Back in the Christmas of 1997 the gift I wanted the most was Tomb Raider for my PC. After playing it at a friends house one time I absolutely fell in love with the character, the concept, the whole damn package. For a few years Tomb Raider was one of my favorite things. I played the games, I bought an action figure or two of Lara Croft, I read the comic book that Top Cow was publishing (even buying alternate covers for the issues), and was there opening day when the Angelina Jolie film adaptation premiered.
Eventually though I fell away from Tomb Raider. I played some of the second and third games, but never owned them. For budget reasons I was very limited into what games I could actually buy in my teen years. But then came word of the reboot, and I got pretty damn excited. The more I would learn about it however the less excited I would get. Because what we finally got was not what I hoped for at all.
Gone was the fun, sexy, confident adventurer I remembered. Gone was the the over the top pulp fun. In its place was something more “realistic”, grim, and gritty. A soulless, joyless, and dreary tone, all too common in AAA games had replaced what I loved about the franchise. And just to hammer home how serious and “mature” this new version was we made sure to tone down Lara’s, shall we say, assets, making Lara much more Plain Jane than before. I didn’t play much of the rebooted Tomb Raider because I just couldn’t be bothered to invest that much time into something that so misses the point of something I love. I’ve watched a lot of Let’s Plays and reviews and it seems like a decent game. But what it is not, is a good Tomb Raider game.
The boob issue
We can’t have Lara looking hot, that’s misogyny or something. Feminists and SJW’s love to attack games—even if they feature strong, capable, independent women they claim to want to see—as long as those women are attractive. Indie game developer Jennifer D’aww recently pointed out on Twitter that, for all the claim of supporting women, feminists sure to love to shame any woman with large breasts. Then Shoe0nHead had a brilliant response as to why they do that.
But…but wasn’t Lara objectified?
No she was not. In the games, the comic book, and even the live action movies Lara was not a sex object at all. She was no where near the “fighting fuckdoll” or whatever other nonsense feminists want to make up. She was flirty without being slutty. She was stoic without being frigid. And she was strong and independent without constantly having to remind us of that fact. She was just a woman who loved to go on adventures, find treasure, and occasionally fight monsters.
The most I would be willing to grant is some of the original advertisements for the first Tomb Raider game could have been considered objectifying. But only if you have no sense of humor and couldn’t tell the obvious tongue in cheek tone they were going for.
Why so serious?
But there is another reason I think Tomb Raider had all the fun sucked out of it. Beyond feminist pressure, there is a need in AAA developers to make everything a dull, brown and grey “serious” game. With the exception of companies like Nintendo, it seems many game makers are so tired of having video games considered “kid’s stuff” they are desperate to prove just how “mature” they can be. Forgetting that the truly mature need not constantly prove it.
Thankfully this trend is receding in the last couple years, and fun and wacky games like Sunset Overdrive are becoming more and more common. But I still see a AAA landscape plagued by generic shooters with beautiful graphics but no flare or soul like Destiny.
A lot of people seem to love this new Tomb Raider. But I just can’t get into it. Maybe the new series will actually remember to put some fun in future games. But until that time I’ll always remember Lara Croft as the big boobed gun toting adventurer in bright blue/green top and khaki shorty shorts. In other words, the fun Lara.