Certainly videogames have been on the ropes with ‘controversy’ and this year is no exception. Two of the more popular controversies are coming from Square Enix. Rather the usual Ubisoft (hiring actors to protest Assassin’s Creed) or Rockstar (do I really need to explain this one?), Enix has been doing some rather edgy stuff. The first gaining some attention was Hitman: Absolution with the clergy assassins in scantily clad religious garb. While that fire died out a bit, the new topic is Tomb Raider. A time honored franchise that set the bar for action adventure titles, Enix has decided to reboot the franchise.
Laura Croft, the Tomb Raider is getting a reboot similar to Capcom’s DmC and the newest title will be an origin story. While this industry has enough origin stories being formed Tomb Raider has never had the need to get one. Fans were satisfying playing as the strong independent woman with a real hankering for treasure hunting. From a franchise/storytelling perspective rebooting the series and starting from the very beginning is a better option than just making a fourth game the origin (Gears of War Judgment/God of War Ascension).
During my time in E3 I was fortunate to get a screening of Tomb Raider witnessing the core gameplay and a bit of the story. I mentioned controversy and this is where I tell you what it is. Tomb Raider has gained two kinds of controversy. One, being a story aspect and adding more character to Laura, the other being a suggestive scene which plays into the character of Laura Croft. The scene in question is when Laura is escaping the clutches of an unknown enemy, the leader finds her escaping and he appears to get ready to rape Laura.
While the developers have said the scene is not an attempted rape scene, I can safely say when viewing the actual gameplay and not just a trailer it was heading in that direction. To save their own hind quarters I can see why the developers said what they did. I cannot blame them for that. However, the other piece of controversy is the way Laura’s character is being developed. The developers have openly said they want to create a character players want to feel the need to protect and defend. I can understand this as it will create a better sense of storytelling when you are trying to save this girl, but she has to gut a deer for survival. You don’t want to put a young woman through such trauma, but you have to.
While the masses are up in arms about how Laura Croft is being portrayed I find that the masses are being misguided. This game is a reboot. It does not follow the same Laura Croft from that PS1 game you fell in love with. Laura is a strong role model for women and girls everywhere. The Developers are giving her a backstory, showing that she was just a science nerd which no reason to become someone like the Tomb Raider. Yes, believing that someone like Laura Croft was once a softie is rather odd, but not out of the realm of possibility.
The reason why the developers are making Laura seem weak and need protection is because of the emotion created from good storytelling. We know Laura Croft as the Tomb Raider. We didn’t know about Laura Croft as The Archeologist. That is what this game is attempting to create, a story to show how the Tomb Raider began. It is creating buzz, and people wont like it. But I find it very admirable that someone took on the job to do something different with a franchise. Not to mention reboot a game franchise that makes sense.