Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Lara Croft & Me



We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us — the labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.
 - Joseph Campbell, The Hero with A Thousand Faces

So you might've noticed I'd been talking about Lara Croft recently, in mostly very harsh tones about the sexualisation and agency of her character following Crystal Dynamics' newest reboot. The game's been released, and reviews have been spectacular across the board: even more critical ones like Ellie Gibson's give it a good score. Evidently it succeeded in every way it needed to - gameplay, production values, and crucially, story and character. Sounds like a solid title all the way.

So why am I still not going to buy it?

It's... complicated.


Sure, give me an adventure and I'll ride it
 - Melissa Auf der Maur

It's difficult for me to nail down why even despite the great reviews, I feel somewhat sad. Then I realised that many of the reviews have a variant on this refrain: Lara Croft is Dead. Long Live Lara Croft. This is the title of Becky Chambers' review, and it was remarkably positive. Many of my fears were mitigated, as the horrendous plot elements that caused an uproar prove to have been grossly misrepresented in promotional material, and the whole "you'll want to protect ickle Lara" perspective is in fact another perfect example of PR being numpties. But Becky's review was important, because she was a Tomb Raider fan from the beginning:

"I was eleven years old when my grandma handed me the PlayStation she’d won in a raffle. It came with two games — some sports game I never played, and Tomb Raider, which I devoured. I had been raised on point-and-clicks and early ‘90s edutainment games. None of those had thrown snarling wolves and fast-moving death traps at me, or punished my mistakes with the sound of crunching bones. No game had given me such a visceral sense of adventure and danger. And no story I had seen —  movies, books, or otherwise — had ever told me that a woman was allowed to be cast in such a role. She was Indiana Jones, but witty, measured, sophisticated. She shot first and asked questions later. She screamed only when seconds from death. She never, ever needed saving.

She could do anything."

Reached right in my mind and pulled out 12-year-old Aly (except for the latter part about women "not being allowed" in such a role, since I had already seen Aliens and Terminator II, and read plenty of adventure stories that had decent meaty parts for women). I can't remember the specifics of how I came upon Tomb Raider: perhaps I played it at a friend's house, or perhaps a family member had it. I was in the Scouts at this point, and just getting to that age where you go camping. Camping in Scotland is... a trial, at the best of times, so a game where you're out in frozen mountains and treacherous forests seemed like good preparation. In any case, I played that first level. After the opening cutscene fully establishes Lara's badass credentials, you start the game all alone in the Peruvian mountains. Your mountain guide was killed by a pack of wolves... that came from inside a sealed tomb.


It's so quiet. The only sound is of Lara's footsteps crunching in the snow. No music, no voiceover, nothing: just me, and the sound of Lara's movement - my movement. There are tracks on the ground - wolves, the same that I saw in the cutscene. I follow the tracks. As I run deeper, the sighs of the wind rush into the cave, like a great invisible creature soaring on unseen wings, that I involuntarily flinch at its approach. The only "heads-up" display is a single, easily-missed bar in the top right, which only flashes when I take damage - like when arrows suddenly loose from the walls. No cutscene, no ominous musical cue or strings, just the swift breath of darts. Then it disappears: unless the player took a mental note, they won't know how many hitpoints your avatar has left. No help from the computer.

I ran on, perturbed by how innocuous that first trap was despite the damage I took - and I did take damage, I hadn't expected to encounter my first trap so early. Lara's head turns to the left, cuing the player to go in that direction. I got a bit more used to the abrupt roars of the wind - if it was the wind. Bats fly at me, and I draw my guns: while normally bats pose no threat, I need all the health Lara's bar can hold, so I can't afford to take any chances. I shoot them despite my general pacifist standpoint in games: I try not to kill anything or anyone in games if I can help it. I notice that Lara has unerring aim compared to the first-person shooters I'd played: evidently she's highly trained in their use. I run onward, the caves expanding in size, strange creaks and groans setting me on edge. Soon I come to a great open space, overgrown with greenery, fallen masonry littering the floor. For a while I'm stumped, until I bravely drop down into a lower level, which leads to what was clearly an ancient room of sorts. No more severe but irregular edges, this was clear, angular walls and masonry - and at the end of this room was a lever. It takes a bit of maneuvering to align myself against the lever, but eventually I slide it down. More bats, more reluctant pulls of the trigger.

