Lara Croft, as she appears in a promotional render from Tomb Raider: Anniversary
|Series||Tomb Raider series|
|First game||Tomb Raider (1996)|
|Created by||Toby Gard|
|Voiced by||Shelley Blond (1996)
Judith Gibbins (1997–1998)
Jonell Elliott (1999–2003)
Keeley Hawes (2006–present)
Minnie Driver (animated series)
|Motion capture actor(s)||Heidi Moneymaker (2008)|
|Live action actor(s)||Angelina Jolie (films)|
Lara Croft is an English fictional character and the protagonist of Eidos Interactive's (Now Square Enix Europe) Tomb Raider video game series. Created by Toby Gard, the character has also appeared in comic books, novels and a series of animated short films, and has been played by Angelina Jolie in two feature films. Lara is generally presented as a beautiful, intelligent, athletic, and somewhat reckless English archaeologist-adventurer who frequently ventures into ancient and hazardous tombs and ruins.
The character's classic costume is a turquoise sleeveless Bodysuit, light brown shorts, calf-high boots, long white socks, fingerless gloves, a backpack, a utility belt with holsters on either side and two pistols, an outfit appearing in nearly every Tomb Raider game to date. Variations on this theme, such as camouflage pants and black or light-brown shirts, have appeared in some games and she has worn a wet suit for a watery environment or trousers and a jacket for a colder area.
Lara Croft was designed as the lead protagonist of Core Design's video game Tomb Raider, which began development in 1993. Lead graphic artist Toby Gard went through about five designs before arriving at the character's final appearance. He initially envisioned a male lead character with a whip and a hat. Core Design co-founder Jeremy Smith characterized the design as derivative of Indiana Jones, and asked for more originality. Gard decided that a female character would work better from a design standpoint. He also claimed a desire to counter stereotypical female characters, which he has characterized as "bimbos" or "dominatrix" types. Initially, Smith was skeptical of a female lead because few games at the time featured them. However, he felt a female lead would to be a great hook, and decided to put faith in Gard's idea. Inspired by pop artist Neneh Cherry and comic book character Tank Girl, Gard experimented with different designs, including a muscular woman and a Nazi-like militant. He settled on a tough South American woman with a braid named Laura Cruz. Eidos management—the series' publisher—preferred a more "UK friendly" name, and selected Lara Croft from similar-sounding British names found in an English telephone directory. Along with the name change, the character's back-story was altered to incorporate a British origin.
One of Gard's main concerns was to animate the character realistically, an aspect he felt the industry at the time had disregarded. He sacrificed quick animations in favor of more realistic movement, believing that players would empathize with the character more easily. In the first Tomb Raider, Lara Croft's character model is made of around 230 polygons. The graphical limits at the time required the removal of the character's braid from the model. While adjusting the character model, Gard accidentally increased the breasts' dimensions by 150 percent. After seeing the increase, however, the rest of the creative team argued the change should remain. Core Design hired Shelley Blond to voice Lara Croft after the game enter the beta phase of development. Gard left Core Design after completing Tomb Raider, citing a lack of creative freedom and control over marketing decisions related to the ideas he developed, specifically Lara Croft.
Core Design would improve and modify the character with each installment. In Tomb Raider II, the number of polygons in the character's model was increased and more realistic curves were added to the design. Other changes included new outfits and manoeuvres. Crawling was planned to be implemented as an additional gameplay option, but was omitted. Actress Judith Gibbins took over voice acting responsibilities and stayed on through Tomb Raider III. By the third game, the developers increased the number polygons in Lara Croft's 3D model to about 300, and introduced more abilities to the gameplay. For Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, the developers wanted to reintroduce the character to players and included a flashback scenario with a younger Lara. Core Design expanded the character's set of moves three fold to allow more interaction with the environment like swinging on ropes and kicking open doors. The character model was altered to feature more realistic proportions. Jonell Elliott replaced Gibbons as the voice of Lara Croft. By the time development for The Last Revelation began, Core Design had constantly worked on the series for four years and the staff felt they had exhausted their creativeness. Feeling the series lacked innovation, Core Design decided to kill the character and depicted Lara Croft trapped by a cave-in during the final scenes of the game.
