Gamers Rejoice! A Strong Heroine!
The time is nearing for the release of the tenth Tomb Raider, which for the first time offers up a new take on the franchise. Developed by Crystal Dynamics and brought to you by Square Enix the newest Tomb Raider is a gritty reboot of Lara Croft, focusing on the origins of the young tomb raider rather than the older, more experienced bad ass she has become. After seeing the E3 demos and game play, March 5th, 2013 cannot come soon enough. The entire female gaming world — no, the entire gaming world — should rejoice in a strong, believable Croft and the possibility of changing how female characters are portrayed in video games going forward.
Sailing aboard the Endurance, a salvage vessel helmed by Captain Conrad Roth, Croft embarks on her first tomb raiding journey, fresh from "academy", and in search of lost relics. She travels to an island off the coast of Japan, anchoring at bay, the ship torn in two by an unforeseen storm leaving Lara separated from any other survivors and washed ashore. Alone and without food, water or supplies, Croft must endure physical and emotional torture in order to survive the island and the scavengers on it.
I could not be happier with how Crystal Dynamics handled Croft's character. I love the franchise and feel for the first time, as they have made Lara strong and real. Landing on the island with nothing, Croft needs to build a skill set; we watch her succeed using brains, physical endurance, and interpersonal relationships. She is no longer the highly sexualized creature she once was, and you feel a need to help drive her survival. Darrell Gallagher, studio head of Crystal Dynamics said it best,"You watch her go from zero to hero." With each event, whether hunting for food or surviving scavenger camps, you help Lara grow, increasing her chances of making it off the island.
The game offers emotional and character development as Croft learns to deal with the horrors on the island, for which she may not be ready. When she finally gains the weapons and the skills to kill an animal for her own survival, she apologizes, showing real remorse. Her first human kill has already stirred up controversy, although I see it differently. This attempted rape scene is not a cheap way to make use of this violent act as titillation for gamers; it intends to show a darker side of humanity. In the context of the game, you honestly believe this is how a man could act towards Croft, and she doesn't allow it. She kills this man, shouting to the world I am strong and will not be a second class human. Early in game play, Croft must survive a wolf attack, and the later attempted rape scene is an extension of her self-preservation — an extension of her emotional development as she deals with this island. You become deeply invested in Lara; and her survival and growth becomes your survival and growth.Continued on the next page