I continue on through another incongruous patch of snow, wondering where next my trail would lead. It's quieter again, which unsettles me even more than the menacing roars and groans of the stone. All through this I'm wondering just how there could be snow in this cave? The many passages in the roof and sides suggest possible routes to the outside, but for so much of it... I come to a new area, this time with bridges. I briefly ponder their function: was this place different back in the civilisation's heyday, or is there some other purpose to the bridges I'm missing? Then I notice the wolves, and my heart stops. Bats are one thing, but full-grown wolves? Sure, Lara had dispatched four of them in the opening cutscene, but that was Lara, not me. I walk past them, hoping they can be avoided: they see me. I watch them running about the floor below, but they can't reach up, so I feel somewhat safer. The next room  has a similar set up, but with a bear on the floor below. Oh man...

So yeah, I really liked Tomb Raider despite being the sort of disagreeable child who would try to win a game while doing the opposite of what the game was supposed to be about. I chose the "fists" path in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, but I also tried to get through Age of Empires purely by expanding my little town and not razing the enemy town to the dust. And in Tomb Raider II, I never locked Winstone in the freezer. Sometimes - usually, in fact - killing wildlife and bad guys was unavoidable, but I managed it. And Lara was awesome enough that I could believe that, while she didn't necessarily take pride in the fact she killed, she did take pride in the fact that she could do it well.

So early on, I knew I was going to grok what she was saying, and I did. Even so, there are parts of Becky's review that I disagree with:

In the run-up to release, I played Tomb Raider: Anniversary, a polished repackaging of the original game. It took no time for me to remember why my younger self had adored Lara. She’s cool and cocky, fearless to a fault. But it was clear, too, that I had filled in a lot of blanks on my own. The original incarnation of Lara Croft is not a layered one. There’s no backstory, no real motivation beyond thrill seeking. I didn’t need anything more than that at the age of eleven, but nowadays, I am not so easily satisfied.

"Filling in the blanks" is one of those things that can make a character. Nobody complains about how we never see James Bond go to Eton where he got expelled for that trouble with the maid, or exactly what that Giant Rat of Sumatra was all about, The Man With No Name's lack of... a name. But even so, there was a backstory for Lara, right there in the manual:

Lara Croft, daughter of Lord Henshingly Croft, was raised from birth to be an aristocrat. After she completed finishing school at the age of 21, Lara's marriage into wealth had seemed assured. But on her way home from a skiing trip, her chartered plane had crashed deep in the heart of the Himalayas. The only survivor, Lara learned how to depend on her wits to stay alive in hostile conditions - a world away from her sheltered upbringing.

Two weeks later when she walked into the village of Tokakeriby, her experiences had had a profound effect on her. Unable to stand the claustrophobic, suffocating atmosphere of upper-class British society, Lara realized that she was only truly alive when she was traveling alone.

Over the next eight years, Lara acquired an intimate knowledge of ancient civilizations across the globe. Her family soon disowned their prodigal daughter, and she turned to writing to fund her trips. Famed for discovering several ancient sites of profound archaeological interest, Lara made a name for herself by publishing travel books and detailed journals of her exploits.
There you go, all the motivation you need: Lara was brought up in a sheltered and cloistered life, but had a complete change of heart by spending two weeks alone in the frozen mountains of the Himalayas. When she returned to civilisation, she found it was no longer to her liking - probably never was - and found her joy and sense of self in isolation, far from Britain and all that comes with the aristocratic society she was raised in. You don't necessarily need a whole game based on this, any more than you needed a whole film based on Conan the Barbarian's childhood. And the problem with doing so is that you'll have to make sweeping changes just to make it a workable game. For instance, much is made in that paragraph of how Lara loved to travel alone, that she had to survive hostile conditions - suggesting that Lara was completely isolated during her ordeal, with no-one else present. Yet the story CD/Square Enix are making necessitates the presence of other voices - enemies, allies, neutrals, victims, villains - thus completely transforming the nature of Lara's crisis. And of course, changing the location from the Himalayas - which are so treacherous that the bodies of fallen explorers cannot be retrieved - to a tropical island profoundly changes that sense of isolation.