With the character dead, the next title (Tomb Raider Chronicles) depicted Lara Croft via flashbacks told by her friends. The game introduced stealth attacks, which would carry over to the next game, Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. While the original development team worked on Chronicles, Core Design assigned a new team to develop Angel of Darkness for the PlayStation 2. Feeling that the then next generation consoles would be very different from previous ones, Adrian Smith—co-founder of Core Design—wanted to reinvent the character to keep pace with the updated technology. Core Design conducted market research, including fan polls, to aid in Angel of Darkness's development. The development team felt they could not alter the character and instead opted to place her in a situation different from previous games. The PlayStation 2 hardware allowed for a more detailed character model and more manoeuvres. The number of polygons in Lara Croft's character model increased to 4,400. The team sought to add more melee manoeuvres to better match Lara Croft's portrayal as an expert fighter in her back-story. Movement control was switched from the directional pad to the analog control stick to provide more precision. After the original team finished Chronicles, they joined the development of Angel of Darkness. However, excess content, missed production deadlines, and Eidos's desire to release the title in conjunction with a Tomb Raider film, resulted in a poorly designed game; Lara Croft was brought back to life without explanation and the character controls lacked precision.
Angel of Darkness received a negative reception, which prompted Eidos—fearing financial troubles from another unsuccessful game—to give development duties for future titles to Crystal Dynamics. The Legacy of Kain development team began work on a new title (Tomb Raider: Legend), and Toby Gard returned to work as a consultant. The development team reassessed the brand value of the franchise and its protagonist. Chip Blundell, Eidos's vice-president of brand management, commented that the designers understood that fans saw the character and brand as their own, rather than Eidos's. With that in mind, the team retooled the franchise and character to emphasize aspects of the original game that made them unique. The storyline intended for a trilogy of games that started with Angel of Darkness was abandoned and a new plot was created for Legend.
In re-developing the character, Crystal Dynamics focused on believability rather than realism. Decisions were focused on "What could Lara do?", and the team tried to give the character's action more freedom. They updated Lara Croft's move set to make the character's movements appear more fluid and continuous. The animations were also updated so the character could better interact with objects in the environment. The developers introduced a feature that causes the character's skin and clothing appear wet after swimming and dirty after rolling on the ground. Responding to criticism directed at the character controls in Angel of Darkness, Crystal Dynamics redesigned the character's control scheme to provide the best third-person action experience. The developers also introduced close-quarter melee manoeuvres. Crystal Dynamics updated the character model to add more realism, but retained its caricatured design. The polygon count was increased to over 9800, and more attention was paid to the character's lip syncing and facial expressions to allow for dynamic emotional responses to in-game events. In redesigning the character's appearance, Crystal Dynamics updated Lara Croft's hairstyle, wardrobe, and accessories. The shirt was changed to a V-neck shirt, Lara Croft features more muscle tone, and the braid was switched to a pony tail. Rachel Weisz was rumored to provide voice work for the character; however, Keeley Hawes became the new voice actor. The changes made in Legend were carried over to Tomb Raider: Anniversary, a remake of the first game. Minor changes were made like more detail added to Lara Croft's character model.
Tomb Raider: Underworld continued the plot line established in Legend. Crystal Dynamics used new technology to improve the character for seventh generation consoles, with a focus on improving realism. The dirt accumulation and water cleansing mechanic from Legend was altered to be a real-time mechanic that can involve the entire game environment. Spherical harmonics add indirect lighting to in-game objects like Lara Croft to make them appear more natural in the surroundings. The character model is more complex and detailed than previous installments. It has more texture layers that determine the appearance of shadows and reflective light on it, and uses skeletal animation to portray believable movement. The developers enhanced Lara Croft's facial model by increasing the number of polygons, bones used in the animation skeleton, and graphical shaders in the face to add more detail and expressive capabilities. The hair was created as a real-time cloth simulation to further add realism to its shape and movement. As a result, the developers kept Lara Croft's hair tied back because they felt a real person would not want it flying around while performing dangerous manoeuvres. The character's body shape size was increased and breast size reduced to portray more realistic proportions.
The developers tried to redefine Lara Croft's actions by questioning what they felt the character was capable of. While previously games used hand-animated movement for the character, UnderWorld introduced motion captured-based animation to portray more fluid, realistic movement and facial expressions. Stuntwoman and Olypmic Gold medalist Heidi Moneymaker was the motion capture actor, and also advised the designers what movements were practical. The recorded animation was later adjusted by animators, and blended to create seamless transitions between the separate moves and simultaneous combinations of them. The blends and additional animations are also meant to give the character more flexible movement. Actions were overlapped to allow for multitasking, such as aiming at two separate targets and shooting with one hand while the other holds an object collected from the environment. Other additions include more melee attacks, as well as contextual offensive and climbing manoeuvres. Crystal Dynamics sought to make the visual appearance of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions identical, although the systems use different techniques to achieve this. In response to Underworld's sales figures that failed to meet Eidos's expectations, the publisher reportedly considered altering the character's appearance to appeal more to female fans.
