Last week, I posted the first part of a two-part fan interview with Ana and Inna, the two talented ladies behind the popular and evergrowing DeviantArt group, Tomb Raider Empire.
So here’s Part 2, where they talk about Lara’s image, their favourite (and least favourite) Tomb Raider games, and their hopes for future games.
What are your thoughts on Lara’s image? Is she simply the product of a sexist gaming industry or can she be seen as a positive role model?
- Ana: I don’t think she’s a product of a sexist gaming industry as she wasn’t intended to be a sex symbol when Toby Gard created her. The fact that she became one later doesn’t bother me, honestly, because as a straight female, I swoon upon her as much as any other guy would. Her looks aren’t what make her who she is, but they certainly add to her character. You may say I’m naïve, but with the graphics back then and how cartoony video game characters were, her stylized and overly-emphasized features aren’t really that odd. She was a female game character and much was done to show her with a both feminine and Amazonian physique. After the game’s initial success, it’s no wonder they used that in commercials to attract players (I think it was very tacky but oh well). As for being positive role model, definitely, which is why I’m not bothered with her sex appeal in the first place. She’s smart and badass, more than any other traits that she possesses
- Inna: I think the way you see her depends a lot on what kind of a person you are and how you perceive the world in general. For some people she’s indeed just a doll with a backpack to balance out boobies. But I think the reason why I fell in love with TR in the first place was because of what I saw in Lara. For me, she’s always been an image of a perfect woman, beautiful on all levels. She can sweep you off your feet… or swipe you. Lara is this unique combination of a warrior, a scholar, and the very essence of femininity. And while all those images might be boring or lacking when taken alone, they’re a real blast when combined. She will always inspire me in a lot of things. And, yeah, like Ana said, although I’m a straight female, I totally have a girly crush on her😀
Ana (left) and Inna (right)
What’s your favourite Tomb Raider game?
- Ana: That would be The Last Revelation. If I played the games today without having known them from before, I’m pretty sure I would have picked Tomb Raider 2 (and AoD was awesome!) but The Last Revelation marked my childhood. Even though it took me almost a decade to beat it (not in continuous gameplay,obviously) and I wouldn’t have been able to without Stella, TR4 is the first thing I think of when someone says ‘Tomb Raider’ or ‘Lara Croft’. For me, it will always remain mostly Egypt, danger, traps, puzzles, and mystery. Though the game was really a little too much.
- Inna: While I do like discussing games with fellow TR friends analysing what could be improved, I generally always prefer seeing the good sides to each and enjoy them. What’s done is done, right? What’s the point on dwelling on what you didn’t like in this game or that game. I just enjoyed every single one ‘cause each of them is worth admiring for certain reasons. So no favourite or less favourite kids for me here. I love all the babies. OK, I might be loving AoD and TR2 a bit more, but shhhh, don’t tell the other kids I said so.😀
And your least favourite game?
- Ana: I’ll have to go with Legend and the reboot. I did love them both, but let me explain why they’re my least favourite, though you can already assume I can’t deal with change. Those were the two games that changed my iconic character from scratch. I had no idea about Legend being a thing until my cousin (the same one who introduced me to Tomb Raider) casually showed it to me once on his PC. I couldn’t believe that thing was real. I genuinely thought he was messing with me when he said there was a new Tomb Raider game. Reviving the franchise seemed only like a dream. And I expected everything I loved about Tomb Raider but with much better graphics, but what I got was a Lara with an almost redhead ponytail, a completely different controls system, and a game that was way too easy. And I thought Lara was way too mellow. I learned to love it over time, though, because the locations and the story were awesome.
Then the reboot. I LOVED it as a game in itself but unless they perform some sort of a miracle in Rise of the Tomb Raider, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to call that girl Lara. She’s more of a Laura to me (that’s my gentle insult) because the way they stripped her down to an ordinary girl becoming a survivour out of necessity just doesn’t do it for me. She’s generic both in looks and character, because if she was ‘the’ Lara, her unique character and wits would have shown through in the game, even if she was just a baby raider. I can’t imagine a strong person emerging from what she’s been through, and the sequel teaser reminds me of the Deer Hunter movie, where Christopher Walken gets a little crazy after being forced to play Russian roulette so he starts doing it for some sickly thrill. It’s just not the way it’s supposed to be.
Classic, Legend-Anniversary-Underworld or Reboot Lara?
- Ana: Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone so wordy with the previous question and should have left some for this one. But you guessed it: Classic
- Inna: All the ladies are unique and great for their own reasons. But the question says “Lara”, right? Well, of all the girls named Lara, there’s only one true Lara Croft. We all know which one.😉
Do you have any favourite Tomb Raider moments or quotes?