But then, that's because this is a New Lara for this generation.

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful
 - Roberta Williams

Becky started to experience problems at roughly the same time as I did:

But something had changed by the time I got my hands on Tomb Raider 2. I had changed. Two things had come into my life in between those games — the internet, and puberty. My knowledge of sexuality was flimsy, but I had come to understand that a woman with large breasts and skimpy clothing meant something. I vividly remember digging through Tomb Raider fansites, trying to find help for a puzzle I was stuck on, when all of a sudden, there was Lara, sprawled naked and winking at me. In that moment, my hero transformed. The feeling that I was treading into forbidden territory grew as I continued through the game, and in that final scene, with Lara poised to take a shower, saying “Don’t you think you’ve seen enough?” — I understood.
Lara Croft was not meant for me.

I was raised in a family almost entirely composed of women. An extended family: aunts, great aunts, grandmothers, my mother, my sister, countless female cousins. As such, I consider myself blessed to have so many great female influences in my early life (as well as some strong male ones like my grandfather, uncles, etc). I was 12 when Tomb Raider came out, and I looked on it exactly the way I looked on any adventure game. It seems trite, ludicrous to say given the bloated spectre of sexualisation that has amassed around the character since the first game, but I didn't look at Lara in a sexual way. Even her large breasts weren't a source of sexual appeal (at the time, I was a late developer): most of the women in my family were buxom, so Lara didn't feel like some unattainable sexual object, she felt like a member of the family. And I wanted nothing more than to go on adventures with her. She was someone to team up with, like Indiana Jones or Batman. I even wrote a little Lara Croft - Batman team-up that had no romantic element whatsoever, somehow breaking the Laws Of The Internet before they were written.

 This is who Lara Croft is to me: adventuring in perplexingly complex mazes of lost civilisations!

And let me tell you, as someone who already experienced alienation in High School, it's extremely depressing to be interested in something popular for the wrong reasons. Few of the girls at school were into games, for it was still that age where it was viewed as an exclusively male pursuit. The boys, though, they loved Tomb Raider... or rather, they loved Lara. And when I tried to form a connection to them by saying I liked Tomb Raider as well, I was rather surprised at their response: "Wow Al, never thought you had it in you, ya wee perv! Bet ye've found that Nude Raider cheat too!" Evidently they thought I was playing Tomb Raider as some sort of hormonal tension release aid. My protestation that this was not the case were met with "knowing" derision and lewd laughter, or "friendly" accusations of homosexuality on my part. So after a few more rounds of the lads trying to one-up each other in terms of what they would do to Ms Croft's person, I left the conversation in dismay. I thought I could talk to them about the dinosaurs and Atlantis and lost civilisations: you know, the game. I may as well have talked to them about the latest Playboy for all the reaction I received.

This is why I'm so frustrated when I see all these silly pinups of Lara posing in Lad's magazines, the fetish portraits on Deviantart, the constant refrain that people only bought the game so they could leer at Lara's body. That wasn't who Lara was to me: Lara was the sardonic, witty, intelligent and most of all independent adventurer who went out and sought excitement because that's what she wanted. She went into the Himalayas and Egypt and elsewhere because she craved the thrill of discovery, and was canny enough to sell off her stories and wares to the highest bidder. Her body was never an issue in that first game, never part of the gameplay, never a big deal. It was only a big deal to certain parts of the audience, to the point where even mentioning the name results in either disdainful scoffs or lascivious hoots.


Then Tomb Raider II came out, and my response was similar to Becky's at the denouement. I wasn't interested in seeing Lara naked despite being a straight boy, and I felt rather offended that the game developers assumed that's what the player wanted - yet wasn't it obvious this is what would happen? They had bought into the hype: no longer could Lara just be an adventurer, she became the sexy adventurer, and each successive game tried to one-up its predecessor, all as I rolled my eyes and tried to carry on with the game, thankyouverymuch. The overexcited classmates who made unflattering comparisons to dirigibles and ordinance: they were the audience that final scene was directed towards. But I didn't react like Becky, thinking that Lara Croft wasn't made for her, or me: that first game still stands up. What was happening was that Lara was being changed by boneheaded marketeers and myopic executives into what 12-year-old boys thought she was.