Lara Croft first appeared in the 1996 video game Tomb Raider, introduced in the manual as Lord Henshingly Croft's disinherited daughter, who has survived a Himalayan plane crash. The game follows Lara's search for the "Atlantean Scion" artefact, and her encounter with an ancient ruler of Atlantis. Tomb Raider II, released in 1997, centres around Lara's search for the Dagger of Xian, an artefact loosely based on Chinese mythology. During her search, Lara faces a cult obsessed with using the artefact's power to their own ends. In Tomb Raider III Lara seeks ancient meteorite fragments which convey strange powers and became associated with various cultures' myths.
In 1998 and 1999, three expansion packs were released that expanded the gameplay of the three video games. Tomb Raider: Unfinished Business (Tomb Raider Gold in North America), depicted Lara escaping the Great Pyramid and returning to Egypt. Tomb Raider II: The Golden Mask featured Lara searching for an artefact with the power of resurrection. In The Lost Artefact, Lara searches for the Hand of Rathmore, a fifth meteorite piece.
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, released in 1999, depicted Lara accompanying archaeologist Werner Von Croy to Cambodia and developing her interest in ancient civilisations. Lara searches for artefacts associated with the god Horus so that she can defeat Set, who has possessed Von Croy. That game contains an extra level, known as the "Times Exclusive Level", which has The Times of London hiring Lara to explore some passages under Tutankhamun's tomb.
In Tomb Raider Chronicles, released in 2000, most of the game focuses on previously untold earlier adventures featuring Lara finding the Philosopher's Stone, the Spear of Destiny, helping in an exorcism and breaking into a building to steal an artefact. Von Croy searches for Lara, but her fate is left unresolved.
In 2000 Lara first appeared on Tomb Raider on the handheld Game Boy Color game console. The story is unrelated to the original Tomb Raider and follows Lara's search for the Nightmare Stone. Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword (2001) sees Lara facing off against a cult which plans to use her body to revive a witch.
In the 2003 game, Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, Lara appears alive and well, but the segment explaining her survival was cut from the final game. (Mike Resnik's novelization Tomb Raider: The Amulet of Power depicts Lara being rescued from beneath a collapsed pyramid.) While revolving around artefacts connected to the Nephilim and Lara's search for these after she is accused of murdering Von Croy, the game also introduced Kurtis Trent, the first playable character (other than Lara) in the series.
Tomb Raider: Legend (2006) like previous games does not use the backstory provided in the original game's instruction manual, and even contradicts it.
Several flashback sequences depict a nine-year-old Lara (voiced by Charlotte Asprey) surviving a plane crash in Nepal with her mother, Amelia Croft. Amelia disappears after reprising the Arthurian legend by pulling a sword from a stone; the entire game deals with Lara's search for an Arthurian artefact. Surviving a journey to Kathmandu, she contacts her father (now named Richard, not Henshingly, Croft) and grows up in the care of her archaeologist father. At 18, Lara inherits the Croft estates along with the title "Countess of Abbingdon."
Tomb Raider: Anniversary, a 2007 remake of the first game in the series, changes the original story for consistency with Lara's backstory in Legend. Anniversary implies that Lara had searched for the Atlantean Scion, which her father believed to hold clues about Amelia's disappearance.
For Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008), Lara's movements were based on those of Olympic gymnast and stuntwoman Heidi Moneymaker recorded through motion capture techniques. Lara is searching for Thor's hammer, Mjöllnir, and acquires Thor's gauntlets, belt and hammer whilst attempting to enter Helheim in search of answers concerning her mother's disapperance.
In 2009, two downloadable levels were added on Xbox Live for Underworld. In the first of these, Beneath the Ashes, Lara explores dungeons beneath her manor, and she discovers the "Eitr Stone", which can control thralls. The second level, Lara's Shadow, features Lara's doppelgänger as the playable character.
