Lara Croft - A Comparison from 1996 to 2006

From the outset Toby Gard, the creator of Lara Croft, had a very strong concept of who he wanted Lara to be – his goal was to make a very different kind of games character. A very real looking woman who would be in contrast to all other female games characters to date. Women in games had been limited to damsels in distress or dominatrix style vixens whose sole purpose was to be a tease. Lara on the other hand was going to be taken very seriously.

To begin, Toby’s goal was to make a psychopath this super amazing dangerous killer that was extremely dangerous and from whom people would want to run away but at the same time she would be awfully polite.



The original concept art shows her as a real aggressor.

The original in game model was made of 400 polys, and this was defined by the PlayStation’s limited ability to draw frames per second, a decent number of frames had to remain for the background and the enemies. With this limited ability to draw and create Lara her physical attributes would have to be really exaggerated in order to make it very clear in game that she was a woman.

There were simply not enough polys to define Lara’s joints so the original model had no toes, nor fingers, not even a mouth or jaw.

She was always meant to have long hair as well (she did in cutscenes, the Lara model for these was of a higher resolution of 800 polys)

The entrance to TR1

but hair required physics simulation and the team did not have enough time to create a programme to handle this so in game, Lara had a small bun. Lara’s long hair did not appear in game until Tomb Raider 2.

Lara also started out as a munitions expert, she was meant to have a rocket launcher on her back and carry grenades. Due to technical difficulties, the grenades never made it into the game but were a welcome addition to Tomb Raider: Legend. Lara’s signature weapons were also meant to be dual uzis but as these were not available until the end of the game, the weapon that everyone came to associate Lara with was her dual pistols.

Lara has really evolved now.

(Lara with her dual uzis)

She is built from 7000 polys, the Lara in Tomb Raider: Anniversary, can express mixed emotions, has a realistic and vastly expanded movement set. Her body moves fluidly and naturally and her hair has movement.

She looks real.

She also interacts dynamically with the environment, her clothes show damage and dirt, her hair and outfit become wet when she swims, her breath steams in cold air.

The moves that she can perform are still based around the original set but she can string multiple moves together and her athletic abilities have increased.

She will use backflips and rolls to dodge enemy fire, use handstands to climb ledges, she can also climb vertical poles, swing around horizontal poles and will also jump upon and balance, like a perch, on the smallest isolated platforms.

Lara also has more kit at her disposal. A gadget that was shown in one of the original Tomb Raider cutscenes, the grapple, has now become a reality in game. Introduced in Tomb Raider: Legend, Lara can use the grapple to swing across chasms and pull objects towards her. For the first time in Anniversary, she can also use the grapple to climb walls.