Tomb Raider dev explains how they reinvented a gaming icon

Brian Horton, the art director on the incoming Tomb Raider reboot, has been talking about the difficult balancing act of adding "texture" to gaming's most visible female icon, and how Lara Croft is different to other games, such as Mass Effect, which allow the player character to be female.

"You can choose to make the protagonist a heroine, but that's not the way they market the game, right?" Horton told CVG when discussing the "Femshep" phenomena from Bioware's sci-fi trilogy. "It's marketed as the male Shepard. So for our game, Lara stands alone in an industry of AAA third-person action games, in that it has the female hero."

But this isn't the Lara Croft of the 1990s, with her confident poise and daredevil attitude. The new Lara is younger and more vulnerable, which can lead to more drama, but risks offending those fans who don't want to see her weakened.

"The challenge for us is, that now we're making it more realistic, it starts to conjures up different emotions in people," Horton admits. "They're playing as Lara and she's struggling - you have a mixed emotion. Before she was really just an expression of male energy in a female body. Now she's both female and feminine, but at the same time very strong, has that inner strength, has those smarts - the things you associate with Lara Croft - but also with a little more texture. We're making her vulnerable because it's her first adventure, and she happens to be a woman. That's the distinction."

Lara Croft returns in Tomb Raider on March 5th next year, for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.

Published: 05/12/2012

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