Dude, Where’s my Lara?

adam_head By: Adam

I have a very rocky relationship with a woman named Lara Croft. I’ve been a huge fan of the Tomb Raider franchise ever since I first entered the depths of those snowy caves high atop the mountains of Peru on my PS1 back in 1996. Over half my lifetime ago. Jesus. That’s depressing…

Anyway, I’ve followed Lara on all of her console adventures, and they all line my game shelves right now. Even Angel of Darkness (yuck). That’s how committed I am. But it’s not always easy being a fan of Tomb Raider. This franchise probably more than any other in video game history has seen such incredible highs and shocking lows. The Tomb Raider legacy is a muddy one, and it’s left me in a place where I’m not sure how to feel about where we’re at with Lara today.

I was recently reading an article in Game Informer magazine about the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider for Xbox One when it kind of hit me. I wasn’t really getting excited about anything that I was reading. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The easiest culprit to point to would of course be the controversial move to make Rise an XBOX holiday exclusive. But that doesn’t bother me too much. I know it’s going to reach the Playstation platform eventually and I can be patient. I wanted to know what exactly it was that was leaving me feeling underwhelmed. It was something that also hung over me during my play through of the revamped Tomb Raider that came out in 2013. The Tomb Raider that we have today is drastically different than the Tomb Raider that I’ve always loved. It’s both a good and a bad thing, and that’s really confusing.


When Tomb Raider came out in 2013 I loved it. I really did. It’s a fantastic game with great action, much improved controls, a great leveling system, and a plot that centers on a really cool and creepy Japanese legend. When I played through Tomb Raider I had a blast. But there was also a shadow that it never quite came out of either.

This new and younger Lara was not nearly as interesting or as fun as she’s been in the past. The sense of adventure and pulp action was replaced with blood, mud and grit. And worst of all… where the f*ck were the TOMBS?! Tomb Raider had changed just like Crystal Dynamics promised, and the game that was born from it really was a fantastic experience. But maybe it was a little too different.

I find myself really torn about this because how can something be both incredibly cool and a disappointment at the same time? Well, that’s Tomb Raider. TR went from a AAA action game at it’s inception, to a yearly churned out Assassin’s Creed/Call of Duty-style sequel factory, to a crummy reboot (AoD), to an AWESOME reboot (Legend), to a boring sequel (Underworld) to another reboot (TR 2013). It’s kind of exhausting.

I don’t blame Crystal Dynamics for needing to explode the franchise and do something totally different. I’m just not sure if I’ve fallen in love again like I was hoping to. I’m hoping this new sequel gets us a little closer to the feel of the old Tomb Raider, with the promise of more exploration, more globe-trotting, and a more thrill-seeking Lara. I’m not counting her down yet. After all, if she could survive a sh*t-fest like Angel of Darkness and come out alright, she can make it through anything.

This week’s speed painting comes from the PS2 series by Sucker Punch studios. Sly Cooper

slyDon’t forget to leave your request for the next speed painting in the comments below!

5 thoughts on “Dude, Where’s my Lara?

  1. As a long-time Tomb Raider fan (been there since the beginning) and someone who runs a TR fansite, I feel I should be more excited for Rise of the Tomb Raider than I actually am. While it was a good game in its own right, I didn’t really see the 2013 reboot as a “proper” Tomb Raider game and I’m not entirely sure that Rise won’t just be more of the same. Despite being constantly told that this new Lara is more human and more relatable, I honestly find it hard to warm up to her. Even the Lara from the Legend-Anniversary-Underworld trilogy had a certain charm and heart to her. Maybe I’m just not one for gritty reboots…

    I miss the good ol’ Core Design games. Thank God for Steam… ^_^

    1. I actually really loved Legend (& Anniversary). I felt it was the perfect way to reboot the series while still honoring what came before it.
      This new TR just doesn’t quite feel like it’s on the same track as the others.

      1. I really enjoyed Legend. The only things that let it down were that it was a bit too short and the motorbike sections were a little too long. But can’t fault the gameplay, locations, or general feel of the game. I know a lot of die-hard TR fans that rate Legend as one of their least favourites of the series but I honestly thought it was a great way to reboot the series.

  2. It says something when a change from all out action character to a more reasonable one somewhat detracts from the fun of the original character. Did she need to change? Well yes, however what and how much needed changing is pretty damn important.

    1. While a more mature approach is all well and good, I think perhaps they went a bit too dark and as you say, took some of the fun with it.
      There needs to be a little more balance going forward in my opinion.

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