The new Lara Croft Lara Croft is, in some ways, the gaming equivalent of the Mustang. At her core, she rarely changes, but that doesn't stop fans from
getting all worked up when she gets a new look.
Square-Enix is hoping to shake things up in a more dramatic fashion with the series' next installment, dubbed simply "Tomb
As always, Lara will have a slightly different appearance
(though almost certainly as curvaceous and prone to wearing skintight, skimpy
outfits), but this time we'll learn a bit more about how she became the icon
she is today.
"After a brutal storm destroys the boat she was
traveling 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," the
company announced in a statement revealing the game.
Right now, there's not a lot of other information available
- including when the game will be out and on which platforms you'll be able to
play it. The January issue of Game Informer will have full details.
"Forget everything you knew about Tomb Raider,"
said Darrell Gallagher, who heads the game's developer, Crystal Dynamics. "We
are exploring things that have never been done before in this game."
That's something you might want to take with a grain of
salt. Tomb Raider is hardly the first reboot for the series, which has sold
more than 35 million copies to date.
2003's Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness was meant to take
the series in a darker direction -- and out of the tombs -- but innumerable
bugs made the game a failure. Three years later, Tomb Raider: Legend was
another reboot of sorts, bringing the game back to its roots. Even the "young Lara" bit has been attempted before in both Legend and Tomb Raider Chronicles.
What makes this installment particularly interesting is that
it's the first full Tomb Raider since Square-Enix bought the rights to the
franchise (along with the rest of publisher Eidos) in 2007. (This year's digital
release Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light wasn't a good barometer of the
company's plans, since it had such a low budget.)
The publisher has had tremendous success in Japan with its
Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games, but has had difficulty in capturing
Western audiences. The new Tomb Raider will be its first real attempt to do so.
It faces some stiff competition. It's been years since Tomb
Raider was the go-to action series of the industry. Several other titles
currently vie for the crown, with last year's Uncharted 2 setting a bar that
will be difficult to beat.
Whether this reboot of Tomb Raider succeeds or not, one
thing is certain -- gamers and the media are sure to have long, in-depth
discussions about Lara's most recent round of cosmetic changes. Younger, older,
grittier or made up, she remains one of the industry's most striking figures.