Crystal Dynamics' alterations of Lara's body and backstory bothered me for different reasons, because it seemed that they were changing Lara to be more "acceptable" to society: big breasts, long legs and thin waists are "only" for Hustler models and porn stars. Therefore in order to avoid the Male Gaze, she had to have a more "realistic" phenotype (while still managing to be absolutely gorgeous with a body many women would kill for anyway) - Lara's body had to be changed into something that wouldn't inflame the weak male mind. It didn't sit well with me, the idea that this Lara deserved the Male Gaze, and that if you didn't apply it to her, then something was wrong with you.

Now, as a grown and red-blooded man, I can appreciate how some would view Lara as sexually attractive, even if, for me, there's some sort of Westermarck effect going on. But instead of her deflated bosom and widened waist upsetting me in a purely "lizard-brain" mindset, it bothered me that Lara was, to me, great the way she was. It wasn't Lara that needed to change, it was everyone else. Lara Croft in the original games was a woman who had complete control over her destiny. She wanted to become an archaeologist, so she fought tooth and nail to get onto her first dig. She wanted to excel at everything she could put her mind to, so she became a practised equestrian, archer, marksman, you name it. And when her plane crashed in the mountains, she survived through grit and determination: when her parents disowned her after her complete change in attitude, she got back on her feet by becoming a successful writer and explorer. She did everything herself, and she shined.

But none of that mattered, because she had big breasts. That's all anyone seemed to care about. And it frustrates me that people who claim to say they don't judge on appearances proceed to do exactly that. Yes, it's a problem when women are overrepresented as sexualised in games, but then consider: what is sexy? Just about any body type can be sexy, and it's intent and suggestion which marks sexuality far more than mere appearance. The other problem was that when Tomb Raider came out, many female characters had similar builds - i.e. from the Tex Avery school of female character design - so Lara's physique was just another one of many.  And we certainly still have plenty of cheesecake, as the continued success of Soul Calibur, Ninja Gaiden and whatnot attest.

But the problem is that there's an all or nothing approach: it's almost as if you're allowed to objectify Ivy, Bayonetta or Rachel, but objectifying Alyx Vance, Jade, or Faith Connors is somehow more wrong. Why is that? In terms of character, Ivy, Bayonetta and Rachel are women just as much as the latter three, are they not deserving of basic dignity and acceptance?  Is it because their creators intended for them to be viewed this way, and so the audience should not look at them in any other light? Is it because their characters aren't as rich, developed or complex as their appearance, and so they don't deserve respect as characters? Is it because women with modest breasts, slim physiques (usually clad in at least a tank top and cargo trousers or jeans, maybe a jacket if it's cold) are less threatening, alienating, imposing - to males as well as females?

Jade, Zoe Castillo, Alyx Vance, Elena Fisher, Faith Connors, and Lara Croft all walk into a bar...

One review (which I unfortunately can't find) made an observation that struck me: that while the 2013 game was doing things that were new for Tomb Raider, they weren't new in the grand scheme of things. Lara engages in archery, which so happens to be a popular activity thanks to the success of The Hunger Games: the action is gritty and violent yet cinematic, and it just so happens Assassin's Creed and Uncharted are gritty and violent yet cinematic; it's a survival game set on a tropical island, which just happens to be the setting of several popular games that have been recently released. And Lara's body has been revamped in a way that has proven to be a common phenotype for positive female video game characters - but is this correlation, or causation? I would've thought the original Tomb Raider's popularity and the many females who cite Classic Lara as one of their heroes would suggest that Lara, buxom and leggy as she was, had enough positive traits in her actions, personality and agency, regardless of her physique.

But here's the weird thing: I've been ranting on and on about Lara's physique, and I'm sure some of you are thinking this is my overcomplicated way of obfuscating something rather simple - that I liked Lara when she had that physique, and I'm disappointed that she now doesn't. Which is true - but it isn't because I think this physique is "better" or "sexier," it's because that's who Lara was. You know what else they changed about Lara? They've softened her features, smoothed her jawline, slimmed her face a bit. Starting from Angel of Darkness onward (further proof that Angel of Darkness Ruined Everything Forever), and Lara's facial proportions are changed in the jump from cartoonish to realistic.


