Lara’s Killing Gods

By John Walker on August 16th, 2008 at 12:59 pm.

LARA VS CTHULHU!

The last time Tomb Raider Underworld news came up, I found myself going off on my rant about how stupid people are for not being excited about a consistently excellent game series (apart from that one), that’s only getting better with each new release.

My frustrations haven’t waned. I’m seeing a couple of current mags writing previews of Underworld, saying it looks good, but they’re getting tired of the games now. Tired of an ever-improving, top-notch platforming series with a stupendous cast, excellent writing, and the best acrobatic fun available? Then you’re not a gamer! Bah! Anyway, in the trailer below, Underworld looks bloody excellent, and more than that, it’s picking up where Legend left off.

Curse your idiotic swimming sections, Lara!

Zip, Alistair and Amanda are all back, with a peculiar moment in the trailer where Lara is apparently threatening to kill Zip. Which is odd. And the imdb credits suggest that Lara’s mum, Lady Amelia Croft, will be appearing once more. In fact, all of Crystal Dynamic’s first cast are back, so I’m hopeful for a direct follow-on from the cliffhanger ending that Legend teased us with. Many hints about that, including references to Avalon, below.

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60 Comments »

  1. Heliocentric says:

    i met a swinging rope in legend i was meant to be able to swing. I couldn’t because it glitched so i couldn’t continue. I skipped that level met another in a later level near the start. Gave up. Constantly improving?

  2. Heliocentric says:

    i’m just being bitter. The game is awesome. :-)

    Bring back the people chattering on in your ear from the manor.

  3. Dominic White says:

    Heliocentric: Dunno what went wrong there – can’t say I encountered any problematic glitches in either Legend or Anniversary, and I played through both twice.

    I’m really, really happy about what they’ve done with the Tomb Raider series. After the original first game all those years ago, it just got steadily more convoluted and overly difficult, and then they started shoehorning more playable characters in, retconning plots, etc – and it all came tumbling town.

    Enter Crystal Dynamics, hot from the Legacy of Kain series with a new angle. They reboot the series, and start it off with a relatively short and easy ‘introductory’ adventure – Legend – to get people back into things. Then Anniversary, which is one of the better remakes out there, which was longer and tougher and more involved.

    If Underworld is of the rough same scale and toughness as Anniversary, but with the graphical lovelyness and plot involvement of Legend, then I will be very happy.

  4. CrashT says:

    Giant spiders… lovely. :(
    They are the reason I never finished the first Thief.

  5. Dominic White says:

    Don’t worry! Just imagine that they’re giant scorpions with atrophied pincers and stingers and you’ll feel better.

    Or not.

  6. CrashT says:

    I think the fact I’ll have a huge pair… of hanguns… should help.

  7. teo says:

    I’m really excited for it
    I only played the demo of Legend and I thought it put too much emphasis on the combat. Anniversary was amazing though. I hope they can keep the difficulty up

  8. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    I never could get into Tomb Raider, no matter how much I tried. The last episodes in particular seem to revolve around this obtuse idea of pressing one button to perform awesometastic acrobatics, or having these acrobatic moments feel completely out of place, or of having ludicrous area design (enemies in ruins chase after Lara but are fine with gigantor panthers wandering about? really?).

    Maybe I’m being cynical here or demanding too much of the game. Maybe it only serves to appease that demographic who not only want to see flying mammaries but feel as if they were in posession of them, in a Strange Daysesque kind of way.

    If I were to give this another shot what title would people recommend?

  9. CrashT says:

    Anniversary.

  10. Kato says:

    I just clapped in front of my computer.

    They’re continuing Legend’s story, it appears, and that makes me happy, as Legend was one of the few games that held my attention long enough for me to finish it.

    Love it! :D

  11. Pavel says:

    I need the hemma, to kill a god.
    Oh god.

  12. Ash Firelord says:

    I think it’s just become “the cool thing” to bad-mouth every new Tomb Raider. Sure, it’s had it’s low points ( I still cringe when I think of Angel of Darkness), but overall it’s a good, fun, non-generic series.

    It particularly annoys me when people trash Tomb Raider because of Lara’s breasts / ass, accusing it of being representative of the medium’s immaturity.

    Because bald, muscular space-marines swearing all the time while blasting humans / aliens / etc into bloody pulps of gore are so much more mature than breasts.

  13. The Hammer says:

    I’ve said it a couple of times before, but this Tomb Raider game I’m actually really looking forward to. I haven’t bought once since Tomb Raider 2, and so here’s me, practically foaming at the mouth for another hit at the series.

  14. Optimaximal says:

    If anything, Lara’s become more realistically proportioned after the backlash when they revealed that they digitally enhanced Angelina Jolies boobs in the films because decided they weren’t ‘big enough’.

