You'll 'Want To Protect' The New, Less Curvy Lara Croft

In the past, Lara Croft didn't need protecting. She was a fearless daredevil, a crack shot in short shorts with enough attitude to scare off a pack of bloodthirsty gorillas.

But in the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, things will be different. She hasn't become that woman yet. And executive producer Ron Rosenberg says you'll want to keep her safe.

"When people play Lara, they don't really project themselves into the character," Rosenberg told me at E3 last week when I asked if it was difficult to develop for a female protagonist.

"They're more like 'I want to protect her.' There's this sort of dynamic of 'I'm going to this adventure with her and trying to protect her.'"

So is she still the hero? I asked Rosenberg if we should expect to look at Lara a little bit differently than we have in the past.

"She's definitely the hero but — you're kind of like her helper," he said. "When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character."

The new Lara Croft isn't just less battle-hardened; she's less voluptuous. Gone are her ridiculous proportions and skimpy clothing. This Lara feels more human, more real. That's intentional, Rosenberg says.

You start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character.

"The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualized version of yesteryear," he said. "She literally goes from zero to hero... we're sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again."

In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft will suffer. Her best friend will be kidnapped. She'll get taken prisoner by island scavengers. And then, Rosenberg says, those scavengers will try to rape her.

"She is literally turned into a cornered animal," Rosenberg said. "It's a huge step in her evolution: she's forced to either fight back or die."

It's some dark material, the type of content you might not expect from an action-adventure game like Tomb Raider. But Rosenberg isn't worried about alarming people too much. He says players will see right away that this is a darker, "more mature" version of Lara's story. He compared it to the origin story of a comic book like Spider-Man or Batman, saying he thinks it "has that feel to it."

"We're not trying to be over the top, shock people for shock's sake," he said. "We're trying to tell a great origin story."


    I am so looking forward to this I have always been hum hum about the past lara's cept the first one loved that game.

    At least they can acknowledge the character of Lara was total garbage before. Hopefully with that mindset they can make this game awesome.

    My only concern is that from what I've seen, this is basically an action game now. I've always loved the searching for lost treasure and uncovering long lost curses aspect of these games. I don't want to see that go.

      If my memory's right, I remember the devs saying pretty much the same thing the last time the franchise rebooted, how their Lara is a brand new, strong heroine with no gimmicks. I still find it amusing they're admitting that the character has been sexualised and exploited into oblivion in past games.

    The more info I see on this game, the more ridiculous it all seems. I can't think of anything from this game I've seen so far that hasn't just been 'look at all this crap we're putting Lara through, she's so helpless and innocent etc etc'. Everything has been about her suffering. The E3 demo last year was basically five minutes of her screaming in pain and constantly getting hurt. And now there's going to be attempted rape?

    I get that it's a reboot, and that it's going to be a different Lara, but it's so wildly different from the Lara Croft in the last eight games or so. The Last Revelation did an origin story for her at its beginning: she was with her mentor in Egypt, and she was capable and confident enough to survive there. I liked that story, she was different enough to show she was young and I could see how she would develop into the adult Lara we already knew.

    But I can't see that happening with this reboot, unless the new adult Lara is going to be wildly different. I simply can't connect 'screaming, constantly tortured young Lara' with 'confident, thug-killing, animal-slaughterer, tomb raiding adult Lara'. And I'm absolutely sick of every detail about this new game focusing on how utterly helpless she is. I simply don't see the fun in guiding this new Lara throughout an entire game, if all it's going to be is one unfortunate mishap after another.

      I think they kinda need to go in this direction. They spent the last decade turning Lara into a porn star. That's not the kind of thing you can undo with subtlety or grace.

        Surely there's a much better way to make her more human than constantly torturing her all game, though. There's a point where you just want to say 'enough already'. Unfortunately, I've hit that point before the game's even come out.

          To me it's adapting to more of a survival horror game. I like that idea because I like the genre, so obviously people who don't won't like this. What I agree with most though is the over actiony bits like the crashing plane - I preferred the first look at the game that was more focussed on survival horror and less on run away from lots of explosions action :/

            Exactly. I think people like how they've DESCRIBED the game but the game contradicts itself with what it's shown us. It's billed as this realistic, grounded survival story and yet you see her sliding down a mountain with destroyed 747 parts chasing after her (the ADR for these bits aren't very good either), or the way she almost casually stabs a baddie from under his jaw like she's some sort of COD baddass, even though she's not supposed to have killed that many people before.

