It’s been a big few years for Lara Croft. Her rebirth in the revival of Tomb Raider has given her a new look and a new story, but when we get right down to it, she’s still the same Lara she’s been since 1996.
I remember growing up, hearing Tomb Raider criticized as a sexist portrayal of a female protagonist, because they’d managed to cram Lara’s polygonal body into teeny tan shorts and a tank top and she visibly had breasts.
But looking back on it now, in that iconic era of video games where some of the most prolific characters were brought into existence, Lara Croft was sort of revolutionary.
If, as modern feminists implore you to do, you look beyond Lara’s physical appearance and examine her fully as a person, you’ll find much more to her than her Angelina Jolie lips and roughly rendered thigh gap.
Besides maybe Samus Aran, Lara Croft is one of the only female characters who has persisted to remain a household name since the “Golden Age” of video games and isn’t tied to a male character who is otherwise the hero of the game.
So I want to celebrate Lara’s long and successful career as a video game heroine in this week’s installment of Another Castle.
Name: Lara Croft
Quote: “In our darkest moments, when life flashes before us, we find something. Something to keep us going.”
Occupation: Archaeologist, Raider of Tombs
Personality: In the aftermath of surviving a near-death experience, Lara receives a new lease on life. Rebuking her aristocratic upbringing and getting disowned in the process, Lara abandons her family’s plans for her in favor of a life of adventure and mystery.
Having survived a plane crash or ship wreck (depending on your storyline,) Lara must scavenge and use her instincts to survive and get back to civilization. Once she’s done that, she can’t wait to dive back in.
Lara grew up an introverted academic, and it’s that knowledge that most likely saved her hide when she found herself alone in the wilderness.
Abilities: Acrobatics, Mountain-climbing, Survival, Spelunking, Combat
Her game series: Tomb Raider
Why she rocks: Whether it was a near-death experience or growing up reading about swashbuckling adventurers, once Lara gets a taste of a life of intrigue, she cannot be stopped.
She hardly hesitates before she’ll leave behind everything she knows, a life where she’ll never have to lift a finger, to explore caves and tombs, to uncover ancient artifacts and secrets.
She’s passionate and adventurous and she’s doing it all on her own.
Why you should play her game: Before I even get into the juicy stuff, I’ll just give you the obvious reason: it’s a classic!
There’s a reason Lara has, like, four different timelines and has never gone more than a decade without a game coming out. We love the very basic instinct for exploration and intrigue, and that plus the mystical secrets Lara has a knack for uncovering keeps up coming back. The originals are sort of a nostalgic feeling and since the stories have been rebooted a few times, there isn’t really a linear storyline between all of the games, so you can pop in and out of whichever games you feel most fits your savvy.
That being said, the newest reboot, the Survivors storyline, gives a new spin to Lara’s story. After surviving the trials of the jungle, Lara uncovers a secret that the world needs to know.
If only they’d believe her.
Why we’re glad she’s out here reppin’ for the ladies: Like I said before, Lara Croft holds an iconic place in the Golden age of video games, when some of the first characters with names and stories were birthed and became well known faces among the entertainment industry.
Being one of the few females from the sausage party of the late-80’s/early-90’s game library, she was always hailed as a “sexy character” because she had feminine proportions and features. That’s not a bad thing.
Part of Samus’s character was that she was meant to be indistinguishable as a female until the very end. For Lara, we see her as female throughout the entire game and we see what she’s capable of. There is no part in which we watch her stunting around the jungle and think “She would have an easier time doing XYZ if she were a man.”
Lara, from the very beginning, has always had a unique and complex storyline that made her a survivor instead of a damsel.
And for that, we thank you, Lara.