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Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Amazing World of Laura Croft

I was playing one of the old Tomb Raider games this evening on the PS2 when something occurred to me.

Yes, I know Laura Croft, that impossibly sleek, overbuxomed, virtual adventure tart is old hat by now. After numerous games and two mindnumbly atrocious films, most people's eyes automatically roll up into their heads at the sound of her name. Still there is a certain nihlistic charm to watching a young English woman, with a physique that would send Kate Moss to Jenny Craig, jump around blasting villians and enraged animals to kingdom come.

However enjoyable the game might be though, there are certain things that simply make no sense at all. Yes, reality is often suspended in these sort of amusements, but after several hours of shotgunning my way around an impossibly large oil drilling platform, the mind begins to wander back to reality. Here's what I noticed:

  • Let's start with the obvious. Laura's physique is the stuff of teenage puberty fantasies. There simply isn't a real woman who looks like her, not even Angelina Jolie, whom the actual virtual Laura would no doubt find flat-chested and a bit "hippy." If a real woman went to a plastic surgeon and asked to be modeled into the shape of Laura Croft, the surgeon would smile, calmly step out of the office, and slit his wrists in despair.
    I've never been to a Hooters restaurant, but I've no doubt that the proprietors daily ring the video game company asking for the rights to put up posters of Laura Croft in a Hooters waitress outfit.
  • The arsenal. No, not my favourite footy franchise. I'm talking about the vast array of weapondry that Ms. Croft manages to squeeze on her person. During the most recent outing, I had a shotgun, two diffferent pairs of pistols (for shooting Chow-Yun-Fat-style) , several flares, over 1600 shotgun shells, a harpoon gun, and various other ammo. Laura Croft however has only the pockets of her bermudas cut as "hot pants," a small backpack, and her cleavage to store things in. Admittedly, she could hide a bazooka in the latter.
  • The bad guys' hideouts. If you've played the game, you'll know what I mean. To get from one place to the next, Laura has to push ridiculously large blocks, traverse waterways and complex passages, find hidden keys, fight off sharks, snipers, and thugs, battle tigers, avoid razor sharp blades and darts, and try not to fall off of things into a bloody pulp. All this is to "sweeten" the challenge of the game, of course. However, who builds their hideout like this? Even James Bond's enemies had the decent sense to build lairs that were at least manageable for their dense henchmen to navigate. In Laura Croft's world, you'd overheard henchmen talking like this: "Well, I was gonna take tea to the boss, but after just getting by the shark on level 16, the cart got sliced up by the buzzsaw on level 9. The sugar spilled and all of the death bats and radioactive worms came out then, so I had to ditch the biscuits and sandwiches and make a run for it past the automatic machine guns."
  • The game is ridiculously hard at some points. This actually isn't very unreal, but it is a per complaint of mine and so I thought I'd make it whilst I had your attention.


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