Tomb Raider reboot

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http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/a...
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Rebooting the Tomb Raider franchise through an origin story wasn’t so much a choice as an act of necessity, according to Crystal Dynamics. Drastic measures were needed. To build an entirely fresh Lara – a culturally relevant hero worth of the attention that once came so effortlessly – they must break her first. In this new adventure – simply titled Tomb Raider – a younger and inexperienced Lara Croft must endure both physical and emotional trauma to survive.

That actually sounds interesting. I hope they can do a 'Batman Begins' and have the fantastic mystical elements with a grounded in reality feel to the game, rather than going straight for 'save the world from demons with insanely powerful ancient artifacts'.

I heard a rumor to that effect about a month ago and was instantly intrigued. I've never been a TR player and that game sounds very promising.

It's supposed to be an open-world title set on a desolate island off of Japan with a focus on survival.

I'll just be interested to see what their 'mix' is compared to the old TR. The Lara in the GI picture doesn't look like a confident, rich heir, professional athlete, gun-fighting superstar archaeologist that the old one. I wouldn't mind if they built up to that, but I hope it's an actual reboot rather than a new version of the old one, that Legend trilogy was.

Rock Paper Shotgun has some additional details (from a press release?)

“After a brutal storm destroys the boat she was travelling on, a frightened young woman is left washed ashore on an unknown beach. On her own but not alone she has only one goal, to survive.”

So yeah, sounds like a major reboot.

Hypatian wrote:

Rock Paper Shotgun has some additional details (from a press release?)

“After a brutal storm destroys the boat she was travelling on, a frightened young woman is left washed ashore on an unknown beach. On her own but not alone she has only one goal, to survive.”

So yeah, sounds like a major reboot.

Right, they've never really made her frightened. I guess this is like an origins thing.

Hah! Best response from the RPS crowd:

AndrewC wrote:

Poor Lara. Not even being an ageless collection of polygons can save you from being replaced by a younger actress.

She literally looks grittier. This is literally a gritty reboot. I wonder where the "tomb raiding" part comes in.

I thought the "Lara Croft" series was a reboot?

LobsterMobster wrote:

I thought the "Lara Croft" series was a reboot?

That's more of a side step, still the old Lara.

I'm wondering how many potential new 'IPs' have been shoehorned into existing ones because of the sales strength of an established brand.

I'm in. The latest Tomb Raider stuff has been outstanding. Crystal Dynamics has earned my interest in their new direction.

Poor Lara. Looks like her enemy this time around is Botox.

The title to this thread should be Tomb Raider Begins.

or

Why does everything have to be The Dark Knight?

I'll be playing this.

My thoughts on the new character (from what little we've seen of her, anyway):

I've written before about how games *need* stereotypes. A quick sketch: There simply isn't enough room to give good characterizations to many of the characters you meet in most games, given the screen time they have (and particularly the amount of screen time they have before you have to make *choices* based on your judgements of the characters—not something books or movies have to worry about.) This is a problem for female and minority characters, because many of the stereotypes available in the public consciousness for women and minorities are harmful. As a result, any such character in a "main character" role in a game or movie is really important—because in those roles, it is possible to establish new stereotypes and ideals.

The original Lara Croft was a great character, despite her prodigious breasts. Why? Because she's not just a hot female action hero (and there are few enough of those that are main characters in their own right, rather than simply supporting cast), she's an extremely intelligent strong-willed female character. Is that a perfect line-up? No, not really. But it got something out there that wasn't so much out there before—it's just a little easier to paint a picture in someone's mind of a person like that than it used to be, and that's no bad thing.

On to what we see of the new Lara:

The younger features seem pretty much designed to evoke a sense of "young, vulnerable, female". An initial impression of this is rather unfortunate, because "vulnerable" is one of those damaging ideas that most female stereotypes carry, and it's directly contrary to the original Lara stereotype of "omni-competent badass". However, my *expectation* based on the very small amount of information we've heard, is that the story that will be told here is something along the lines of "city kid thrown way the hell into the deep end, learns how to survive in an extremely hostile environment, and perhaps finds a calling in life."

(Evidence: It's clear from the quote about a shipwreck that she's being thrown in the deep end here. Presumably it wouldn't be much of a game if she just rolled over. And I'm assuming that it will eventually tie in to the "tomb raider" concept of archaeology, which means that perhaps the main character is a college archaeology student who learns about a rather more fantastic side of archaeology—or since she looks so young, perhaps she's not in college yet and this experience will guide her towards what will become her passion.)

That kind of growth story is actively good, and not only does it totally turn around the initial negative "vulnerable" aspect to the initial stereotype, it more or less demands that aspect in order to tell the story of growth. It would act as an assertion that "Yes, there's nothing stopping a vulnerable-looking young woman from becoming a force to be reckoned with." And that's a good thing. In a way, it's better than the original Lara: Instead of "a woman with infinite resources and a mysterious past can be a super-smart badass", it's "anybody can, when faced with circumstances that require it, become a badass".

And on that face, it would even be a story that's hard to tell with a male protagonist.