Lara Croft has been portrayed in two feature films by Academy Award winning actress Angelina Jolie. The films depicted Lara Croft's backstory differently than games prior to Legend. In the games, the character's parents are alive, while in the films, her mother died in a plane crash and her father disappeared in Cambodia. The first, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, was released in 2001. The film follows Lara Croft as she encounters the Illuminati, a group searching for a relic able to control time. In 1998, Paramount Pictures acquired the film rights for Tomb Raider. Producer Lloyd Levin stated that the film makers tried to capture the essence of the video game elements rather than duplicate them. Acknowledging the character's "huge fan base" and recognizable appearance, director Simon West sought an actress with acting ability and physical attributes similar to Lara Croft. Paramount also received input from Core Design on casting. Rumored actresses included Pamela Anderson, Demi Moore, Jeri Ryan, and Carla Pivonski.
Jolie was eventually cast to play Lara Croft. Prior to the film, she was not a fan of the character. However, Jolie considered the role as a "big responsibility", stating that high expectations from fans resulted in anxiety. Producer Lawrence Gordon felt she was a perfect fit for the role. Jolie braided her hair and used minimal padding to increase her bust a cup size to 36D for the role. She felt that Lara Croft's video game proportions were unrealistic, and wanted to avoid showing such proportions to young girls. Jolie trained rigorously for the action scenes required for role, occasionally sustaining injuries. Her training focused on practicing the physical skills necessary to perform the film's stunts. The difficulty of the training and injuries discouraged her, but she continued working through production. Jolie also encountered difficulties when working the guns, bungy jumping, and manoeuvring with the braid. West did not anticipate Jolie doing her own stunts, but was surprised along with stunt coordinator Simon Crane at her ability to perform the film's stunts.
Angelina Jolie reprised her role for a sequel, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, in which Lara Croft searches for Pandora's Box against a Chinese crime syndicate. Directed by Jan De Bont, the film focused more on the character's development. De Bont praised Jolie's understanding of the character. He also praised the character's strength, saying he "hates women in distress." Levin commented that the film staff tried to handle the character properly, and consulted with the video game developers on what would be appropriate. Despite the poor reception of the second film, Paramount remained open to releasing a third one. By 2007, Jolie was still optioned to play the character in another sequel. Development for a third movie was announced in 2009, with Dan Lin as the producer. However, a new actress is currently being sought to play the title character. Lin intends to reboot the film series with a young Lara Croft in an origin story.
Since 1997, the character has regularly appeared in comics by Top Cow Productions. Lara Croft first appeared in a crossover in Sara Pezzini's Witchblade, and later starred in her own comic book series in 1999. The series began with Dan Jurgens as the writer, with artwork by Andy Park and Jon Sibal. The stories were unrelated to the video games until issue 32 of the Tomb Raider series, which adapted Angel of Darkness's plot. The series ran for 50 issues in addition to a few special issues. In 2007, GameTap released Re\Visioned: Tomb Raider Animated Series via the GameTap TV section of their website. The web series is a collection of ten short animated films that features re-imagined versions of Lara Croft by well-known animators, comic book artists, and writers, including Jim Lee, Warren Ellis, and Peter Chung. Episodes ranged from five to seven and half minutes in length. Actress Minnie Driver provided the voice for Lara Croft. The creative staff was given considerable freedom to re-interpret the character. They did not consult the video game designers, but were given a list of acceptable and unacceptable practices as a guide.
The character's debut in 1996 is often cited as a catalyst that spurred the appearance of more female leads in video games. Kaiser Hwang of PlayStation Magazine commented that Lara Croft "brought girl power" to video games. IGN commented that the character helped redefined gender in video games by providing a different interpretation of what women could do. Computer and Video Games commented that Lara Croft's appearance on the cover of The Face signaled a change in the perception of video games from "geeky" to mainstream. IGN's Jesse Schedeen described Lara Croft as one of few characters to receive a decent videogame-to-movie adaptation. Yahoo! Movies and IGN credit Jolie's role in the first Tomb Raider film with significantly raising her profile and propelling her to international super-stardom respectively. Jolie commented that young children would ask her to sign objects as Lara Croft. By 2008, the first Tomb Raider movie was the highest-grossing video game movie and the largest opening ever for a movie headlined by a woman. The character is honoured in the British city Derby, previous home to Core Design. In 2007, Radleigh Homes placed a blue plaque for Lara Croft at the site of Core Design's former offices, now a block of flats. The Derby City Council opened a public vote in 2009 to name its new ring road. The winning choice, with 89% of over 27,000 votes, was "Lara Croft Way".
