Eidos recently unveiled the ‘new look’ Lara Croft, which was greeted with a mixed response in the gaming community. Some cried “WHERE ARE HER BIG TITS GONE?!!” while others said “Okay, we like where you’re going with this. You’ve got our attention.” I think I was somewhere in the latter camp.
My interest in the Tomb Raider Franchise dropped off around the time they made the move to the Playstation 2. The games had lost their way, moving from a ‘Tomb Raider’ to ‘Generic Action Girl’. “Run around the streets of Paris!” the press-release for Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness cried, “Chase across roofs!”, “Use stealth!”. Well, yes. That’s all well and good, but there are a hundred games out there, doing the running-shooting action and stealth thing a whole lot better than a game that was famously rushed by the publisher.
I first played Tomb Raider on the Saturn. One of the few advantages to owning a European Saturn (since we missed out on all the hundreds of fantastic 2D shoot-em-ups released in Japan) was the release of Tomb Raider a full six months before the Playstation version. And it was breathtaking. Even without a lot of the graphical lushness of other platforms, it was still jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Vast levels gave a fantastic feeling of space. The action was spot-on (even if the story wasn’t), and the music was unlike anything else in video games at the time.
The recent iterations have been either a diluted mix of the things that made the first game so magical or an unmitigated disaster stemming from the developers try to ’re-invent’ the ‘brand’. Ultimately, the original developers’ complete failure to do anything spectacular with the franchise led to the publisher (Eidos) yanking the game from them and giving the task of developing Tomb Raider 7 to Crystal Dynamics – previously known for Project Snowblind and uh.. uh.. The videogame of 102 Dalmations?
Thankfully Crystal Dynamics seem to understand what went wrong with recent Tomb Raider games and are bringing the franchise ‘back to its roots’ in Tomb Raider Legend by taking the focus off Lara and putting it back on the gameplay. So, Lara’s tits are smaller and the levels (looking suitable Tomb-y) are apparently huge and magnificent, and very reminiscent of the early games. And even more reassuringly, they have brought back the music from the original game (if the background music on tombraider.com is anything to go by).
She won’t be making the cover of The Face again (because the magazine is gone, but that’s beside the point), but there’s definitely still life in the old girl yet.