While some video game characters would have worn out their welcome by the sixth or seventh installment, Lady Croft's place in our hearts and disc trays remains secure. To try to figure out why that is, we thought we'd look back on the pixelated women we've most come to admire.
The titular Tomb Raider's place is undisputed, so here's our list of The 10 Video Game Women We Most Respect.
Joanna Dark (Perfect Dark)
Born with a spinal injury that left her unable to walk before the age of 5, Joanna Dark spent her life exceeding expectations and rising to the occasion. Even as a simple bounty hunter aiding her father Jack, Jo embodied professionalism and commitment to getting the job done, even when loved ones and friends were lost in the process.
Ultimately her skills got her inducted into the Carrington Institute's ranks of top covert agents, where her flawless evaluations and performances earned her the nickname 'Perfect.' That call sign tells you all you need to know about this deadly, brilliant, fearless and professional operative.
Why We Respect Her: Making a player feel powerful is something the best heroes and heroines do effortlessly, and Joanna is no exception. We're not sure Rare has plans for Perfect Dark in the future, but we're holding out hope.
Elena Fisher (Uncharted)
We generally hold investigative journalists in high esteem regardless of their are of expertise, but it's Elena Fisher's skills off-camera that most impress us. Anyone who knows the Uncharted name immediately ties the title and no-hold-barred action to leading man Nathan Drake, but those who have played the games know that Elena is no damsel in distress or 'voice of an earpiece,' but a full-fledged counterpart to Drake's bravado and confidence.
The adventure genre of both films and games is full of women who provided comic relief with a well-placed scream, or raised the stakes by being helpless, or kidnapped. Elena isn't the kind to 'wait here' (regardless of where 'here' is) and has proven she can be counted on in any situation.
Why We Respect Her: She married - and stayed married (mostly) - to Nathan Drake. Need we say more?
Faith Connors (Mirror's Edge)
As part of the rebellion against a totalitarian regime taking over the City in which Mirror's Edge is based, we find ourselves rooting for Faith regardless of context. The fact that she practices her rebellion by acting as an illegal courier across rooftops where the police 'Blues' and City Eyes can't intercept her just makes her even more impressive.
Without a doubt the best game to feature parkour or Free Running elements, the style that makes Mirror's Edge a favorite among audiences is the same one that Faith exhibits in every tattoo and flourish. As we see it, she's too unique a character to be limited to one game.
Why We Respect Her: Anyone who seems less powerful with a gun in their hand than a drainpipe has our interest. We hope Mirror's Edge 2 comes along soon, since Faith's potential far exceeds what was shown in the first game.
Cate Archer (No One Lives Forever)
The quintessential counterpoint to James Bond's 007, cat burglar-turned-secret-agent Cate Archer is one of the most underrated leads in one of the most underrated modern shooters - the fact she's a woman is an afterthought.
Not just a simple parody of the 1960s spy film, Monolith's The Operative: No One Lives Forever was a genuine entry in the genre, with a heroine that would've been right at home in the decade. With a sense of humor, gadgets, and the ire of her skeptical male superiors, Cate Archer had everything needed to make herself memorable. And she did just that.
Why We Respect Her: How could we not? As shallow as the ranks of 1960s-era female super-spies happen to be, archer is just an incredibly skilled agent regardless of gender. And as a role model for anyone who's ever been doubted by authority figures, she holds a special place in our hearts.
Jade a.k.a. 'Shauni' (Beyond Good & Evil)
Jade's role in Beyond Good & Evil has been the subject of much criticism, naming her one of the most important female game characters ever, as much for what she is as what she is not. Created by Ubisoft's Michel Ancel to embody something relatable, not simply sex appeal, Ancel ultimately made a female protagonist who distinguishes herself by her choices, not her skills or appearance.
As a fearless photo-journalist making a home for countless orphans, Jade's trust camera and wits are all she can rely on in uncovering a massive alien conspiracy and rescuing her adopted family. Not to mention illustrating how everyday people can manage to create a resistance group.
Why We Respect Her: How could we not? Ubisoft has plans for a sequel, and when it comes along we know Jade will once again prove that regular people can do incredible things too.