Marketing of the character was handled by Eidos's German branch and the KMF agency. Eidos was concerned with diluting Lara Croft's personality and avoided products they felt did not fit the character. Ian Livingstone, Eidos's product acquisition director, commented that the company declines most merchandising proposals. He stated that Eidos primarily focuses on game development and views such promotion outside video games as exposure for the character.
Lara croft has appeared on the cover of multiple video game magazines. The character has also been featured on the cover of non-video game publications such as British style magazine The Face, American news magazines Time and Newsweek, German magazine Focus, and the front page of British newspaper the Financial Times. Eidos licensed the character for third party advertisements, including television ads for Visa, Lucozade drinks, G4 TV, Brigitte magazine, and SEAT cars. Retro Gamer staff attributes Lara Croft's "iconic" status in part to the Lucaozade commericals, calling them one of the most memorable advertisements to use video game elements. Picture advertisements appeared on the sides of double-decker buses and walls of subway stations. Irish rock band U2 commissioned custom renders for video footage displayed on stage in their 1997 PopMart tour. German punk band Die Ärzte's 1998 music video for "A Pig Named Men" (German: "Ein Schwein namens Männer") also features Lara Croft. Music groups have dedicated songs to the character, culminating in the release of the album A Tribute to Lara Croft. Bands and artists including Depeche Mode, Moby, Faith No More, Jimi Tenor, and Apollo 440 donated their songs for the album. Near the end of 2006, Lara Croft became the spokesmodel for the Skin Cancer Awareness Foundation of Minden, Nevada as part of their Sun Smart Teen Program. The foundation felt that the character personified the benefits a healthy body and young teenagers could relate to Lara Croft.
Various types of merchandise have been modeled after Lara Croft's likeness. Toy Biz licensed action figures based on the video game version of the character. Playmates released action figures modeled after Jolie to merchandise Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Graphic designer Marc Klinnert of Studio OXMOX released 1⁄6 scale model kits of the character, and eventually built a full scale version. PlayStation Magazine promoted a life-size Lara Croft mannequin as a contest prize. Tomber Rader: Underworld themes and wallpapers featuring the character were released for the PlayStation 3. Eidos released a brand of Lara Croft apparel and accessories, marketed under the label "LARA©". The line included Zippo lighters, wallets, watches, and bathrobes. Lara Croft's likeness has also appeared on French postage stamps and PlayStation memory cards. In October 1997, Eidos held an art exhibition titled "Lara Goes Art" in Hamburg, Germany to promote Tomb Raider II. The exhibit featured selected artwork of the character submitted by artists and fans. Pieces included oil and airbrushed paintings, photo-stories, Klinnert's model, and video from SZM Studios—the studio produced the computer-generated footage for Die Ärzte's music video and the Brigitte magazine commercial.
Since Tomb Raider's inception, Eidos hired several models to portray Lara Croft at publicity events, promotions, trade shows, and photo shoots. Nathalie Cook was the first model, and portrayed the character from 1996 to 1997. Cook was followed by actress Rhona Mitra from 1997 to 1998. At this point, Eidos updated the Lara Croft costume to more accurately match its depiction in the video games. Fashion model Nell McAndrew portrayed Lara Croft from 1998 until 1999 when Eidos fired her for posing in Playboy, which used the character and Tomb Raider franchise to promote the McAndrew's issue without Eidos's approval. Core Design sought an injunction to protect the character's image. Eidos later donated McAndrew's Tomb Raider costume to a UNICEF charity auction.
Lara Weller followed McAndrew from 1999 to 2000. Subsequent models were Lucy Clarkson from 2000 to 2002 and Jill de Jong, who wore a new costume based on Lara Croft's new appearance in Angel of Darkness, from 2002 to 2004. Karima Adebibe became the model from 2006 to 2008, and wore a costume based on the updated version of Lara Croft in Legend. She was the first model Eidos allowed to portray Lara Croft outside posing for photography. To prepare for the role, Adebibe trained in areas the character was expected to excel in like combat, motorcycling, elocution, and conduct. The current model, gymnast Alison Carroll, succeeded Adebibe in 2008 and features apparel based on the character's appearance in Underworld. Similar to Adebibe, Carroll received special training—Special Air Service survival, weapons, and archaeology—to fill the role. The number of models prompted Guinness World Records to award the character an official record for the "most official real life stand-ins" in 2008.
