Tomb Raider: The new Lara Croft

Lara CroftThe reboot of the classic adventure series Tomb Raider is finally here. Reinventing a character who is one of gaming’s biggest hit machines can’t have been an easy decision.

So far, Tomb Raider games have sold 30 million games since the series was first launched in 1996, earning a massive $1.5bn in game and cinema sales and merchandise. They spawned hit movies starring Angelina Jolie and got lots of men lusting after a virtual video game character.

This time round, Croft is no longer wearing hot pants and has a figure women can relate to.

Rhianna Pratchett, who is the scriptwriter for the new game, said: “She’s still very recognisably Lara Croft – but some of her, ah, attributes have been reduced.”

The new Croft is voiced by actress Camilla Luddington, who is perhaps best known for playing Kate Middleton in an American TV series.

Lara Croft imageIt takes our heroine back to the age of 21 before she had quite so many gadgets and gizmos to fight off her foes. The first Tomb Raider title since 2010, the new Lara Croft game delves into her past.

Along with some of the crew of the ship Endurance, Lara is shipwrecked on a tropical island packed with peril. She must develop into the plucky heroine of the earlier games.

It has a darker feel to it than previously released Lara Croft games, in all senses of the word. Not only does much of the action take place at night, or in the rain, there are also some very sinister moments. You see Lara being forced to make her first ever kill, a tense, violent tussle in which her victim takes several seconds to die.

The game has been delayed but its makers say a later release date was necessary to “make the game we wanted to make”.Tomb Raider

It has been criticised for portraying a more vulnerable side to Lara. Louisa Peacock, writing for the Telegraph, says: “The new Lara Croft may not have the massive boobs of the old version – making her more realistic to look at – but she is now a frightened, vulnerable girl trying to escape from a man’s world.”

Tomb Raider picBut creative director Noah Hughes said that stems from wanting to make the character more human. “We wanted to give the fans something they could enjoy and be proud of, but we also needed to make something that would force lapsed fans and none fans to give Tomb Raider a second look. Re-introducing people to a new, more human version of Lara was our starting point.”

Critical reaction has been good. Metacritic, which aggregates reviews, has so far given the game 86 per cent. And gaming site IGN says: “Tomb Raider is well-written, sympathetic, exciting, beautiful and just incredibly well-made. It is a superb action game that brings a new emotional dimension to one of gaming’s most enduring icons.”

Available in PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 formats, Tomb Raider, from publisher Square Enix is due for release on March 5.