Liara T'Soni (Mass Effect)
Some people might settle for earning the title of the most learned and knowledgeable source of information concerning a now-extinct race of galactic engineers. Indeed, the world of gaming is full of such experts. But after Dr. Liara T'Soni stepped from her mother's shadow to do just that, and uncovered the secrets of Prothean extinction, she moved on.
Not into other areas of study, but information brokering. By the time Mass Effect 2 begins Liara has become the leading broker on Illium. The only greater dealer being the infamous Shadow Broker, Liara seeks Shepard's help in eliminating him, and usurping his role. Now that's ambition.
Why We Respect Her: Becoming an authority in any field is a challenge, let alone several. And if you hold to the belief that true strength means knowing who to trust, her friendship with Shepard and the rest of the crew prove she is one of a kind.
Anya Stroud (Gears of War)
From the very beginning of the Gears of War series, Anya Stroud distinguished herself as an intelligence officer unlike any other. Not just because she saw Marcus Fenix for who he was, not the traitor and deserter he was accused of being, but for her own dedication to the COG.
Anyone in the military will tell you that those supplying intel are just as important as those on the front lines, and Anya kept Delta Squad alive more times than we can count. But her desire to serve more directly, and the valor she exhibited in Gears 3 with the world on the line makes her one of the COG elite.
Why We Respect Her: As the daughter of Helena Stroud, Anya dealt with high expectations from the very start. That kind of pressure can break lesser men and women, but Stroud never let her burden interfere with a mission, and never settled for anything less than victory.
Alyx Vance (Half-Life 2)
As a leading figure in the Resistance movement in City 17, anyone who isn't a Combine-sympathizer likely found Alyx Vance one of the highlights of Half-Life 2 and the following Episodes. Painstakingly designed by Valve and given a voice and writing that manged to be warm, trustworthy, but also confident and assertive, she was a success on all fronts.
In the end, Alyx proved to be one of the most important parts of the game's story and campaign, arguably even more integral to success than Gordon Freeman. There's little to say about Alyx that hasn't been already, as she perfectly illustrates the benefits of a well-written-and-realized 'sidekick.'
Why We Respect Her: Story aside, Alyx's presence turned out to be the one ongoing escort mission that never made us red in the face. Given the wealth of downright game-breaking AI partners, that in itself is a monumental achievement.
Sarah Kerrigan (StarCraft)
There are few women as dangerous as StarCraft's Sarah Kerrigan. A powerful telepath from an early age, Kerrigan was quickly trained to be one of the Terran Confederacy's 'ghosts'; soldiers with unmatched psionic abilities, entrusted with the most covert and pivotal operations.
Too strong to succumb to torture or brainwashing, Kerrigan was able to shift from army to army as a potent asset, until being overrun by the Zerg Swarm. The Zerg 'infection' couldn't destroy Kerrigan's natural resolve and gifts either, but transformed her into the menacing 'Queen of Blades.'
Why We Respect Her: The reasons should be obvious to anyone who's seen the opening cinematic for StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. Able to command an entire race by sheer force of will, Sarah Kerrigan is about as intimidating as any video game character in history.
Samus Aran (Metroid)
This is a no-brainer. She was the first, she was the best, and she still remains one of the most beloved characters Nintendo has in its stable. Granted we didn't actually know Samus Aran was a woman the first time we played through Metroid, but once we discovered it, we were never the same. Not only was the hero of the game a woman, but she was one of the deadliest people in the galaxy.
Adopted by the Chozo race after her parents were killed by Space Pirates (that old story), Samus was trained to be a warrior with help of her trusty Power Suit. Of course, she's every bit as deadly without it; just ask the Space Pira-- oh.
Why We Respect Them: Even after all these years, Samus is everything we remember her to be. And almost strictly appearing in highly-polished games that leave us wondering what the gaming world would be without her.
We look forward to seeing if Lara Croft can forge a new trail in the hearts and minds of a new generation of gamers with Tomb Raider. As our list clearly shows, more memorable and accomplished video game heroines often lead to more memorable and accomplished games.
Any other video game women you most admire, and who you think deserve a spot on our list? Name them in the comments.
Tomb Raider releases today for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.