This new Lara bears more similarities to the first Crystal Dynamics Lara than the classic Lara, which I suppose is only to be expected. Obviously, it's difficult to think how to translate classic Lara's face into a more realistic one (assuming, of course, you'd want to, and I'm still not convinced making Lara realistic was some sort of natural evolution), but just as I miss Lara's old voice, physique and story, I... grew accustomed to her face, angular as it was. Even though New Lara's face is more detailed and more classically beautiful, I still miss those arched eyebrows, strong jaw, and sharp nose: it gave her character. This new face is that of just another supermodel.

An adventure may be worn as a muddy spot or it may be worn as a proud insignia - it is the woman wearing it who makes it the one thing or the other
 - Norma Shearer

It's at this point that the voice in the back of my head reminds me: Al, you're a man, of the male persuasion, talking about gender issues in a videogame. You have to be aware that you, as a man, of the male persuasion, have had a completely different experience, psychology, and neurological makeup.  Surely you realise that talking from a male's point of view, all hairy and bearded and festooned with manliness as you are, you cannot possibly comment on whether any iteration of Lara is alienating or empowering to women, whether her physique has any relevance to the discussion, or that establishing a Bildungsroman as the reboot instead of another adventure was needed in this day and age? And I have to readily admit that yes, being a man of the male persuasion complete with beard, it is impossible for me to see this from the woman's point of view. So all this is, of course, from the point of view of a person who's never experienced what a woman experiences from birth, all the gender politics, all the differences.

I can only talk about how I responded to Lara Croft - the original Lara, as her creator intended (more or less), before the publicity machine started turning her into a commodity, a franchise, a tool to be exploited. Back when she was an adventurer, not a pinup. Why should she have to change to fit this world, when she changed her world to fit her?

Let's go back to that Joseph Campbell quote I started with:

We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us — the labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.

This describes Lara Croft's journey in Tomb Raider to a tee. The hero = Lara Croft. The labyrinth = the game, many levels of which can be described quite accurately as labyrinths. The hero path is the progression that takes Lara from Peru, to Greece, to Egypt and beyond. The abomination could easily describe the Atlantean monsters, and the god is surely Natla. Lara literally slays herself (at least, her Doppelgänger) in Atlantis. And, of course, that line from the manual (Lara realized that she was only truly alive when she was traveling alone) shows that when Lara travels further and further from her home, the farther and farther she travels into her own being. Truly alive = truly herself. And where she had thought to be alone, she was at one with the world.

Becky's is the first review I've read that's really persuaded me to reconsider, but since it's clear that this is a "new" Lara, I guess it's not for me. It sounds like this new Lara's a brilliant character, but I wish they had taken this character and made her her own being, rather than reinvent an earlier one that didn't need reinventing (IMO) so much as reframing. Becky felt that classic Lara wasn't meant for her, whereas this new one one was = great! I'm more than happy. But I didn't see it that way: I looked beyond the Lucozade adverts and magazine centrefolds, ignored all the sexualisation going on. Perhaps because I was male, I had the luxury of being able to do that. She outright says - and I noticed a lot of other female commentators make this remark - that this Lara reminds them of themselves.  I guess I can't say that, again, on account of being a man.

One other thing: the game is rated 18, a first in the series. The makers (or, more likely, the stupid PR) claim that this is to enhance the "gritty reboot" aspect, a la Batman Begins and Casino Royale, alleging that children couldn't understand the deep, mature, heady character arc and themes (conveniently forgetting that both those films were PG-13/12 in the UK)*. And yet much is made in the community about making Lara a standard for female characters in gaming, which still has a long way to go, and needs all the positive portrayals they can get. It seems perverse that this new Lara, this more accessible, approachable, human Lara, will only be experienced legally by 18-year-olds, when it's the young gamers, the next generation, who could benefit the most from a positive female role model in gaming. Who else is there for younger gamers? All I can think of for the current generation is Portal.

My niece is 9 years old, and is starting to become aware of "big issues" and adult fears. She can't play the 2013 version of Tomb Raider, but she can play the 1996 version. And you know what? I think she'd do just fine with that one. Though she'd probably need help on some of the puzzles - I know I did.


