Reflecting-on-the-Life-of-a-Tomb-Raider Reflecting on the Life of a Tomb Raider

   12/02/2018 at 22:07       Richard Horne       1 COMMENTS.
 - Tomb Raider, Lara Croft

Few gaming characters are as recognisable as Lara Croft. Since her debut in 1996, the star of the Tomb Raider series has been regarded as a worldwide sensation. On top of that, this year looks set to be another big one for the franchise, with a new film based on the 2013 reboot starring Alicia Vikander coming in March and the latest game in the series, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, planned for release later in the year. With all this on the horizon, now seems as good a time as any to look back on this series and appreciate just how far Lady Croft has come.

The story behind Lara’s creation began with Toby Gard, a character designer who at the time was working as part of Core Design, a six-man games studio in Derby. Gard is generally regarded as the main creative mind behind the Tomb Raider franchise, being one of those most closely involved in the first game’s development. His decision for the character to be a woman was made early on, partially to avoid making a derivative of Indiana Jones. However, she was originally conceived as part of a duo of playable characters, before this idea was scrapped. From there, Laura Cruz, as she was then known, underwent a great deal of development and revisions before she took the form we are most familiar with today.

The first Tomb Raider was a critical and commercial smash hit, selling over seven million copies. It also went on to become one of the most influential games of all time, serving as a template for 3D action adventure games that many others would later follow. Eager to capitalise on this success, publisher Eidos Interactive quickly put Core Design to work on a follow-up and before long, there was a new game released every year. It was also around this time that Lady Croft hit the big screen – Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, starring Angelina Jolie, came to cinemas in 2001, with a sequel, The Cradle of Life, following two years later.

Sadly, this period of prosperity came to an end in 2003. Following a troubled development, the seventh game, Angel of Darkness, was met with a poor reception from both fans and critics and this, coupled with the financial failure of the second film, led to the franchise being taken out of Core Design’s hands.

The series was passed to California studio Crystal Dynamics, who, along with a returning Toby Gard, set about working on revitalising the franchise. The result was Tomb Raider: Legend, which is widely regarded as a return to form for Lady Croft, which many systems refined and redesigned for a better experience. This was followed by an updated remake of the first game, Anniversary, created to celebrate the franchise’s tenth birthday. The year after, Lara also made her HD debut in Tomb Raider: Underworld, which also wrapped up many of the ongoing plot threads. After that, however, publisher Eidos Interactive was bought by Square Enix, and aside from a few spinoffs, it would be another four years before the world saw another Tomb Raider game.

 Source: Tomb Raider via Facebook 

The next addition to the franchise was a reboot, intending to explore the origin of the series’ protagonist. Developed with the intention of making Lara a more human character, this new iteration was far more grounded and brutal than before, with a new emphasis on survival. It also significantly toned down her sex appeal, which had been a controversial aspect of the character since the beginning. Fans and critics loved the new direction, earning the title critical acclaim and 11 million sales, making it the best-selling Tomb Raider game to date. A sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, followed two years later, albeit with some controversy because of its timed exclusivity to the Xbox One. This brings us to the here and now, where we have a new film based on the reboot on the horizon and yet another sequel currently in the works.

Of course, none of this would have been possible if the game didn’t sell. Collectively, the Tomb Raider game have sold over 58 million copies worldwide, earning it a place among the best-selling video game franchises. Meanwhile, Lara herself has received multiple accolades over the years, among them a place on the Walk of Game and the Guinness Book of World Records. This is to say nothing of the various spinoff material and merchandise, including the two Jolie films, various tie-in novels and comics, and even casino games, like the one available through many of the casinos reviewed by Oddschecker.

However, looking at it all, one cannot help but wonder where the series will go from here. There will be more games, of course – Shadow of the Tomb Raider is already coming and the series is too popular for it to end anytime soon – and if the new film is a success, there will probably be more of those as well.

Even then, the question remains: what does the future of Lara Croft look like? After all, you can only tell the story of how Lara became the titular Tomb Raider for so long before she actually becomes that person, and given the tone the new games have been going for, it is hard to imagine she will be the same person she was before. However, given the way things have been going so far, it is safe to say that Lady Croft is in good hands.

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