games, this Miss Croft is someone you can really appreciate on more than a superficial scale. As a female protagonist, she eschews the sexualized trappings of her contemporaries – and indeed, her previous incarnations – resulting in a heroine that is defined not by her physical attributes, but rather her strength and emotional qualities. This is a new Lara, for a new generation.
Here’s 3 of Lara’s most defining moments from Tomb Raider. Beware, this article contains spoilers for those who haven’t finished the game.
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Lara goes it alone
Shipwrecked and separated from her crewmates, Lara awakens hanging upside down in a dimly-lit cave, disoriented and terrified. After cunningly using a nearby flame to free herself, an injured Miss Croft wades through a network of tunnels filled with corpses and strange ritualistic alters, before surviving a cave-in and finally escaping the catacombs. Cold, hungry and physically exhausted, Lara manages to get a primitive fire going and rustle up some grub thanks to a bow and arrow she happens across. Battered and bruised from her horrific introduction to the Island, our heroine realizes from here on out that she’s alone and must fight for survival; a far cry from the cosy, bookish life she once enjoyed back in civilization.
The first kill
Controversy aside, the moment when Lara takes a human’s life for the first time is a defining chapter in her fight for survival. After surreptitiously avoiding a small army of heavily-armed goons and taking shelter in a small alcove, Croft is spotted by one of the gun men and dragged out of her temporary sanctuary. Here, after displaying some rather amorous intentions towards the 21-year-old adventurer, Lara boots him in the crown jewels and a struggle ensues. After her assailant brandishes a firearm, Croft fights tooth-and-nail for her life and the weapon goes off, blowing the goon’s brains out. But this isn’t just another nonchalant game shooting; Lara is visible shaken by what she has done, and spends the next minute or so nearly vomiting her guts out. Unlike most game heroes, who seem to show no compunction in taking a human life, Lara exhibits a sense of realism that is rarely depicted in this medium. It shapes her from here on out, as she now fully realizes the gravity of the situation, and more importantly, just what she has to do to make it through. An innocence is lost from here on out; it’s just a shame the combat sequences all but throw these ideals out the window, but it can be overlooked.
The climax of Tomb Raider brings Lara’s development as a character to a full 180 from where she started out. With the life of her mate Sam in the balance, and big baddie Mathias still at large, Croft battles through hordes of armed mercenaries and faces off with her enemy at the top of a snow-swept mountain temple. I won’t go into fine detail in case I spoil the scene too much (although if you haven’t seen it, why are you reading this?), but suffice to say, it ends with Lara whipping out those iconic double pistols, before dispatching her adversary in a flurry of bullets sending him toppling into the abyss below. In this very instance, a survivor is born; this is the Lara Croft that will take our heroine on all manner of adventures in the years to come, and more importantly, shape her into one of the defining female characters in videogame history.
How do you feel about Lara Croft’s rebirth? What do you feel are her defining moments from Tomb Raider? Sound off in the comments section below.