New Lara Croft squares up for fight (August 12)

A 23-year-old professional gymnast from south London has been unveiled as the new face of Lara Croft.

Alison Carroll will promote the new Tomb Raider: Underworld game which is due out in November.

Alison told Newsbeat: "It's an amazing opportunity. Lara is strong, athletic, confident and independent so it's a huge responsibility to take on her role."

After quitting her day job as a receptionist, Alison is about to star in TV commercials and marketing campaigns around the world.

She follows in the footsteps of Nell McAndrew who brought Lara Croft to life in the 1990s, and Angelina Jolie who played the character in the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001.

As the sexy, clever and fearless adventurer starring in the classic Tomb Raider, Lara Croft was something gamers had never seen before.

Alison added: "She's got everything that a woman aspires to be like and everything that a man would like to meet."

And it's not just the games, Lara Croft has fought her way through comics, feature films and animations, holding the Guinness world record for the most successful human video game heroine.

New challenges

But 12 years on from the release of the original game, can the new version challenge other titles in a competitive market and is Lara Croft still the icon she once was?

Tomb Raider became a classic, but a lot has changed since gaming's most famous heroine jogged her way onto console screens in 1996.

Alison Carroll has spent 12 years as a professional display gymnast "She's still a leading icon in games, but maybe she's not as big as she used to be," said Gavin Ogden, editor of

"The last couple of games have had their ups and downs and we've yet to see a true next generation Lara Croft video game."

The company behind Tomb Raider, Eidos, moved production of the game to the USA after one of the previous titles Angel Of Darkness was widely criticised for not being up to standard.

Underworld is the first Tomb Raider title build from the ground-up for next-generation consoles and Eidos claim the new game will be "breathtaking".

The company's web site promises gamers "a new advancement in exploration-based game play".

Lara Croft will explore locations "designed with an incredible attention to detail... that creates a truly believable world and delivers a new level of challenge and choice".

Gaming competition

Trailers and stills released for Tomb Raider: Underworld show Lara Croft swimming underwater fighting off sharks, jungle scenes and plenty of Aztec-style architecture.

But with titles such as Grand Theft Auto IV and Halo 3 taking visual effects to a new level, the game has a lot to live up to.

Alison will now start a series of courses including SAS survival And there will be tough competition for Tomb Raider: Underworld with new versions of hit games Call Of Duty and Gears Of War also released around November 2008.

Gavin Ogden said: "She's still as relevant today as she ever was, whether she can surprise us still remains to be seen."

But as the new face of Lara Croft, Alison for one is convinced a gun-carrying archaeological adventurer still has a place on our console screens.

She said: "Lara Croft is an iconic gaming character. She just goes from strength to strength."

Tomb Raider: Underworld is released in the UK on 21 November 2008.

Source: BBC, by Jonathan Blake