The character has been well-received by publications. Lara Croft holds a Guinness World Record as the "most recognized female video game character". The character was given a star on the Walk of Game in San Francisco, California. Video game publications like PlayStation Magazine, IGN, Edge, and PlayStation: The Official Magazine have labeled the character as both a video game and cultural icon. Several publications have also used her as the standard to which later female video game characters have been compared. Game Informer commented that the character is well-liked around the world, particularly England. Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine described Lara Croft as "one of today's premier videogame and movie heroes", and Play magazine described Lara Croft as "3D gaming's first female superstar". Author Leo Hartas called Lara Croft one of the most famous game women, and described her as independent. Karen Jones of Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine described the character as "one of the biggest stars on the PlayStation". In 1998, PlayStation Magazine commented that Lara Croft was one of the most memorable characters on the PlayStation console, and echoed a similar statement in 2004.
Lara Croft's appearance in the first Tomb Raider garnered praised. Rob Smith of PlayStation: The Official Magazine described the character's debut as becoming a video game icon for that generation. Author Leo Hartas attributes the success of the character in part to its "fresh and unexpected" arrival in a "jaded market". Computer and Video Games said Lara Croft's debut "wowed the world with her ballsy attitude and tough girl image." Game artist Sandy Spangler listed Lara Croft as an extremely successful character that "broke the mold". IGN credited a rise in PlayStation sales in part to Lara Croft's debut on the system. PlayStation Magazine attributed the success of the first title in part to the character. Conversely, Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine stated that the first game's success on the PlayStation propelled the character to prominence, becoming a mascot for the system. PlayStation Magazine credits coverage in the Financial Times as the starting point of the character's mainstream attention.
According to Game Informer, a string of bad video game sequels and the poorly received film sequel negatively affected the character's popularity. The magazine cited the release of The Angel of Darkness as the low point for the character, and commented that Lara Croft lost her "mystique" as the franchise expanded outside video games. IGN editor Colin Moriarty has stated that while she began as an intelligent and strong female character, her games grew bland and she became more like a virtual blow-up doll. Computer and Video Games commented that the character started to look "old and tired" in The Last Revelation. In describing Angel of Darkness's reception, the magazine declared that the "queen is dead". PlayStation Magazine reviewer Ryan Rayhill commented that the string of poor sequels relegated the character to a "gaming also-ran".
Crystal Dynamics' rendition of Lara Croft in Legend garnered praise; many publications described the portrayal as a successful reboot. Game Informer named Lara Croft the number six top video game hero of 2006, citing the character's successful reprise in popularity. Legend was listed as one of the top 50 games of 2006, also for the character's reprise among other reasons. The magazine later attributed the character's alterations in Legend in part to helping the series and Lara Croft regain popularity. Conversely, Schedeen felt the reboot did little to rekindle the character's popularity, and listed her as the second most overrated video game character. Dana Jongewaard of Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine commented that playing the character in Legend was enjoyable again. Chris Slate of PlayStation Magazine lauded the character changes in Legend, commenting that "Lara is finally back". He praised Eidos' decision to switch developers and Crystal Dynamics' contributions, specifically the character's new gameplay manoeuvres and updated appearance. Jongewaard, however, stated that Lara Croft's outfit lacked sophistication and made her look like a 1990s "15-year old floozy".
Lara Croft is considered by critics and fans alike as one of the most significant game characters in popular culture. The first two sequels of the series portray the character as being increasingly bloodthirsty and occasionally as not having the option to avoid lethal force against "human" characters. Tomb Raider III was heavily criticized for showing Lara fighting security guards and military police officers. To "address" this issue, Anniversary added a subplot where Lara supposedly felt guilty when she killed for the first time, with Toby Gard stating: "We wanted to make Lara's first kill more meaningful".
Since the release of Tomb Raider, fansites dedicated to the character appeared on the internet in several languages. The websites contained official and fan-created images of Lara Croft, photographs of the models that portrayed her, and fan fiction starring the character. By 2000, search engine HotBot yielded around 4,700 pages for a search of the character's name. Admirers would discuss rumors related Lara Croft via usenet newsgroups and ICQ chats. Enthusiasts also collected merchandise and paraphernalia, submitted fan art to video game magazines, participated in Lara Croft cosplay, and obtained tattoos depicting the character. Spurred by a rumor that Eidos provided Lara Croft autographs, fans wrote to the company to obtain them. The quantity prompted Eidos to quickly produce autographed cards to meet the demand. One admirer, Niels Berhdsen, road a bike over 500 miles from Amsterdam to Derby wearing Lara Croft brand clothing to meet the developers, who openly greeted him upon learning of the trip.