            It feels to me like the devs thought they had to go from "zero to hero" without actually fleshing out the journey in a proper slow burn way that feels realistic, cranking everything she encounters to 11 . But it could also be true that they felt like they had to bring more actiony moments to E3. We'll see.

    I think I'm now actually really worried about this game and its slightly bizarre politics...

      I think any Tomb Raider game released in this current generation of games will be burdened by those politics, Doctor. Even if they remade the original faithfully, and only changes the look of the game and of Lara Croft, it would still run into that old chestnut of 'How are women portrayed in video games?' Tomb Raider games will always attract this more than other games with female characters since the politics of it is so tied up with the popular culture around the game.

      TL:DR - You can't have Tomb Raider without politics.

    The negativity with this game is pretty confusing. I get that the developers haven't been as subtle with the development as they could have been had they treated her origin story differently, but this is the direction they chose, and in doing so I think they are coming at it with a pretty good mindset of developing what is essentially an action character and an action game into something with a little more thought and depth. Haven't people wanted this for years? It might not be doing the best job at it, but it's doing a hell of a lot better than most games.

      It's something I've noticed a bit recently with a lot of games. It seems to be based around a sense of entitlement that some gamers feel they have. Like they've invested time and money playing the previous games in the franchise, so they're entitled to demand certain things of the new game. I can't really explain it, as I don't really understand the whole thing. How can a player feel entitled to have a say in it when they aren't the one making the game? Why does that sense of entitlement lead them to expressing some really negative opinions of the game even before it's release? I don't get it.

      If they really want to make this work, they should be doing it with a new IP. Using the Tomb Raider name brings a lot of baggage and years of lacklustre games. Sure, it'll give them more attention but they could always market it as Tomb Raider done right (which is basically Uncharted) instead of the rebooted Tomb Raider.

      I want to stress that I was pretty interested in this game when they first announced it. Hesitant, because I'm an old fan of the series, but curious to see where they'd take it. And the first details sounded pretty solid. Survival horror seemed like a good direction for the series. And I completely understand that, as a young and inexperienced character, this new Lara was going to get hurt but overcome things with building determination. It sounded cool.

      My problem is that there seems to be absolutely no subtlety to this, and the developers are just heaping problem after problem on top of a pile. It's not just the characters she interacts with, the environment seems to be out to kill her at every moment. Like 'oh good I got away from that scary looking tribal guy because a boulder fell on him, I'll just walk away and OH GOD THE FLOOR IS COLLAPSING BETTER START SCREAMING AGAIN'. Sure, that kind of stuff happens a lot in, say, Uncharted, but this feels so different. If they downplayed it a little (or a lot), this supposed attempted rape scene would arguably be so much more effective in hopefully maturing the character. But right now all the footage is things like 'look, Lara's hanging suspended from the ceiling. Now she's been kidnapped. Now she's been stabbed or broken some bones or something. Now she's falling. Now she's in a rushing river. She's so helpless.'

      The developers are saying here that this is going to make the player want to protect her. But I'm not getting that feeling at all. They're suggesting this really weird connection between player and character and I just don't understand it.

      Ah, I'm sorry if I'm rambling here. :p

        Nah I see where youre coming from. I'd like to say that this would be a marketing angle, and the game would have more to it than a constant string of these scenes, but it is a bit disapointing it has been marketed that way.

          That's what I'm hoping, it's all action for the trailers but maybe there's more to it than that, more substance that ties it to the older games and their play style.

    I'm keen to see if the developers can make me care about a Tomb Raider game again. The last one was the first though. ;)

    Plus I think new Lara is much hotter anyway, much more realistic and in proportion. :)

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    “She’s definitely the hero but — you’re kind of like her helper,” he said. “When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character.”

    That seems sort of... sexist.

      In some sense, I agree with you. But in recent years, I've come to understand that there are natural impulses in a man that impel and compel him to protect women. It's just biology. Of course, such an impulse naturally puts a woman in a 'vulnerable' or 'needing to be saved' position in his mind, which of course is far from the truth in most/many instances.