And I bet this new reboot doesn't have any T-rexes either. Check. Mate.

*I read this in (I believe) Edge magazine, but can't find an online version, unfortunately.

7 comments:

  1. I had a similar experience with Buffy - outside the geek world, it turns out a whole load of males watched it just for the "hot" high school girls.

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    1. Sounds a lot like my experience with Xena, as a matter of fact.

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  2. What's always seemed strange to me regarding Lara Croft's image is that when those first games came out, 3D graphics were so primitive that it was impossible for me to perceive them as sexy. Lara didn't look like a voluptuous woman to me but like a crude mass of polygons stuck together in the general shape of a human female. The idea is looking at her and thinking "Oh baby, what juicy hotness!" is about hilarious to me as having that reaction to someone telling you the yellow square in Adventure is a nude woman.

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    1. Well Andy, I think that's very much a person-to-person thing. Certainly I think there's enough psychological grounding in pareidolia that people can find Jessica Rabbit, which is essentially a collection of lines and colours, appealing, because the lines and colours remind them of actual women: the exaggerated attributes thus cause a cognitive response which leads to a lizard-brain response. I ain't no scientist, now, but I do think that's what's going on with Lara for some people.

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  3. I don't know Al... I haven't read your other Tomb Raider articles, and I myself have only a very limited history with the series (It never really was my taste in Gaming), so my view might not be worth a lot. However, I really don't see the problem here. Rebooting a series that has by all accounts gone stale and giving it a new direction doesn't seem like such a bad thing to me, especially since this is mostly considered to be a good game.

    I realize it probably sucks seeing a character you love mutated in something into something unrecognizable, but the old games aren't going away, and the choices they made might ultimately be for the better (considering the series had been going downhill for some time). Also, as a bonus, from what I've heard this Lara is basically Lara as she was before she changed her attitude as you wrote in your rant. So there's a chance she might become closer to the Badass you grew up with.

    As for the change in appearance... I honestly can't tell much of a difference. Sure, her features were made more realistic, but games are trending in this direction nowadays, and she looks recognizable to me. That might be because she never really made much of an impact on me.

    Sorry, that was pretty terribly expressed by me, but those are my thoughts anyways.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Laurens! Well, part of the reason I'm so dejected is that a reboot of some sort did seem necessary from a financial standpoint. It hasn't been stale per se, Underworld apparently sold well, but it was clear that it was just a variation on Legend/Anniversary, so CD decided to jump ahead instead of wait for a real crisis. As such, the idea that something radically different could translate into sales is something that makes sense, and it frustrates me that we've come to this point with the franchise (though it doesn't surprise me, again, as given the descent of the franchise since the very first game)

      Rebooting a series that has by all accounts gone stale and giving it a new direction doesn't seem like such a bad thing to me, especially since this is mostly considered to be a good game.

      In and of itself, new directions are not a bad thing, I just don't like the particular direction it's gone in. Others, even other Tomb Raider fans, happily reconcile this Lara to classic Lara, so it's obviously an entirely subjective thing. It just kind of sucks that not only do I not share in their enjoyment, but I'm starting to resent everyone dismissing the original games and the original heroine as a relic: they either underplay the games' role in the development of the 3D platformer/adventure genre, or reduce Lara to a caricature based on the marketing and parodies. I'd just rather people talked about the game being good without dragging the originals through the muck.

      Also, as a bonus, from what I've heard this Lara is basically Lara as she was before she changed her attitude as you wrote in your rant. So there's a chance she might become closer to the Badass you grew up with.

      It sounds probably, but I would've rather they just started with that game instead of this one. But, again, different folks.

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  4. Abit late replying, but a great article Tara.

    I loved this game all for the right reasons tbh, the game play and puzzles when I was a teenager playing this game. I did not see her as sexualised either honestly at the time when I played it on the PS1. I was used to strong women by then, considering Aliens being one of my favourite films with a strong female non sexualised lead. I too seen Lara like this over the tight hot pants. The game play was excellent and breath taking at times. I had no time for thinking about the chick etc while trying to survive the bad guys. :P

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