‘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

TAGS: Crystal Dynamics, PC, PS3, Square Enix, Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider 9, Xbox 360

  • The mighty avenger

    I loved the rebooted Lara. Much more actually then I remember her on my ps1. She was a innocent tough badass. It was a great portrayal and I thought the kill count was fine. The same as uncharted I think. The transformation from innocent Lara to tomb raider Lara was flawless. I thought it was perfectly done and well worth the wait. I think I can’t wait for a sequel. Even my wife loved the game she’s playing through it right now and hasn’t complained bout the portrayal once. Though she has complained bout the voice of Lara which I thought was belivevble and fine.

    • Avengers Assemble!!!

      I enjoyed the game as well. I thought it was a great reboot and the new Portrayal of Lara was AWESOME.

  • DarthMalnu

    …Can’t we just once have a game with a female lead that isn’t made into some sort of statement about the female voice in society. She’s a woman, it’s obvious. I’m not playing the game to be a woman, I’m playing to be Lara Croft, a great and iconic character. Focusing on only the feminine aspect is contributing to the childish “girls can be heroes too” debate which I think discredits Lara as a great character. I’ve seen males holding other in pain and dying males in games many times… Lara does this because it’s within her character, not because she was born with a vagina.

    Women are equal to men. Can we get over it now?

    • Levi

      Totally agree with you. I really love the work Rhianna Pratchett has done on Lara Croft here, but I feel she should be taking more pride in the fact she made a Lara Croft that will define the next generation games, an amazing feat, and focus less on her making a women who happens to be a hero in a game

    • Lisa

      Couldn’t have said it better myself, buddy :)

  • JBARR9

    I think it’s stupid that the writer was going to make Lara gay. I mean why does that even seem like a great idea? Making her gay somehow makes her stronger than if she wasnt gay? Also why do we need to know her sexual desires? Just keep it to yourself! I don’t need to know. Btw not a homophobe. Hate the sin love the sinner.

    • David

      Saying “I HATE the sin but not the sinner” is just like saying “Separate…but equal.” If something has to be treated differently then it isn’t equal, it’s separate.

      And some people ARE gay. Why CAN’T she be gay? Why can’t we know what she likes?

      Personally I don’t want Lara Croft to be a lesbian cause as a gay male I find that she is straight…and even then I find that she is not about “love” but about living life…Maybe she did have a lover at one point…but it’s obvious that they left with horrific circumstances to not be seen ever again in Lara’s life–which would make Lara evolve even more as she has to carry the burden of lost love along with lost parents.

      But, you sound more like a bigot than a homophobe. You aren’t afraid of gays…you just don’t want them to be heroes or anyone inspiring…just whores who get aids. Which isn’t fair. We might as well say that all men are cheaters and never commit and all women are wussies who would never survive or become strong.

      It is demeaning. But in all cases aside, whoever Lara grows up to be this time around…I will stand by her and help her lift her shoulders as much as I can…sadly I can only do that with an analog stick but if I could…I would with my two own arms…plus the many others who support and love the girl who will become a legend…

      • DarthMalnu

        I think there should totally be gay characters (and leads) in games… but as with females, I hate when they’re forced to make some kind of statement. Like in Mass Effect 3 they added a gay romance option, but they made it so forced. Pursuing a romantic path with the straight characters felt like a realistic progression from friend to lover through conversation, understanding, and mutual respect… but every conversation with the gay guy was basically “don’t forget that I’m gay”… and it was made even more unrealistic to me because the way they kept reminding you that he was gay was that he was mourning his dead husband, and then suddenly he wanted to bang you.

        I know that video games aren’t the only ones that do this. I’d just like to see a non-straight-white-male character be in a game without some sort of agenda attached (for or against). These charcters should be judged on their merit, not their prtrayal.

  • Demas

    I thought this rebooted Tomb Raider was a masterpiece. It’s hands down one of the best games i have ever played, and being someone who’s been a gamer since Atari 2600 in it’s prime, that’s saying something.

    that being said, there only problem i have with this game is the multi-player … it was unnecessary. all that extra room on the disk could have been used to give the tombs more depth or just added to the single player experience in general.

    I love the rebooted personality of Lara, at no point in the game did i think i was playing as some stereotypical female or over masculine-ised female as the original Lara tended to be. She was developed and believable, i found myself actually caring about her and that was awesome. I’m glad they didn’t go into that whole lesbian thing, cause it’s just pointless. Lara was made a great character instead of just a good female character, it didn’t seem to focus on her gender at all and i LOVED that.

    It was a brilliant reboot. The only fear i have about a sequel is that they put SO much into it, that i just cant imagine how to top it unless it just made it a real open world game with more of the epic puzzles of the original games. Sorry for going on so long, but this game is epic and deserves praise instead of being nit-picked to death.

  • Deej

    Absolutely loved this game. As a female gamer who’s relatively new to fps games, I thought the kill count was perfect. It’s fun with so many enemies for all the ways to kill them. I highly enjoyed sneaking up on enemies :)

    I also think sexuality should be left out. I totally think of her as straight and it really doesn’t matter.

    I do wish it was a completely open world format like I originally thought. The game is so realistic, fast traveling is so FAKE!!