      I think that - although they are being less than subtle about it - the devs are merely trying to tap into that feeling.

        I agree but also think that maybe they are trying to give the character more of a sense of independence in some way? Not being sexist by saying that a woman can't do what Lara's doing on her own and has to be controlled by a player, but saying that she is capable and we are helping, not dominating. Maybe?

          I get what you're saying, but basing your game around that seems to be a surefire way of limiting the audience.


        I laughed at that more than I should have, thank you.

        glad I'm not the only one that picked that up.

    It has to be more about character building. You can't humanize or create an empathetic character just by shovelling them from one potential death screen to the next.

      The Hangover proved this.
      Terrible movie.

      Honestly this is where I think the game will most likely fail.

    "It’s just biology" - Shane

    It's a socially instilled mentality that women are weak and need protecting, and this game looks like it's going magnify that.

    Its one thing trying to sound like you're doing the industry some good by saying your getting rid of the 'sexualised' stereotype that Lara has been over the past however many years.. but in a bizarre flip developers promote another socially instilled mentality that plagues gender politics, and completely disempowers Lara. Takes everything away from what initialy characterised her, then puts her in a rape scenario?? WTF?

    I dont think i personally would have too much of an issue with this, if it wasn't done to such an iconic previously powerful female game icon. Sure she has been sexualised in the past, but thats a common trend, and is such an obvious ploy that these days that we have our guards up about. But taking such a prominent female character, and telling your male audience that females are pathetic, need nurturing, are scared cornered animals, and are nothing without a male influence (yes, game is obviously aimed at the male market) is less than great.

    Female gamers will get frustrated by her, and male gamers that enjoy it will love the dominance they feel from saving such a pathetic Lara Croft.

    "She hasn’t become that woman yet."
    Yes, her smaller breasts show that.

      Grass on that wicket yous reckon?

        well lets be honest... even if there wasnt...

    Lara Croft... meet Nathan Drake... anyone who does see it is an idiot.

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    Will she punch a shark?

    Great, next will we have Duke Nukeum as a spotty little teenager getting bullied, or James Bond as a toddler down a well or something?
    This isn't Lara Croft or tombraider.

    Whys she wearing makeup then?

    i realise that the older lara croft incarnations have been sneered at to oblivion, with people saying she's been hypersexualised and turned into a pornstar and whatnot, but i've gotten a totally different view of her. as a young girl, i loved lara because she was impossibly awesome: like a female chuck norris. she could jump from ten metres and get little HP damage, she could do standing 3m backflips and sideflips, she could hold her breath underwater for about 2 minutes, she knew first aid, she could outsmart every booby trap, she could handle every type of gun in existence, kill the bad guys and scary monsters, and get the weird cosmic artifact. not to mention, she was smart, pretty, always kept her cool, had travelled the world, and had a huge house with a creepy butler and her own obstacle course in her backyard. i thought she was the coolest person ever and i wanted to be like her when i was nine or ten. i even spent time trying to imitate her athletic abilities. everyone seemed to focus on her huge boobs, though. i was always like, well of course, she can do impossible feats of athleticism with impractically huge boobs. she's lara croft. you ever seen those shitty jrpg character costume designs? those aren't practical either. they're just eye candy. but whatever. that was what 10-year-old me thought.

    this new reboot in my mind is totally stupid. in other origin stories, she was sixteen and still had a strong, and fearless attitude with the right amount of snark. she had a whole tonne of curiosity about ancient cultural artifacts and ruins. i don't need to justify lara's strength and badassery with an attempted rape story or some stint on an island where she spent half the time screaming about some new awful thing happening to her. i don't want to "protect" her. i don't want to see my female chuck norris be reduced to a flailer and wailer. i never get to see any impossibly awesome female game characters that defy physics and logic. also, since when did "making her more real" involve humiliating and subjugating her constantly with torturous crap and making her seem about a competent as a headless chicken?

    anyway, you don't have to agree with me, obviously, but this is my genuine feels. thanks for listening.

    We cant have a sexism argument with out Solid Snake! He is on machi sob He revs my metal gear and im heterosexual! Sorry totally irelevent, just wanted to lighten the mood :)

    Soz typo "one macho s.o.b "*

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