Despite Toby Gard intentions for Lara Croft to be sexy "only because of her power", the character has become a sex symbol for video games. Schedeen stated that the character is among the first video game icons to be accepted as a mainstream sex symbol. Robert Ashley of Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine described the Lara Croft as the first video game character openly thought of as sexy, and attributed the appearance of similar 3D characters to her. Publications like Play, GameTrailers, and PlayStation Magazine listed big breasts as one of the character's most famous attributes. In 2008, the character was ranked first and second on two UGO Networks lists of hottest video game characters. GameDaily placed Lara Croft number on a similar list that same year. PlayStation: The Official Magazine awarded the character honorable mention for Game Babe of the Year in 2008. Lara Croft has appeared in several issues of Play's Girls of Gaming special and PlayStation Magazine's Swimsuit special. Layouts portray the character partially nude, in bikinis, and in revealing cocktail dresses, though Tomb Raider: Underworld's creative director Eric Lindstrom criticized such poses as out of character. He further stated that they conflict with Lara Croft's popular strengths, and felt that fans respond more strongly to images of the character dressed more conservatively than to ones with provocative poses. PlayStation Magazine's staff agreed, commenting that better use of the character's sex appeal would please fans more.
Male players would perform in-game actions to make Lara Croft repeatedly say phrases and view closer camera angles of her bust, while pornography featuring the character has been distributed via the internet. After the release of the first game, rumors about a cheat code to remove the character's clothes spread via the internet. Despite Core Design's denial of such a code and mentions of the company's response in video game publications, the rumor persisted, fueled by manipulated images that depicted Lara Croft nude. The rumor was still present by the time Legend was released. PlayStation Magazine featured an April Fool's parody of Lara Croft and the rumored nude code, creating a character "Valkyrie Wilde", referred to as "Nude Raider" and clothed solely in gun holsters and belt. Fans developed software patches for the personal computer releases of Tomb Raider to remove Lara Croft's clothing in the games.
Reaction from groups have been mixed. The quarterly journal Leonardo noted that some feminists reacted negatively to her design, viewing her as a "female Frankenstein" that would allow males to develop unrealistic ideals of the female body, though also noted that through the character males were also identifying with their feminine side. Australian feminist scholar Germaine Greer in her book The Whole Woman criticized her as the embodiment of male fantasies, calling her a "sergeant-major with balloons stuffed up his shirt". PlayStation Magazine staff commented that Lara Croft could be seen as either a role model for young independent girls or the embodiment of a male adolescent fantasy, though later stated that the character does little to help attract female demographics and was obviously designed with a male audience in mind. The editors also criticized Core Design's attempts to downplay the character's sex appeal in public statements yet continued to release advertisements that prominently featured Lara Croft's sexuality. Angelina Jolie felt that the character's unrealistic proportions gave young girls the wrong impression about what they should look like.
In response to information about the sexualization of video game characters, GamesRadar editor Justin Toweel commented that he couldn't imagine a Tomb Raider game without a sexualized female lead.
Lara Croft is the female heroine in the Tomb Raider series. She is also prominently featured in comic books and feature films. Her first game, Tomb Raider, was a successful and key PlayStation game. Some believe that her success is thanks to the sexually appealing design by Tony Gard, a character design at Core, instead of the quality of the gameplay or depth of the character.
Since her success (which spawned two films starring Angelina Jolie), many action games aimed at a young male audience starring scantily clad heroines have been released.
A list of the many women to have dressed up as Lara Croft.
|Tomb Raider series|
|Tomb Raider - Tomb Raider II - Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft - Tomb Raider IV: The Last Revelation - Tomb Raider Chronicles - The Angel of Darkness - Tomb Raider: Legend - Tomb Raider Anniversary - Tomb Raider: Underworld|
|Tomb Raider: Starring Lara Croft - Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword - Tomb Raider: The Prophecy - Tomb Raider: Puzzle Paradox - Tomb Raider: The Osiris Codex - Tomb Raider: Quest for Cinnabar - Tomb Raider: Elixir of Life - Lara Croft's Poker Party|
|Films: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
Books: Tomb Raider Comics - Tomb Raider: The Amulet of Power - Tomb Raider: The Lost Cult - Tomb Raider: The Man of Bronze
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