Tomb Raider Anniversary: Gaming and WOTD Collision
June 26, 2007
’round about, oh 1996, a little gem of a game called Tomb Raider was released. Featuring immersive 3-D graphics (at least, for its time), Tomb Raider was a challenging mix of adventure and puzzle-solving. The puzzles themselves had many layers of difficulty, as players not only had to figure out how to get from one very precarious point to another, but how to do so using only their character’s acrobatic repertoire (which contained feats of varying difficulty), all the while avoiding the myriad traps and beasties that could reduce their lovely little character to giblets.
And what a character! In the media blitz surrounding the game’s release, Lara Croft, the game’s
buoyant buxom protagonist, ran the gamut from sex symbol to stereotype to riot grrl to spokeswoman/icon for Timberland boots. While this hullabaloo certainly drove sales of the game up into the stratosphere, it also set the stage for the franchise’s downfall, or at least, the rapid decline of its future titles.*
Thanks to the genius of marketing, Lara Croft went from being a wee English crumpet (with big breasts) who explores mysterious (and dangerous) ruins filled with captivating (and deadly) creatures and deadly (really deadly) traps, to a bad-ass wee English crumpet (with bigger breasts) who shoots bad people (who also have huge guns) and blows shit up left and right (yep).
Or so I thought. With the recent release of Tomb Raider: Anniversary, a remake of the original game, I might be hooked once again. Apart from replacing the now clunky graphics of the original with state-of-the-art visuals, which, together with a brand-spanking new physics engine, makes the game’s many environments seem so lifelike that they might as well be stock footage for Planet Earth. The new physics engine has also helped to seriously upgrade the quality of the game’s puzzles; now puzzles can have multiple solutions, and major changes to the environment, such as huge amounts of water or earth moving around (or falling on the player!) can now happen without switching to a pre-rendered cutscene. Thus, for the first time in a bajillion sequels, the developers have finally seen fit to improve the quality of the gameplay as they improve the graphics.
And, as for the question that is guaranteed to wow the ever-important male demographic, just what does Lara look like now? Well, though the new graphics engine includes a number of features that are sure to keep pubescent eyes locked on the computer screen (now, not only can Lara get wet, her boobs bounce just a little bit as she moves!), for once, Lara actually has a figure that could (maybe) be found in nature. Though her breasts remain enormous (perhaps a little less enormous than before), the rest of her body has filled out to accommodate them, particularly her waist and hips. So, while her BMI remains criminally low, she looks like she really could be doing the many back-flips and acrobatics that she does throughout the game.
Which leads us to today’s WOTD. Although Lara could easily be described as “spry” in this new game, as she performs all manner of gymnastic feats with ease, we here at YS have historically used “spry” as a pejorative term to refer to those who manage to remain active despite old age. Instead, we shall characterize this new Lara (old Lara having become progressively more badass and bloodthirsty in past sequels) as being particularly “spunky.” While the word “spunky” may conjure up images of Punky Brewster (or worse), this pleasant adverb actually refers to possessing “METTLE, PLUCK, SPIRIT, or LIVELINESS,” characteristics that this new, plucky incarnation of the character has in abundance.
*A full discussion of just whether Lara represents/represented little more than a pin-up or a strong female lead, or both, or maybe a strong female lead developed by men who have an degree of fear (and or mommy issues) toward their object of desire (ala Quentin Tarantino and the women of Kill Bill), is kind of beyond the scope of this