‘Tomb Raider’ Writer Discusses Lowering Lara’s Kill Count, Representation in Media

Published 2 years ago by

Tomb Raider Writer Talks Lowering Body Count

With some distance between now and the release of Crystal Dynamics‘ reboot of Tomb Raider, head writer Rhianna Pratchett is speaking out — sharing plenty of behind-the-scenes secrets for the newest entry in the popular action adventure franchise. While the game’s depiction of Lara has received plenty of scrutiny, the game that Crystal Dynamics delivered was still well received.

However, the Lara we see in the trailers and in the finished game went through several evolutions during development. In fact, Pratchett reveals she would have loved to cast Lara as a gay character. (However, that never entered into the discussion during development)

In an interview with Kill Screen Daily, Pratchett spends a large portion of time discussing women’s role as heroines. She mentions that a character like Nathan Drake, from Naughty Dog’s Uncharted franchise, never fell under as much scrutiny as the young Croft. Moreover she doesn’t think that Lara should represent all white females, just like Drake is not intended as a representation of white males.

For Pratchett the goal was always to make her a strong character. As she explains, she did not want to “make a male character with boobs.”

“Certainly with Lara, I wanted to make a human story. But I never wanted to forget that she was female either. And, I mean, certainly the way she reacts to things could be said to be more female as a reaction. I’m not talking about being scared, or being vulnerable. But the way she interacts with other characters, her friendship with Sam in particular…you wouldn’t see a male character holding the hands of an in-pain male character or hugging a dying male character.”

The comparisons to Uncharted continue in the interview, namely the hordes of enemies both Croft and Drake dispatch over the course of their respective games. Like Crystal Dynamics has been saying all along, the goal was to make the first kill count, to give some gravitas to that moment. But ultimately there was a game to be made, and so the developer couldn’t constantly show Lara fretting over every death.

Pratchett explains, however, that the kill count was significantly lowered over the course of development, likely in service of that idea. If Crystal Dynamics wants to reboot Lara and show how she comes to be the eponymous “tomb raider,” it was clearly important to show everything, including how she becomes a deft killing machine.

“It’s about balancing the needs of gameplay with the needs of narrative. The needs of narrative don’t always trump the needs of gameplay. In fact, it’s usually the other way around. And so I’d say from a narrative perspective, we would have liked the ramp-up to be a bit slower. But, you know, there are other factors to be considered! When players get a gun, they generally want to use the gun. We were brave in going such a long time without giving players a gun in a game where you end up doing a lot of shooting. We tried to innovate a little bit, but narrative can’t always win. Ideally if you can find a sweet spot, that’s great. But sometimes combat, or gameplay or whatever, has to win out.”

At the same time, there is something to be said about a game that uses killing sparingly. Ironically, Naughty Dog claims to be exploring that idea with The Last of Us. Perhaps by the time that game releases, gamers will be better acclimated to the idea of gunplay as a means of survival and not mass murder, which should help Tomb Raider 2. That way Crystal Dynamics wont have to feel like they need to constantly rely on shooting arenas for combat.

What do you think of the Tomb Raider reboot’s portrayal of Lara Croft? How would you have felt if Crystal Dynamics lowered the kill count significantly?

Tomb Raider is available now for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.

Source: Kill Screen Daily