- Ana: My favourite moment must be after I first discovered the wonders of the internet and used a walkthrough to pass one part in Tomb Raider: Last Revelation that my friend and I had literally been trying to beat for years. The Sacred Lake level, an underwater part with a hidden air hole only shown in a great green mirror (I was untrained in the ways of raiding - mirrors showing what isn’t really there is one of the most typical things in Tomb Raider). I swear I had already dreamt of crocodiles and golden sand, that’s how much it tortured me. Once again, thanks Stella! I also loved the tranquilizer gun in Underworld. Putting kitties to sleep instead of killing them is much more settling. My favourite quote is from Angel of Darkness: “If I had a coconut for every time some lunatic said something like that”. Mostly because of her cold way of saying it. She’s funny when she’s dead serious. That’s my Lara.
- Inna: I think the most memorable moment for me would be the appearance of the T-Rex in Anniversary. Unfortunately, I joined the legion of Lara fans a bit late and Anniversary was the first game I played. And not being much of shooters-lover, I don’t think I had played a proper action-adventure game before then. Needless to say, my world was turned upside down. I just died a little seeing the T-Rex breaking through those ruins and I was breaking all the laws of how wide your eyes can get while muttering “Lara, kill it in the cut scene, please kill it in the cut scene, don’t give me the controls back”. That’s something I will never forget…and I have had an utter fear of CG dinosaurs since then. Don’t ask me how I played the South Pacific level later, just don’t. *nervous shudder*
What about least favourite moments? Is there anything you dislike about the games/films/comics?
- Ana: I don’t like how much emphasis was placed on Sam’s and Lara’s friendship in the reboot. Actually, in the game itself, it wasn’t that obvious, as I imagine Lara was trying to rescue the entire crew and would do what anyone else would have done to stop Sam from being sacrificed. But the way fans ‘ship them (and I think the friendship continues in the novel and comics, can’t say as I haven’t read them) just doesn’t rub me the right way. For me, Lara works solo. Always has and always would. And I couldn’t care less about some side character or how Lara is attached to them. The only way to bring up an old friend of hers is to make her a new enemy. Go Amanda!
- Inna: I’m really all forgiving when it comes to my beloved franchise, but the movies have been my main sore spot for the longest time. I’d heard a lot of negative reviews before watching them, but I refused to believe anything TR-related could be bad. Alas, it was possible. They just never captured that tomb raiding spirit for me. No mesmerizing lost worlds with eternal beauty and mystery, no clever and educated Lara, no feeling of exciting adventure. Only faint glimpses of it here and there, but overall dull and unmemorable. Prince of Persia, now THAT was a truly atmospheric and epic movie based on a game. I was even quite jealous for the longest time, wishing that TR had gotten something as good as this. I’m never giving up hope, though. Epic Lara needs an epic movie…and Lara always gets what she wants.
If you could change one thing about the Tomb Raider franchise, what would you change?
- Ana: I think it’s way past changing in the direction I originally would have wanted it to go. I don’t want to come off as if I hate the Reboot because I love all things Tomb Raider, as long as Lara’s adventures live on! But I would move away from the gruesome and gloomy atmosphere. I would like her to travel around the world and visit places both filthy and magical. I want more of the naïve stuff going on, like dinosaurs and Shiva statues prancing around. And I definitely want the creators to concentrate on Lara’s character as she used to be. A reboot brings a lot of new stuff into the picture, but it doesn’t have to exclude all the old stuff. Make her love, not hate, tombs, make her daring, adventurous, witty, smart, and bring the dual pistols and braid back. I’ll never get over the braid. I’d like them to justify the huge amount of kills in the last game to make Lara wield as many weapons as a pro. You can’t get that sort of training unless you kill some guys, I guess. But that was more than enough for her to become the master of weapons. Don’t do that anymore. And get rid of Sam.
- Inna: Toby Gard not selling rights to Lara. Ever. ‘nuff said. Try to imagine what tomb raiding magic he could have created with his vision and modern graphics and technologies.
Which places would you like to see Lara explore in future games?
- Ana: I can’t say I’ve any place in particular in mind, but I love the made-up places which correlate with mythology and history. Like St. Francis Folly, where every room represents a different god.
- Inna: Narnia wardrobe. I mean, seriously, have you seen those treasure chambers? Someone needs to call Lara.
Finally, if you could join Lara on one of her adventures, where would you go?
- Ana: I wouldn’t dare to go anywhere, to be honest. I would love to explore new places and solve puzzles, but if we encountered an enemy or, even worse, a beast, I would be smaller than a poppy seed and probably just as useful.
- Inna: I think I stopped reading at “If you could join Lara…”. Sign me in, no further explanations needed! I’ll probably end up like a bait for crocodiles…or yetis…or raptors…or mutant spiders…or…who cares, right? You said join Lara. I volunteer!
A huge thanks to Ana and Inna for taking the time to participate in our series of fan interviews. If you’re looking for amazing Tomb Raider fan art, be sure to check out their DeviantArt galleries (Ana’s, Inna’s, and their combined account) or join their DeviantArt group, Tomb Raider Empire. You can also find them on Twitter, @LaraRobsGraves.