Every gamer knows the story of Lara Croft, one of the most iconic video game heroines of all time. Starting from her first appearance in 1996’s Tomb Raider to her latest incarnation in the Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 2018, she has grown from a clumsy yet determined explorer to an expert adventurer and survivor. Her journey is a testament to never giving up on your dreams and letting fear get in the way.
Iconic Appearance Was Due to Computer Graphic Limitations
In 1996, Tomb Raider became a household name for Sega Saturn and PC gamers. There was no Xbox or PlayStation at the time. Still, the game was revolutionary because of its innovative use of 3D graphics and its control scheme that allowed players to have greater mobility in the virtual world.
But one aspect of the game stood out: Lara herself, who is still considered by many as an all-time favorite heroine. She had a very unrealistic physique in the original Tom Raider game. She had extremely exaggerated triangular breasts. Though the size was intentional, the shape was not. That reason was mainly due to the limitation of 1996 computer graphics. It was much easier to create impressive visuals when designing Lara that way instead of making her look more realistic. The game was rendered with a cumbersome and now outdated polygon graphics system.
The developers sought to make the game as realistic as possible without any of today’s advanced technology that includes motion capture and 3D scanning, as well as advanced facial animation techniques for lifelike realism. They also had to consider lower resolution screens of that time. For example, there was a limit on what colors could be displayed by monitors. The designers were also constrained when it came to animation due to memory limitations. Thus, they had no choice but to use pre-rendered background images for cutscenes.
Computer graphics have come a long way since 1996, a fact that can be noticed solely by looking at Lara’s appearance in the 2018 version of the game. But regardless of what future graphic technologies bring, Lara will always be remembered for being one of the most iconic video game heroines and Tomb Raider as the first-ever video game blockbuster that helped redefine games as being more than just a hobby for kids.
Unexpected Places Where the Franchise Was Taken
The Tomb Raider franchise evolved beyond just video games into other areas such as comics, novels, action films, and even video slots. And recently, MGM announced that it had picked Misha Green to write and direct a new Tomb Raider sequel for HBO starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Lara. “MGM’s Tomb Raider will be released theatrically in the U.S. via the studio’s distribution and marketing joint venture United Artists Releasing, and internationally through Warner Bros,” said a statement published by MGM.
In short, the first Tomb Raider game was ground-breaking for the time. It helped redefine video games beyond just a hobby and into an industry of its own while also changing how people looked at women in gaming. While it had its shortcomings because of limitations with graphic technology, it succeeded where other video games failed by presenting gamers with a new kind of female protagonist that they could relate to: someone who is strong, intelligent, independent, and most importantly, human- flawed but not broken.