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 MULTIFORMAT FEATURE

10 Lara Croft Makeover Suggestions

Eidos take note
Product: Tomb Raider: Underworld | Format: DS, Mobile, PSP | Genre: Action, Adventure, Platform
 
Tomb Raider: Underworld Multiformat, thumbnail 1
After sales of Tomb Raider: Underworld fell short of Eidos’s prediction, forcing the publisher to ruefully approach its debtors to arrange repayment, it seems that Lara Croft is likely to get a makeover before the next game comes out.

Speaking with The Times, Eidos’s chief financial officer Robert Brent said, “We need to look at everything, as we develop the next game. Look at how Batman changed successfully, from the rather sad character of the Michael Keaton era to the noir style of The Dark Knight."

But Lara has already undergone some cosmetic changes, including the notable reduction of her breast size for Tomb Raider: Legend in an attempt to broaden her appeal. It didn’t work. Clearly the titivations need to be more dramatic than mere changes to her chest fat quantities. Here’s what we suggest.

10 Lara Croft Makeover Suggestions


The Dark Croft



You can’t really do better than to take Mr Brent at his word. Batman’s renaissance was one of moral complexity, and it’s about time Lara’s character was held up to the same scrutiny film makers have started applying to our superheroes.

What's Ms Croft doing raiding all those tombs for, anyway? What gives her the right? And why, when she encounters species hitherto thought to be extinct, does she calmly execute them? What drives her to plunder and kill in this way?

The next Tomb Raider game needs to be grittier and more probing. We need to know that beneath those gigantic breasts there beats the heart of a tortured woman, driven to violence by some childhood trauma.

Plus she already has a massive house and a butler, so it wouldn’t even be plagiarism.




LittleBigLara



Like the magnificent creatures she so often slaughters, Lara Croft is a dinosaur, scarcely different from when she first descended into that Peruvian tomb more than a decade ago. While she’s been underground, the world has changed. It’s all about user-generated content.

This being the case, Eidos seriously needs to consider LittleBigLara, a game in which you can create your own levels with a user-friendly toolset and share your creations with the world.

Of course, the online functionality in LittleBigLara will be broken, most of the user-generated will be utter piffle, and of those that work a goodly proportion will be destroyed by Eidos for copyright infringement.

But it’s the future.




Pride & Lara



Eidos is looking to make Lara Croft more ‘female friendly’, and if there’s one thing females invariably adore it’s Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen’s smouldering story of sisters who want to marry rich men so that they don’t have to work for a living.

The only sensible way to do this is in the RPG genre, with the object being to increase your social rank through your actions in the game. Handily, Lionhead Software has provided a template in Fable 2, and I see no reason to dispense with any of that game’s features (aside of course from the game-breaking bugs.)

So, the Lara Croft of the future could be a woman who runs around the countryside killing bandits, getting married, working in a bar, and farting for laughs until she accumulates enough fame to marry a gentleman.




Midget Croft



Of course, Lara did ‘go small’ for a spell in Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, but the series has never taken the opportunity to represent that most woefully underrepresented part of society: little people.

Eidos should take the PC bull by the horns at this stage and make Lara Croft a midget, combining small size with gymnastic prowess to make her the ultimate video game heroine.

I should probably stop this one here.




CroftStar



Gamers decry it, families love it, but there’s no doubt that the world of video games has become an increasingly casual place. People simply don’t want to spend their time working out complicated puzzles and shooting wolves.

They want to rock out.

The premise for this next evolution in the series is simple. Get the license for a range of songs by Avril Lavigne, Kate Perry, Katie Melua, Nora Jones, and Amy Winehouse, and then dress Lara up as each of these women and have her dancing in the background while you sing into a microphone peripheral.




Lara’s Edge



One of the most innovative titles of 2008, Mirror’s Edge was widely regarded as a heroic failure. Despite its flaws, however, it provided an excellent blueprint, and so it’s Lara’s opportunity to do what she does best: steal it.

The next Tomb Raider game could be a first-person parkour sim in which Lara needs to negotiate the usual range of tombs, caverns, and ruins by identifying footholds and then manoeuvring quickly and with skill.

Of course, Mirror’s Edge and Tomb Raider already have elements in common. Both star women, and both have combat that’s widely considered to be pointless. Faith no doubt borrowed heavily from Lara, so it’s time for her older sister to call in a favour.




Croft Fu Master



Lara’s enormous breasts have been her making and her undoing, and they sit comfortably above gameplay as the most prominent Tomb Raider-related talking point. They get the praise when things go right, and they get the blame when things go wrong.

Fortunately, there’s still one genre in which generous proportions are welcomed: fighting. And though she tends to prefer firearms, Lara Croft would be a natural fighter, using her gymnastic ability and superhuman strength to excellent effect in a genre that, like the Tomb Raider series, is flagging slightly.

Plus, next to SoulCalibur 3's Ivy she’d look virtually breastless.




Lara’s Creed



Some would say that what Tomb Raider really lacks as a franchise is imagination. Since 1996, the series has dwelt in the same array of locations and required the player to execute the same set of actions. What it needs is a bit of high concept.

Concepts don’t get much higher than that employed in Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft’s game about a man who inhabits the body of one of the many hundreds of people from whose genetic line he is descended so that he can change history.

The beauty of this premise is that it would open up time, giving Eidos the option to place Lara in ancient Rome so that she could kill gladiators, mediaeval England so that she could kill Frenchmen, and the Jurassic era so that she could kill dinosaurs.




Tomb Racer



Despite being the world’s most successful and acclaimed in-house development studio Nintendo really dropped the ball with Mario Kart Wii, the latest in the popular Mario Kart series. And when somebody drops a ball, it’s there for somebody else to pick up.

Tomb Racer would be an excellent reconcilement of hardcore and softcore gaming, bringing maturity to the Kart racing genre and fun to the Tomb Raider franchise. True to tradition, one of the racers would be a dinosaur.

The karts would be Tuk Tuks and sleighs dragged by huskies, and the environments would be temples and jungles lifted from the Tomb Raider franchise, but the core gameplay would be the same: race as well as you possibly can, and then get screwed over by viciously unfair power-ups acquired by the most incompetent player, who then goes on to win.




Grand Theft Lara



Although its early explosion of perfect scores wasn't borne out in long term praise or a particularly significant showing in the recent Game of the Year lists, there’s no doubt that the GTA franchise is still one of the biggest going.

If Lara is going to jump on a bandwagon, what bandwagon could be better than one that allows her to steal cars, accumulate illicit wealth, and take her cousin bowling?

There’s a niche here. There are too few female characters in criminal roles, or ones with real psychological depth. In Grand Theft Lara, the kleptomaniacal aristocrat would get divested of her wealth, deposited in a vast, unforgiving city, and drawn into a web of criminal associations.

Essentially, it would be GTA IV in all respects except you’d be able to make money working as a lap dancer.
 

Reviewer photo
Rob Hearn 12 January 2009
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