    She’s possibly the most well-rounded (*DING*) female game character after Alyx Vance & Jade from BG&E.
    Yes, the catsuit in Chronicles & (to a lesser extent, as it was tastefully done and quite amusing) the dress in Legend were a bit of fan wank, but she’s more developed (*DING*) as a video game entity than most female characters that come from stuff like Japanese RPGs or the latest greatest shooter.

    I’ll also admit to having started caring (in a narrative sense) about her surviving in Legend, whereas when playing Tomb Raider 2, many an hour was enjoyed watching her plummet to her death.

    What?

  15. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @Ash Firelord:

    Not sure if you’re addressing my post, but if that is the case there’s some clear misunterpretation of what I said previously. The reason why I dislike Tomb Raider has nothing to do with whatever may be considered “the cool thing” nowadays, but with my own outlook as a gamer. I can easily have the same reaction towards other series and am generally critical of most games I’ve been playing ever since the 8-bit days.

    As for whether the exploitation of Lara’s sexuality is representative of the medium’s immaturity, that should go without saying – hence why I didn’t. “Bald, muscular space-marines swearing all the time while blasting humans / aliens / etc into bloody pulps of gore” are just as immature and juvenile – or rather, aimed at an immature and juvenile audience, but why should I be talking about those *now* when the topic is Tomb Raider and not, say, Unreal Tournament 3?

  16. Paul Moloney says:

    I couldn’t get past that first obstacle in the Tomb Raider Aniversary demo either – the yoke with cogged wheels. And I try both mouse/keyboard and gamepad. And I finished TR1 on the PS1, so it’s not like I’m inherently shite at these types of games. Am I missing something, or just getting old, cantankarous and impatient?

    Bah.

    P.

  17. sbs says:

    Legend is available for free on Gametap, I’m almost tempted. The last Tomb Raider I played was II, and then someone showed me Quake II and I fell in love with FPS, never looking back!
    …Oh, Quake II, I love you so!

    Anyway, definitely gonna try Legend later, hopefully it’s not too awful playing it on Keyboard!?

  18. Tom says:

    Stopped playing after TR2 (which I thought I was magic), however this one is looking good. Plus, digital it may be, her ass does look stunning in this game.
    (I’ve just discovered how pleasant and relaxing it is to play a female in Mass Effect and pan the camera down to the floor and watch your ass and you walk/run. God I need a shag! God bless interweb anonymity. I can talk digital ass and no one knows it me! Edit: shit, just spotted my sig pic!)

    One thing though: Currently I’m running through a Prince of Persia marathon (half way through the 2nd – don’t know why everyone hates it so much) and this looks like a doppelgänger in different clothes. Not that that’s a bad thing.

  19. Dominic White says:

    sbs – Ideally, the newer Tomb Raiders (Legend and Anniversary) are best played with a gamepad (analogue control is ALWAYS best for platforming), but they actually do have a fairly reasonable mouse/keyboard setup as well.

    It’s well worth checking them out. They’re by a completely different studio than the original games, and play quite differently. Just keep in mind that Legend is much faster, simpler, more action-oriented and shorter than Anniversary.

  20. Ash Firelord says:

    @ Diogo Ribeiro:

    Actually, my post was a a comment on the general attitude towards the franchise. If you didn’t like the gameplay or game design, that’s not my problem, it’s your taste.

    I have a problem with the people that use the boobies as an excuse to trash a perfectly fine game, when games with equally (if thematically different) immature visuals are considered perfectly normal.

    In fact, I do think that sexualization is a step above ultra-violence as far as maturity is concerned, but that’s just me.

  21. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @Ash Firelord:

    My apologies then, as your post was not directed at me, although it touched on the issue I brought up. However, I must reiterate that my criticism was not born out of a notion to be cool – I was never the cool kid in school and have largely failed at that during the rest of my life :)

    What happens with Lara Croft is that it went from an over-sexualized character into something a bit more refined, but the audience still remains largely immature. In the end it’s a tricky thing to sort out. For instance, I’ve followed your website on and off for a while (being a portuguese gamer and all ;) ), and when I chanced upon a thread about Tomb Raider Underworld, I was clearly in the presence of an audience less mature than I’d hope to encounter. Are they representative of all of Tomb Raider’s fans (or even of your site)? Clearly not, but it does rekindle the notion that the stereotypes of “13 year olds with sweaty palms”, as Yathzee Croshaw so endearingly named them, does have a very real example to draw from.

    I do agree that sexual themes can bring out the kind of dissenters that miss the point. On the other hand, I don’t think most developers consider sexualization in a way that benefits, rather than hinders, the perception of the public eye. Scantily clad females with nearly non-existent wardrobes posing against a medieval fantasy backdrop, along with males gifted with impossible and bulging muscles, are obviously sexualized but are gratuitously so and herein lies the problem – sexual themes are all well and good, but there’s a line between sexual themes or sexualization in a meaningful way, and the exploitation of said themes. Look at Dead or Alive – while there might be a good game buried in there, who can deny that most of its success is due to fan service?

