Since its release in the more humble time of 1996, when Rage Against The Machine still fervently raged on and Independence Day blew up the White House in spectacular fashion, Core Design's Tomb Raider has been a seminal fixation in households for what seems like forever.
We're all very aware of everybody's favorite female crypt lurker's attributes. We've been coercing her to backflip, dive, and generally shoot anything that moves in caverns for way over a decade now. In between swings she helped make a franchise out of Playstation (Tomb Raider I reportedly aided Sony's shifting of over 100 million PS1s!) and was even brought to life by a slew of actresses (including Angelina Jolie, of course) on the silver screen.
With the announcement that Swedish actress Alicia Vikander is now gearing up to strap on some guns as Hollywood's new Lara Croft, let's cast an eye back over the graphical evolution of the most successful video game heroine:
How It All Began
Tomb Raider I (1996)
Here we see Croft for the first time in all of her blocky glory! Her character design caused many a debate upon release and it's obvious to see why!
Some argued that her slim waist and ample bosom forced the character into the much maligned unattainable male fantasy pigeonhole, while others simply celebrated the arrival of a female protagonist. Plus, notice how both the in-game and promotional Laras look different. It becomes a strange little occurrence.
Tomb Raider II & III (1997/8)
There isn't much difference in design here besides the inclusion of Croft's braid and a lower cut top.
Fast becoming a huge franchise and cult figure, from here Croft would be pictured in provocative poses, blowing kisses to her adoring fans and being referenced on British sitcoms.
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation/Chronicles (1999/00)
So now Croft's in-game face was a lot more detailed, but what's up with her shoulders?
They've been pulled back, it seems, to really accentuate her chest, and her top is way lower cut than in the promotional build.
Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness (2003)
Released — way too early — to coincide with the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie, here we have a more graphically refined Croft, thanks to the power of the Playstation 2.
Channeling her inner Posh Spice, the change to a black tee, black boots, and darker makeup is to reflect Angelina Jolie's Croft's color palette. And look, finally, parity between the in-game and promotional Crofts! How exciting!
Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)
Legend was an even bigger step up for our heroine and Crystal Dynamics, her new designers.
Realistic skin textures, a fresh hairdo, and a brown tee (that was probably white when she got it) are the major changes here for our Lara. Still, those shorts must chafe.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007)
A visual throwback to early iterations, Anniversary saw Croft once again don the famous blue top.
Both the Legend and Anniversary Croft's have similar facial features, and the muscle texture has improved. Her eyes look a little upside down on the promotional image.
Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)
Consisting of over 30,000 polygons, Underworld's Croft was awarded a Guinness World Record for most detailed video game character ever. Impressive!
Now sporting a pony tail instead of a braid and a darker get-up, this was the first Tomb Raider game to have a motion captured Croft. The animations were provided by NCAA Women's Gymnastics champion Heidi Moneymaker.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2010)
The digitally released incarnation saw no big character improvements from the past two Tomb Raider games.
Though having said that, she is back in the blue tank and her cheekbones are more defined. The promotional artwork depicts the most realistic Croft that was seen so far. The game also introduced a scantily clad male character called Totec.
Tomb Raider (2013 - Reboot)
The most recent incarnation saw Croft undertake a total overhaul.
The latest Lara was based on model Megan Farquhar and animated via motion capture. The origin story, which found a younger Croft stranded on an island before developing her ass-kicking abilities, was generally well received and broke records as the fastest selling Tomb Raider game of all time. With her more realistic body structure, facial features and trousers, this was a rather overdue reboot.
So there we have it, the evolution of one of gaming's most iconic protagonists! From sunglasses-toting siren to humanized lost girl, it's great to see gaming take a step toward parity of realism between the sexes.
Only time will tell what gems Alicia Vikander will bring to the role in the upcoming re-boot, yet considering everything she's achieved in the short time she's been in the limelight, she's bound to do a kick-ass job.