By: Sparsh Bansal (Guest Blogger)
On March 5th, 2013, after a gap of 4 long years, which, to gamers like me, felt like a million years long, returned the badass and fearless Lara Croft in a totally new avatar? It is now the consensus that the new Lara is more human, more relatable and yet strong as opposed to the previous Lara who was just a killing machine with ridiculous physical proportions. To me, this assertion is ridiculous that the old Lara was just a killing machine. It implies that she was nothing else that a character should be. The coldness and unusual fearlessness of the old Lara can’t be seen as a deficiency in the creative genius of the writer who wrote her character but should be seen as a mark of his creative genius. Anybody who has played the previous games without skipping the cut scenes would know that she was intentionally made to show no remorse in the game so that she could be portrayed as a strong and independent woman. Also, there were some subtle indicators that Lara was one of those characters that feel the weight of emotional burden but hide them behind a tough façade to not appear weak. Below is a scene of Tomb Raider: Legend. In the video, it is shown that Lara goes on yet another adventure to Nepal to find a missing artifact which is a key that would put back together Excalibur. The important thing to remember is that the key was her mother’s prized possession. And the scene (from 6:18 to 6:24) below captures her reaction when she recovers the key and it, I hope, would discredit the assertion that Lara’s character was not deep.
Though, showing emotions is no measure of a character’s depth. Many great characters like Sherlock Holmes or Gregory House of the House M.D. fame don’t live up to this ridiculous standard and yet are considered “DEEP” and complex characters.
The advent of the new Tomb Raider sparked a conversation and reawakened forgotten issues. The earlier series was severely criticized for portraying Lara as an object of male fantasy with ridiculous physical proportions whereas Lara 2.0 shows less skin and is more realistic. The character’s classic costume is a turquoise tank top, light brown shorts, calf-high boots, and tall white socks. To answer this we must comprehend the sociological function of fashion and its interaction with mainstream stories in the form of movies, games etc. What I wear or what you wear speaks a lot about your personality and your character. That is one of the many functions of fashion. Lara croft was depicted as the classy, brave, just-for-sport, strong, upper-class and intelligent adventurer. She was certainly more emotionally hardened than the new Lara (but not entirely cold). To show some of these aspects of her personality, it was important for her to wear what she wore. Not that it was the only way to underline those aspects of her personality. But a dissonance between what a characters is wearing and how that character is distasteful.
To say the least, Lara was never supposed to be the damsel in distress. She could give all the James bonds of the world a run for their money.
I’d like to conclude by saying that though the gameplay and graphics of the new game are certainly better, it kind of betrays the spirit of the old game.