A Brief History of Lara Croft and Tomb Raider

A Brief History of Lara Croft and Tomb Raider

Lara Croft is one of the most famous video game heroines of all time, and Tomb Raider one of the best-selling video game series, having sold 58 million copies worldwide. The video game series has certainly had its up’s and down’s, but is still going strong with the release of the 12th official Tomb Raider game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, in September of this year. The game has also had various spin-offs, such as Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris and Lara Croft GO, for example. Still, up until today, 22 years after the release of the first Tomb Raider game in 1996, Lara Croft remains one of gaming’s favorite heroines. Before we get to see the full Shadow of the Tomb Raider reveal this Friday, here is a brief history of where Lara Croft has come from, where she is now, and what we can expect from her in the future.

In 1996, Toby Gard created what would become one of the most popular female characters in gaming, and one of the first of her kind, Laura Cruz. Laura Cruz, who was initially a South American character, had her name changed to Lara Croft in order to be more “UK friendly” and reflect a British origin. Toby Gard created Lara Croft to confront negative stereotypes of female gaming characters, who were either been portrayed as damsels-in-distress, old ladies, or evil seductresses. Toby Gard comments: “Lara was designed to be a tough, self-reliant intelligent woman. She confounds all the sexist cliches apart from the fact that she’s got an unbelievable figure”.

tomb raider I box art

After the creation of the classic Tomb Raider 1, though, Toby Gard left Eidos, as he felt that he had a lack of creative freedom in successive Tomb Raider games. For 4 years after that, a new Tomb Raider game released every year, and in these formative years, Lara Croft’s popularity continued to grow. In 2018, Lara Croft had appeared on more than 1,000 magazine covers, making her more famous than any supermodel in the world, and she has even been in various advertisements and in three feature films. Up until today, Lara Croft still boasts a huge fan base of gamers and cosplayers.

In 2003, with the release of Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, the series went through a serious dip, as many fans and critics disliked the way that Angel of Darkness was so vastly different from previous Tomb Raider games. After the release of Angel of Darkness, there was no sight of a Tomb Raider game for 3 years, until Crystal Dynamics took over in 2006 and “saved” Lara with the release of Tomb Raider Legend. This marked the beginning of what some would feel was Lara Croft’s golden age, with classics such as Tomb Raider: Anniversary and Tomb Raider: Underworld released one year after another.

tomb_raider_underworld_lara_croft-t2

After Tomb Raider: Underworld was released in 2008, there was no indication of a new Tomb Raider game for about 5 years. Finally, in 2013, Square Enix took over publishing duties for the Tomb Raider franchise and Crystal Dynamics rebooted Tomb Raider to create a Lara Croft that was entirely different. For the first time, Lara Croft was given a concrete origin story and it was written by a female writer, Rihanna Pratchett. In the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, Lara’s looks have also changed, Lara is vulnerable and scared, and Lara even seems to have developed some sense of moral responsibility.

In the Tomb Raider reboot, Lara Croft’s weapons also change from her iconic twin pistols to a bow and arrows, a pick-axe, one pistol, and a machine gun, and Lara’s outfits are more tactical than cosmetic. Fans seemed to enjoy this Lara Croft a lot and so in 2015, Square Enix released the follow-up to Lara Croft’s origin story, Rise of the Tomb Raider, which shows Croft’s growth after her terrible ordeal on Yamatai in the 2013 reboot. Finally, in 2018, Square Enix will release another Tomb Raider game called Shadow of the Tomb Raider and it is said to be “Lara Croft’s defining moment as she becomes the Tomb Raider.”

shadow of the tomb raider reveal

We only know a few things about Shadow of the Tomb Raider though. A teaser image from Shadow of the Tomb Raider revealed that Lara Croft might have a knife as an additional weapon in the new game and the teaser trailer also showed hints of new locations that Lara will visit. The full trailer reveal of Shadow of the Tomb Raider will take place this week (Friday on April 27th) and the game will be released on September 14th, according to Square Enix. Fans are excited to see which locations Lara will visit in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and how this game will show how she finally turns into the Lara Croft that they have known and loved all these years.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider releases September 14, 2018 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.


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