Why? Because we don't have enough good stereotypes of vulnerable young men that are older than 10 years old. (Which is perhaps also a problem, but one that can be addressed another day.)

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Anyway, if they take this the way I think they are going to, it could be quite good. I'm optimistic.

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P.S. Note that none of the stuff I'm talking about above requires any sort of "Prince of Persia: The Emo Within" tone or "edginess".

P.P.S. Actually, now that I think about it some of that wretched tone could come from writers trying desperately to produce a vulnerable young adult male character. Yikes.

Hypatian wrote:

Rock Paper Shotgun has some additional details (from a press release?)

“After a brutal storm destroys the boat she was travelling on, a frightened young woman is left washed ashore on an unknown beach. On her own but not alone she has only one goal, to survive.”

So yeah, sounds like a major reboot.

So they are remaking Trespasser but with Lara Croft this time.

Hypatian wrote:

Yikes.

Good post.
If anything I just hope they make use of the potential here, rather than gravitate towards the safety and security of the old Lara. Christopher Nolan showed how to do a reboot on film, and there's a lot of parallels between Wayne and Croft. Even if it's nothing special in the gameplay, they can do interesting things with the character and have this survival aspect introduce new things to the series. They can show that interesting writing and the character learning and developing through their experiences in the games is worth having.

I'm put off that their instinct when rebooting one of the few gaming franchises to feature a strong female character is to beat the crap out of her and promise to "break her" and make her "endure both physical and emotional trauma." How about a woman who isn't brutalized for our pleasure?

ClockworkHouse wrote:

I'm put off that their instinct when rebooting one of the few gaming franchises to feature a strong female character is to beat the crap out of her and promise to "break her" and make her "endure both physical and emotional trauma." How about a woman who isn't brutalized for our pleasure?

It kinda sounds like you're trying to create some controversy there. There are loads upon loads of games featuring men that undergo the same treatment.

Also, they've been trying the female Indiana Jones thing for years and it's never stuck. I can't blame them for wanting to go in a new direction with an undeniably stale character.

Hypatian, I would say you've got it backwards. It's not the "vulnerable female" that's the stereotype, but the "invulnerable male."

I agree with Blind Evil. They've got this scenario in mind and a female protagonist. In that scenario, the character would be dirty and vulnerable. Are they to break with that reality just because it seems to portray a female as weak? Is that not sexist as well?

If you really want to get angry over feminist issues, why not address the hundreds of other games that defines a "strong female" as one who wears as little clothing as possible and acts like a cocky man? I think that's a far more interesting conversation as it gets into our associations between strength and masculinity, and asks the question of what a strong female - who is feminine - looks like.

The controversy just isn't here. Battered females look battered because battered people look battered.

This looks interesting. I agree with the "too much botox" comment though not necessarily with clockwork's "brutalising for our pleasure" comment.... I mean, i guess Rambo, and Ripley from the Alien franchise are all examples of brutalising your protagonist but allowing them to come through that. I don't think women should have special exemption from that same "hero's story" arc of overcoming difficulty though i also don't believe in torture porn either but i doubt this will head towards that end of the violence spectrum.

I like it. I can't say I care a whole lot that they are wiping the slate on the storyline - never cared about the story in Tomb Raider. I do, however, like Crystal Dynamics so I hope this one pans out. I'm fine with being stranded on an island, as long as said island has an ancient ruin of some sort for me to explore.

The biggest question to me is whether or not Crystal Dynamics is going to have a chance to polish this one to a shine like they did with 'Anniversary', or if it's going to be quick and dirty like 'Underworld'.

I played both, but Anniversary was a far superior game and I'd love to see them return to form.

There's certainly potential for fetishized suffering in the classic slasher movie vein. Whether it's there or not will depend entirely on how gracefully the character get's handled, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's pretty likely they won't handle it with sufficient grace. I assume, though, there won't be a controversy, because ever time the issue gets raise it'll be shouted down.

I didn't get very far in Underworld. It's been a while since I enjoyed a TR. But I also never dismiss anything sight unseen, unless it sounds truly dire.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

There's certainly potential for fetishized suffering in the classic slasher movie vein. Whether it's there or not will depend entirely on how gracefully the character get's handled, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's pretty likely they won't handle it with sufficient grace.

That's where I'm coming from. I'm not saying that they will do it this way, but that's what I expect.

breander wrote:

So they are remaking Trespasser but with Lara Croft this time.

*shudder*

Well, hopefully Lara will have enough sense to hold a rifle with both hands. Ahh, the memories.

I see nothing wrong with this per se. Video games of this genre are still massively dominated by men. Conversely, it's not like they'd ever cast Michael Cera as the lead of a Harlequin Romance novel or Jay Baruchel as Jacob in a reboot of the Twilight franchise. You have to target your consumers; give them what they want. In fact, the last movies those 2 were in were big flops.

Dirt wrote:

I see nothing wrong with this per se. Video games of this genre are still massively dominated by men. Conversely, it's not like they'd ever cast Michael Cera as the lead of a Harlequin Romance novel or Jay Baruchel as Jacob in a reboot of the Twilight franchise. You have to target your consumers; give them what they want. In fact, the last movies those 2 were in were big flops.

