Who is Lara Croft?

Who Is Lara? LARA CROFT: if you haven't heard her name by now, where have you been?! Feisty, intelligent and daring, Lara made her first appearance in Tomb Raider but has now reached beyond the gaming world. Her iconic status has attracted offers for numerous endorsements, as campaigns and even a blockbuster live-action movie!

Early 1995, Core Design - Derby, UK: during a creative brainstorming session, one of the ideas presented was an epic adventure game set amongst ancient pyramids, tombs and temples. Played from a third person point of view, the game was to feature a combination of exploration, action and puzzle solving elements, together with a unique camera system that not only followed the lead character, but also zoomed and panned around the screen to create a cinematic effect. The action would be set in state-of-the-art environments that would allow the player more interaction and freedom of movement than any other title on the market offered at that time.

The project was not only hugely ambitious from a technical point of view, but also required an engrossing storyline and a dynamic main character, credible enough to convincingly tackle the game's challenges, traverse its complex environments and, ultimately, solve its many mysteries.

And so Tomb Raider was born...

As development progressed, thoughts turned to who or what should take the star role in the game. The storyline and ancient locations dictated a human character, but one far removed from the stereotypical, muscle-bound male characters prevalent at the time. Core Design's artists wanted their character to be attractive enough to captivate the player and draw the audience into the adventure; a character that players could identify with, possibly sympathise with or even feel the need to protect.

As well as being striking in appearance, the character would have to be strong enough to deal with the game's physical challenges, flexible enough to perform acrobatic stunts and agile enough to execute intricate moves. The interactive nature of the game's environments also called for a highly animated character that could move fluidly and gracefully around the stunning locations and show them off to their best advantage. It soon became obvious that this criteria pointed towards a female character!

After several 2D concept sketches, a 3D polygonal model was finally constructed, and Lara Croft, daughter of wealthy English aristocrats, came to life on the computer screen for the first time. Dressed in combat shorts and a tight top, her physical beauty, fearless acrobatic stunts and proficiency with a pair of pistols immediately won the hearts of company directors. The quest for the ultimate action-heroine was finally over!

Whilst there was no doubt that Lara was visually pleasing to the eye, it was the shaping of her personality that was crucial to her credibility as an intelligent, resourceful and independent character. Full motion video sequences and cut-scenes portrayed her as an inquisitive and intrepid explorer who would stop at nothing to achieve her goals, and her aristocratic background provided means to fund her exploits. During the course of the next ten years, Lara's personality and appearance would be slowly developed by Core Design and than by Crystal Dynamics, to the point wher she would outgrow the Tomb Raider gaming world and enter mainstream culture to become the most famous virtual icon in the world, ultimately treated as a human celebrity.

Aricle taken from 'The Official Tomb Raider Files' magazine.