    Lara Croft, as an icon, is rendered much more tasteful now then in the past, but there is still a very pervasive intention of having her tug at an audience’s basic instincts. There’s always coverage about who the next model is, for instance, and I’ve seen official pictures and adverisements where the character is clearly meant to be a sexualized doll. With many developers following the trend back when she was first created, is it any wonder why most lists that concentrate on “celebrating” the Top Female Characters in videogames sport the likes of Bloodrayne, Kasumi (of DoA fame) and Lara Croft, but rarely mention SHODAN or GLaDOS?

    This isn’t to say that the very quality of the game somehow suffers from this, and I am willing to honestly reconsider my opinion of the series now that I’ve been recommended Anniversary (although I suspect my overly critical outlook may still influence my enjoyment of it), but even then, I can’t shake away the feeling that’s been brought up several times, of how even certain camera annoyances happen pop up due to stressing out the physical traits of the character.

  22. tmp says:

    Lara Croft, as an icon, is rendered much more tasteful now then in the past

    Is she really….

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/ff/LaraCroftTombRaiderEvoWUnderw.jpg

    between this and sequences like at 1:50 in this trailer, i’d have to say i see no real difference as far as taste (or lack thereof) is concerned.

  23. Mman says:

    “I’ve followed your website on and off for a while (being a portuguese gamer and all ;) ), and when I chanced upon a thread about Tomb Raider Underworld, I was clearly in the presence of an audience less mature than I’d hope to encounter. Are they representative of all of Tomb Raider’s fans (or even of your site)?”

    You’re really taking random “boobs!” comments (from my experience with such threads) to be coming from fans? Many hardcore fans I know of (as in ones that hang out on sites dedicated to the series and stuff), including me, find stuff like articles that spend half the time talking about lara’s boobs rather than the actual game even more obnoxious than other people do.

    The trailer is pretty excellent (although it would be nice to get a HD version soon), and its laid to rest my fears from the dodgy first footage of the game.

  24. SenseiJinx says:

    Ribeiro: I don’t know if the likes of GlaDOS and SHODAN deserve a place on those lists, based off of the fact that they’re artificial intelligences that just so happen to have a female language synthesis…

  25. yutt says:

    How is Tomb Raider centering on an attractive woman any less mature than nearly every major motion picture revolving around attractive men and women?

    Did you criticize Lord of the Rings because Viggo Mortensen was too sexy?

    Some gamers wax far too philosophical with whether their entertainment is “mature” or not. Pop-media of every form revolves around hyper-sexualized characters of both sexes. If anything, video games are *less* focused on this than most media.

    Look at your average female actress/news caster/singer. Attractive people sell.

  26. Jonas says:

    Damnit, giant spiders! I gotta get a hold of Rossignol and do some arachnophobia lobbyism or something.

  27. Smee says:

    As long as there’s a mission even halfway approaching the brilliance of Tesla’s abandoned research facility in Legend I’ll be happy.

  28. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @yutt:

    Your post would make more sense if the discussion was about how the problem has manifested itself across all other media rather than just one singled out example in one single media. Not that your post doesn’t make a few good points, but why is it that people feel the need to bring other media as if over-sexualization in videogames should be any less poignant or worth less of a discussion because every other media does the same?

  29. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @SenseiJinx:

    Good point, and I’ll concede my example was far less effective than what I was trying to make it. However, that particular opinion is grounded on how said lists often mention a characters’ personality (right next to a picture of a scantily clad woman just so we can see her personality better, natch :) ).

    But here’s an example – I’ve yet to come across a list that mentions Ravel from Planescape: Torment. She was a complex character, a woman whose personality was fragmented with longing and hatred for the Nameless One, and with more personality than whatever’s been seen in any videogame in recent history. But then, we’re mostly likely to get that character from Jenericho who is called “fiercely independent”, which means the game references she’s a lesbian every ten minutes, as a character worth mentioning.

  30. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @Mman:

    I’m pointing out how the stereotype isn’t devoid of a factual basis. “Random posts” on a forum are no more or less valid an example than, say, knowing actual people who think like this, of which I’ve met quite a share.

  31. Ginger Yellow says:

    Like Diogo, I could never really get into Tomb Raider, despite several efforts. Could someone explain what it has that, say, Uncharted doesn’t?

  32. Mman says:

    If it really was the same as Uncharted, then how could you get in to that but not Tomb Raider (which is what you seemed to imply)?

  33. Dominic White says:

    Ginger Yellow: Because Uncharted is an almost Gears of War-esque shooter with occasional platforming bits inbetween, wheras Tomb Raider is a puzzle/platform/exploration game with occasional combat.

