While Shadow Of The Tomb Raider was a noticeably better than Rise thanks to its many puzzles and jungle setting, the characterisation of Lara Croft was still underwhelming and – at times – irritating.
In addition to a better and proper portrayal of Lara Croft, there are three other things Square Enix should accomplish in the future to recapture the British icon’s former glory so ignorant people stop saying her series is a knockoff Uncharted.
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Get rid of Jonah
Jonah was one of my biggest issues with Rise and Shadow Of The Tomb Raider. He was nothing more than an irritating pet that refused to go away no matter how much Lara told him to sod off. While Kairi is a red-headed Princess Peach in the Kingdom Hearts series, Jonah was a hairy variant with bigger boobs and an everchanging race. Other than being a damsel in distress relegated to the friend zone, his only purpose was to be Lara Croft’s biggest fanboy.
Square Enix shouldn’t give Jonah another starring role in any of the future Tomb Raider games and Lara Croft should return to being solo. Sure, Jonah (or preferably someone new) could chat to Lara via an earpiece like in Tomb Raider Underworld, but Square Enix must not give Lara Croft another co-op buddy in a thinly veiled effort to replicate Naughty Dog’s charming banter in Uncharted.
Keep Shadow Of The Tomb Raider’s difficulty options
One of Shadow Of The Tomb Raider’s biggest strengths was its difficulty options for puzzles, traversal, and combat. These allowed players to personalise their experience by making rock climbing and tomb conquering difficult and immersive by removing hints and Lara Croft’s obsession with talking to herself. At all costs, Square Enix must avoid going back to the days where players had to endure Lara Croft holding their hand while she competitively shouted how to complete all the puzzles.
And Square Enix must have more consistency. If I turn off verbal and visible hints for traversal and platforming, I don’t expect or want to see texts in the sky constantly reminding me how to perform a basic swan dive.
Take Lara on globe-trotting adventures
Although the size of the playgrounds in Tomb Raider, Rise, and Shadow were all impressive and somewhat fun to explore with their hidden tombs and billion collectables, Square Enix should take inspiration from Legend and most notably Underworld. A variety of smaller and linear but still open environments would be massively more exciting than simply being stuck in the same jungle or icy mountains. Like Underworld, Square Enix should take Lara to different settings that truly impact how she is able to traverse and completes puzzles.
This isn’t saying Square Enix need to remove the collectables or hidden tombs, as they could still be a part of the smaller and semi-open landscapes. Nor am I saying Lara needs to go an adventure where she travels around the entire world in less than 80 days. What I’m merely saying is that the Tomb Raider series should ditch the current open-world format to return to the days of chapters and levels. Four or five different landscapes would provide players with a superior sense of adventure, and it’d make for a constantly evolving experience with snowy landscapes naturally having different pros and cons to the jungle and underwater settings.
Lighten up the portrayal of Lara Croft
I’m all for Lara Croft rolling around in the mud and ripping off The Descent, but – with the modern reboot finally over - it's surely not too much to ask Square Enix to lighten up their portrayal of Britain’s greatest heroine. Yes, she’s a badass, but that doesn’t mean she has to remain an annoying do-gooder like Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen. Instead of the snivelling girl who always needed Jonah to give her a hug when she made a mistake, Square Enix needs to give us the witty and cool Lara Croft that used to rock sunglasses and the tightest shorts.
No, Square Enix doesn’t need to give Lara bigger boobs than Jonah, but they do sorely need to give her a personality. In Rise and Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, she was a two-dimensional bore who did nothing but state the obvious and shout “I’m coming for you bastards”. Rather than Lara Croft, she was merely an imitation of Katniss Everdeen (an obnoxious heroine of cinema that only exists because of Twilight).
To actually follow through with Lara finally becoming the tomb raider, Square Enix needs to make her confident and cocky, and they must give her back her iconic dual pistols.
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