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Last Updated: Monday, 1 May 2006, 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK
Return of the first lady of games
By Alfred Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website

Screen shot of Tomb Raider: Legend
Lara Croft's physical attributes have been adjusted
It has been 10 years since the creation of aspiring British game designer Toby Gard first hit computer screens.

Lara Croft of Tomb Raider fame has gone on to become one of the most famous virtual celebrities.

But for most of this time, Mr Gard has had little to do with her. Instead, they have been somewhat of an estranged couple.

He left shortly after the first Tomb Raider game, angry with how Lara was being sexed up. The most visible sign of this was Lara's breast augmentation.

But the subsequent five sequels also strayed from the original Tomb Raider formula.

Lara's reputation as the leading lady of video games reached a nadir three years ago with the release of Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness.

The widely derided game tested the faith of even the most dedicated fans, as did an equally poor film, Cradle of Life.

Intervention

For Toby Gard, it was time to get back into the fray. He approached Crystal Dynamics, the US developers working on the Tomb Raider: Legend, and was hired to help revive Lara's fortunes.

Toby Gard with Lara Croft in the background
As a character, Lara Croft is about delving into history
Toby Gard
"I had seen the character go a bit wild," he told the BBC News website. "I felt like I had a wayward child and had to do one of those intervention things."

The most visible sign of his intervention is Lara's look. Her ballooning chest was brought under control, as Mr Gard worked on her look and costumes.

But he also wanted the game to return to the basics of exploration and puzzle-solving that made the original Tomb Raider such a hit.

Shortly after he joined the team working on Legend, Mr Gard convinced them to scrap the original script for the game.

He spent some eight months rewriting the story, so that it was closer to the themes of the original Tomb Raider.

"As a character, Lara Croft is about delving into history," said Mr Gard. "It is about looking into the unexplained.

"At its heart, it is about uncovering mysteries and exploration."

Lara's rebirth

Lara still wields her trademark dual pistols in Legend, but there is less of an emphasis on shooting enemies.

Screen shot of Tomb Raider: Legend
Tomb Raider retains her pistols though there is less violence
The reworking of the Tomb Raider franchise has hit a chord with gamers and critics alike.

The game has topped the charts in the UK and across Europe, riding a wave of overwhelmingly positive reviews.

Legend is the seventh title to be released in the Tomb Raider series, one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time, with more than 28 million copies sold.

Mr Gard sees Legend as the rebirth of Lara and is already thinking about ideas for the next Tomb Raider game.

"I really think there is a lot more to be done with her character," he said.

Alfred.Hermida-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk


SEE ALSO:
Lara back on legendary form
21 Apr 06 |  Technology
Tomb Raider comeback tops charts
11 Apr 06 |  Technology
Lara Croft gets new lease of life
24 May 05 |  Technology
Drive to 'unearth' new Lara Croft
03 Apr 06 |  Derbyshire
Lara Croft creator speaks out
18 Jun 04 |  Technology


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