    It’s like comparing Call of Duty and Operation Flashpoint. They’re both technically first-person shooters with similar settings, but beyond that they’re completely different games.

    For the record, I really like both.

  34. SenseiJinx says:

    Ribeiro: Yeah, I understand your point. I think I was just being a bit anal. :)

    But yeah, I know where you’re coming from.

  35. Ginger Yellow says:

    Maybe, but I found the platforming better in Uncharted and the puzzling in Tomb Raider obtuse.

  36. Möller says:

    Fucking spiders! :(

    Maybe we should start a petition to stop putting in giant spiders in games(or anywhere else). :D

  37. Heliocentric says:

    someone needs a daddy long legs enemy in a game that actually moves like a daddy long legs, most game moths move like angry clouds. daddy long legs are far more menacing than spiders, they have deadly poison (in theory).

  38. El Stevo says:

    @Heliocentric

    Daddy longlegs do NOT have deadly poison. And that includes each of the three species that go by the name: crane flies (not venomous), harvestmen (not venomous) and cellar spiders (venomous and with fangs long enough to penetrate human skin, but the only effect is a mild burning sensation).

  39. El Stevo says:

    And while I’m on the subject, the average person swallows zero spiders a year in their sleep, chewing gum takes no longer than any other food to pass through the digestive system, and if you cut an earthworm in half you get two pieces of dead worm.

  40. Pace says:

    Let’s not forget everybody’s favorite: water does not really swirl the other way down the drain in the Southern hemisphere.

  41. Heliocentric says:

    i can catch a spider in seconds. DLL’s always have me give up. That’d make good enemy ai. Thats all i’m saying. As for the cellar spiders, i could be allergic to the venom, hence “in theory”.

  42. Lee Kelly says:

    If I am going to spend 10-20 hours looking at some character’s backside then it might as well be an attractive backside. That is a principle for which there are few exceptions, primarily those played from a first-person perspective.

  43. Alex says:

    If I am going to spend 10-20 hours looking at some character’s backside then it might as well be an attractive backside.

    This comment always pops up in discussions like these. Who really spends much time looking at a character’s behind while playing? I must be doing something wrong.

  44. Ash Firelord says:

    Well Diogo, I can’t really guess at what “hardcore” Tomb Raider fans see the character of Lara Croft as. Mostly because I find the notion of a “hardcore” Lara Croft fan a bit creepy, to be honest. :D

    While I agree with your assessment of oversexed stereotypes, I would argue that female leads are still rare enough that each one counts positively towards the game, if only because it’s different from the cliched macho stereotype drivel that passes as a main character so often these days.

    We also need to face that we are talking about entertainment, even when it’s smart entertainment. Yorda is no sexpot, but would Ico be as memorable if you were escorting a Ravel-like old hag? I don’t think so. You gave Ravel’s example, and it was indeed a remarkable character, but that said, in that same game, you had two strong and cleverly written female characters, Fall-From-Grace and Annah; the first was quite oversexualized and the second I always thought was damn sexy for a tiefling. That did never detract from their value as characters; if anything, it added to it.

    While I don’t think every woman in gaming should be beautiful, I do welcome beautiful women in games – especially if the alternative is Marcus Phoenix.

  45. Lee Kelly says:

    This comment always pops up in discussions like these. Who really spends much time looking at a character’s behind while playing? I must be doing something wrong.

    Well, in most third-person videogames the lead character’s behind is quite hard to miss, occupying the centre of the screen for the majority of gameplay. By the end of most I am intimately familiar with every crease, curve, seam and thread of their posterior, whether aesthetically appealing or not. There is no harm done to my experience by having something more pleasent to look at, and the lovely Lara has never disappointed in that regard.

  46. Nilocy says:

    I’m just wondering did this piece of writing draw any influence from ‘Pure Pwnages’ new episode? Yeah, I’m sort of looking forward to this game, the previous ones were ok, this one shouldn’t be as bad as them.

  47. JulianP says:

    “Excellent writing”? Are you mad?

  48. Mman says:

    “Maybe, but I found the platforming better in Uncharted and the puzzling in Tomb Raider obtuse.”

    Why did you have to ask that question when you already have the answer? It’s a different type of game that doesn’t appeal to you.

    “Well Diogo, I can’t really guess at what “hardcore” Tomb Raider fans see the character of Lara Croft as. Mostly because I find the notion of a “hardcore” Lara Croft fan a bit creepy, to be honest.”

    Contrary to the big misconceptions that have been spread Tomb Raider fan != Lara Croft fan, not that people are precluded from being both.

  49. Darth Benedict says:

    Violence is way more mature than sex because girls are icky and have cooties.

  50. Phil White says:

    The games improve, the concept remains. I just can’t find the enthusiasm, much as I’d like to.