Girlz 'N' Games webcomic #112: Tis but a scratch!

Originally posted on my web comic, Girlz 'N' Games.

Honestly, before March this year, the last game I pre-ordered was Batman: Arkham City. The 2013 Tomb Raider reboot/prequel, however, finally dragged me away from my back catalogue and into something brand new.

What can I say? If you follow me on Twitter or read my Pop Culture blog (here specifically), you'll know I've been completely fangirling over the game... to the point that I'm considering an attempt at fan fiction for the first time in my life. And this when I didn't even know what "shipping" meant until a fortnight ago. So, yeah, I think you can expect at least one more comic strip centred on Tomb Raider on this site.

I must have played the original 1996 Tomb Raider game at least 5 times from start to finish. This was despite having never watched any of the cutscenes because the geriatric family computer couldn't handle them. What wasn't to like about heroine Lara Croft back in the early days? A sexy, badass archeologist who travelled the globe, solving ancient mysteries and finding treasures along the way... ostensibly just for kicks because she was a rebellious, if loaded, British aristocrat. For better or worse, Lara Croft remains the most iconic female character in gaming. It's just that over the years she'd slipped into full-blown fantasy mode and lost relevance. She became just tits in a tank top.

However, Tomb Raider is now back, having been given much the same gritty reimagining treatment as James Bond since 2006's Casino Royale. In fact there's a very strong comparison to be made between the new Lara Croft and Daniel Craig's bloody, frequently beaten, shot and tortured take on Agent 007... particularly when you compare Craig's version of the spy with Pierce Brosnan's smirking, bullet-proof and ultra-glossy portrayal from the 1990s. Sound familiar?

Anyway, Tomb Raider 2013 isn't perfect (what game is?). There's plenty to have a laugh about, and there could have been more tombs to raid and more challenging puzzles to solve. However, the game is about as good as the action adventures genre gets - immersive, cinematic in style, technically polished, gorgeous to look at and all-round gratifying fun.

Best of all, the new Lara Croft - a novice-archeologist-turned-hardened survivor - is incredibly likeable. You wince and squirm through the whole game as the poor girl goes through... what? Hell? Apocalypse Now? Not to mention presumably a long course of antiretroviral drugs and antibiotics after her little island adventure. The point is that with the new Tomb Raider, it feels like the character of Lara Croft has been reclaimed, particularly for female fans. The new LC is someone you root for; someone you admire. Psychologically, she's finally believable and not just a CGI-sexpot.

I hope the sequels continue in this vein, presenting the exploits of a flesh-and-blood Lara Croft. And I certainly hope the new credible outfit stays. Down with the silly shorts and bare midriff!


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