Following from that, you could easily angle the character under how companies handle innovation in games. Games such as TR are big money, so I wouldn't really expect the new Lara Croft to be a total weird leap away from the old one, just as I don't expect a brand new type of game out of it, I expect some familiarity for people to grasp onto. I don't really look at big publishers for wild experimentation.

Possibly an issue for another thread, but I'd love to see some good writers gravitate around smaller developers who can take those risks.

LobsterMobster wrote:

Hypatian, I would say you've got it backwards. It's not the "vulnerable female" that's the stereotype, but the "invulnerable male."

I agree with Blind Evil. They've got this scenario in mind and a female protagonist. In that scenario, the character would be dirty and vulnerable. Are they to break with that reality just because it seems to portray a female as weak? Is that not sexist as well?

If you really want to get angry over feminist issues, why not address the hundreds of other games that defines a "strong female" as one who wears as little clothing as possible and acts like a cocky man? I think that's a far more interesting conversation as it gets into our associations between strength and masculinity, and asks the question of what a strong female - who is feminine - looks like.

The controversy just isn't here. Battered females look battered because battered people look battered.

Are you confusing what I said with what someone else said?

In fact, yes, I think it's both stereotypes. The "invulnerable male" makes presenting a "growth out of weakness" story difficult to tell with a male protagonist without doing a tremendous amount of character development to make people understand the character. The "vulnerable female" stereotype, on the other hand, supports the story from the very beginning, because we already have this cultural attachment to that idea, and will "fill in the blanks" of the character in a way that makes sense to us.

The "vulnerable female" is in the context of the traditional high-adventure tag-along female—the damsel in distress, essentially. In older genre pieces, this kind of character would often be the romantic interest (the princess of Mars). More recently, think about Newt in Aliens—on the one hand, she's a survivor, on the other, she's a vulnerable little girl that we all want to protect. She exposes the parenting instinct. Now age her to 15 and throw her on a shipwrecked boat and... yeah, still a lot of parenting type attitudes. (Think about the recent story about the young girl who wanted to sail around the world—how many people spoke up in anger and outrage at the very idea of endangering someone?)

The dangerous thing here is when a large proportion of the available stereotypes have that feature. If most female stereotypes that you see (and can be drawn to easily see) assume that a female character is helpless, vulnerable, a damsel in distress, then that's damaging to women as a whole.

What I'm saying in this case is that while it's easy to look and see that (and by extension, the "fetishized suffering" thing) in the face we have so far. But at the same time, the glimpses of story we've got and what we know of the Tomb Raider games suggests that this isn't where the story is going. It isn't a static story of a professional victim who is doomed to be a victim for her entire life. It's the story of someone thrown into a situation that they're unprepared to handle and who learns to deal with that situation and even thrive in it.

It does, in fact, have the potential of taking the role of "vulnerable female" and turning it on its head to show the role of "self-realized female". And that's a very cool thing.

Of course, it may turn out that I'm wrong about where they're going... but I think it's unlikely. I don't think that "New Lara" is going to be riding motorcycles off cliffs while gunning down tigers within a few hours of landing in the jungle—but that's part of the point: "Old Lara" is so far from being human that she's really impossible to relate to as a human being. I *do* think that by the end of the first game, however, she's going to be swinging on ropes and bouldering up cliff faces with the best of them.

In short: I think the new Lara is going to be great.

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Final note: My original statement of this idea about stereotypes and games was talking about why it's important that we don't let game publishers do things like force developers to change their protagonists from female to male. And the reason is this: A main character in any story will *always* have the potential to break stereotypes. This is the one character that gets the most screen time, that has the most chance to do something novel. They still use stereotypes—but they can use them in opposition or combination just as easily as using them in the obvious ways.

It is only when we have main characters who are female or minorities that we have the opportunity to define *new* stereotypes for those groups, and because of that it's rather sad whenever an opportunity gets passed by and we get another macho white action hero with his clingy love interest and his sidekick the spooky hoodoo black guy.

More: http://www.gameinformer.com/b/featur...

One thing I like the sound of is that the character animations change as you progress through the game, as Lara develops. Animation is one of those things that is really overlooked in games that can portray a lot, and when games are down to the level of character acting where you can pay attention to expressions and the tone of the voice acting because the developer/writer put detail there to find, it's sometimes a bit disappointing to have one canned set of animations for the gameplay under all circumstances. It could be interesting to see what they make of this game.

Awesome attitude on the commentary, and I definitely do like the looks of the full body picture on the second page.

I am officially non-trepidaciously looking forward to this game.

I actually thought Underworld revitalized this character nicely.
But this sounds better, and like its got better legs, so to speak

Yeah, I enjoyed Underworld.

Bonus points to them for the actual human woman proportions on the character redesign.

In a perfect world this would be as good as Uncharted with more of a skew toward puzzle/platforming than combat.

I suppose you could say Legend/Underworld were great updates of the old TR, taking the best of the Core Design games. I think the new one will have a fair amount of new concepts to the series such as the survival, but a lot of familiarity to it and introducing elements they want for later in the series.

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