Lets take a trekk back in time to the mid 90's, 1996 was the year that games developers Core Design released one of six action-adventure games featuring or starring the games industries most iconic heroine for many generations to come.
Lara Croft started jumping around our box television sets hoping to bring something new and exciting to the table and while that may have been the case at the time, multiple indecisive opinions arose soon after it's release.
Even though the first game sold over seven million copies worldwide and was considered widely influential, when asking ten individual people what they thought and why they thought what they did, things became semi clearer.
As it turns out Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider series itself was a lot like marmite, you either loved them or hated them, others remain undecided but the one that is most concerning are the people who claim to hate the game but secretly play it and enjoy it, apparently it wasn't considered cool to like Tomb Raider, even to this day that still goes for younger generation gamers.
Lara became so popular in 1998 that she began a large sponsorship with Lucozade, the commercials/adverts would feature Lara stuck in a dangerous situation where upon her bottle of Lucozade would help provide a solution. This was most certainly the biggest sponsorship of Lara's career, the ads would at first show her drinking original flavor but further ads revealed Berry and Apple. And while most of the ads featured a computerized Lara from the actual game franchise, others used actors impersonating her using slogans such as "Gone a bit Lara."
It's no mystery that the hatred towards Tomb Raider is due mostly towards the game-play, Lara unfortunately possessed the bone structure of a child's plastic bike that can't turn left or right forcing the player to halt at every corner/corridor just to turn and face her in the right direction and continue on her journey. Yes you could press a single button and Lara would perform a quick turn flip but not in any direction you wished but rather the opposite way to which she was facing, as frustrating as that sounds, there's more.
It would appear that Lara was mentored by a disembodied head seeing as that was the only feature that worked well on her, she would of done great as a lookout but try to use her for anything else and she seems to stumble and trip over her own feet. Jumping from ledge to ledge was considered in layman's terms a nightmare especially since she would jump too high, not high enough or just not grab hold and fall into a spike pit or concrete floor. Sometimes she just wouldn't jump at all, again falling down to a splattery death. Enemy encounters were certainly unforgettable, everyone was certainly getting their hair off with with the fact it took just under two magazines to kill one human (I counted) when if equipped with a melee weapon they can knock your health meter down to half with two swings. But the number one problem that got under everyone's skin was the camera angles, Oh yes venturing through the tombs, camera's set directly behind Lara but come to a long jump however then it's a completely different story, the camera will be set either from the side, up above or down below making it hard to determine a good position to jump from.
Same goes for the vehicle section that all sound similar and drive as well as Lara walks and at certain points the camera will pan round to another spot, normally after a jump.
The hatred towards Lara stemmed from the fact that she had no real personality and the voice of a low budget radio show hostess, she's difficult to relate to and to make sense of. Tomb Raider never was a game for many cutscenes up until Last Revelation, Chronicles and Angel of Darkness, where upon a story was starting to reveal itself linking the last 3 games together. And showing a more charismatic Lara than before but still plain without emotion but still with a flirtatious attitude toward her male rivals and voiced by Jonell Elliot who replaced Judith Gibbins who voiced Lara in Tomb Raiders 1-3.
By Angel of darkness we'd hoped to of seen a new side to Lara as she's wanted for the murder of her former mentor Werner Von Croy, but soon after she discovers his body she shows no feeling what so ever even given the circumstances they were both in in Last Revelation Werner was still her mentor but all Lara could do was stand their and look at her blood soaked hands with a face that said "what the hell is this red stuff that i'm covered in."
In 2001 Angelina Jolie starred in Tomb Raider the movie as Lara Croft which as of October 2010 grossed $335 million worldwide. Reviews unfortunately were largely negative, criticizing sloppy direction and video game-esque action-sequences, but of course praising Angelina Jolie's performance. Reviews were particularly similar in the 2003 sequel Tomb Raider and the Cradle of life but critics noticed an improvement in the action sequences which led to more praise for Jolie.
Tomb Raider was signed over to British owned U.S studio Crystal Dynamics where in 2006 Tomb Raider Legend was released with a whole new story and a whole new Lara, voiced by Keeley Hawes, a reboot one that wasn't very well thought out.
Crystal Dynamics also reinvented the first Tomb Raider game using it for the new story of Lara in Legend calling it Tomb Raider Anniversary, still set in 1996 however with a young Lara about 25 years old. By Legend this would have made her 31 and then by Tomb Raider Underworld the last of the story line that was released in 2008, looking at it realistically Lara would have been 33 years old by Underworld.
The story of Crystal Dynamics franchise, like the game-play very linear, Lara is in search for answers as to the disappearance of her mom who is trapped in Avalon and is possibly still alive. Rather simplistic really, the story doesn't really go anywhere from there.
The game-play in Legend and Anniversary is exactly the same Lara moves more loosely but like Core Design we still face the same problems the camera angles, enemies taking a while to die, vehicle section. It's as if they haven't bothered changing much just making it more straight forward and Linear as well as multiple quick time events appear along the way.
Not essentially Tomb Raider, Lara Croft and the guardian of Light was released on Playstation Network, Xbox Life as well as other devices but not actually in game retail stores, no longer published by Eidos anymore, no this time Square Enix have gotten their hands into Lara Croft. (Who hasn't?..... No seriously i can't think of anyone she hasn't shot in the face.) Set with a fixed camera view point throughout the entire game single player and Co-op for that matter. Guardian of light became vastly popular selling 98,000 copies on Xbox Live within the first six weeks. All thanks to it's whole new retold game-play and RPG elements.
A whole lot of already known truths about Tomb Raider and Lara Croft but it never hurts to recap especially since now Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have released another reboot of Tomb Raider, one that shows promise, and hours of satisfying game-play. Critics are already more than pleased with what it had to offer. But however bad or good it's fair to say that Tomb Raider is still unforgettable and Lara still remains number one heroine of all time no matter how many ups and downs. I myself personally have an odd relationship with the franchise i don't exactly hate it but i can't really say i like it but throughout the years i have kept a close eye on Lara and the entire franchise because deep down there is potential, it just needs to be realized.