I'm probably one of the few women who can remember the first "Tomb Raider" game. I bought it sometime around 1997 and loved it - even though I never got very far and the characters looked a little cubic then.
Now Eidos is releasing "Tomb Raider Anniversary", a remake of the first "Tomb Raider"-game. I'm just downloading the demo while I write this (so I'll have ample time for it) and I might write another post about how good or bad the game really is.
When it was first released, "Tomb Raider" was a novelty ... the first action game with a female main character. Lara Croft surely looked female (even then she was extremely 'well build', though she didn't look really curvaceous then, because of the limited ability of graphics cards to produce really rounded things), but she also was quite tough.
Her enemies were mostly animals or mythical creatures (and who can really complain about a woman killing a minotaur?) with a few mercenaries or other baddies thrown in for the harder fights.
Apart from killing her adversaries, Ms. Croft also had to climb and jump through the levels (and her movements have increased with every new game since) and solve some minor problems (mostly by pulling levers and moving about blocks). This made the game more interesting to me - when it came down to just shooting, I could have played another ego-shooter instead.
There's a lot of "Tomb Raider"-games out by now, it's been ten years since the first, after all. But even though some of them seem a lot more interesting at first (like the fifth game, not named "Tomb Raider 5", because instead of going on with the story, it reflected the past of Lara Croft who, presumably, had died at the end of the forth game), in the end it's the first one I remember when someone says "Tomb Raider".
Lara had a long way to go then before she would finally reach the heights of popularity, even featuring in an advertisement on TV (for a women's magazine) and a music video ("Ein Schwein namens Männer" by Die Ärzte). I personally like the music video (which is still shown on TV sometimes today) a lot, showing the three members of a German punk band fighting against Lara - and loosing.
But all the time - in the two movies as well as in the other games - Lara always stayed the self-assured woman she was from the very beginning. And in the modern media which take up interesting characters and twist them around until nobody can still recognize them, that's a good thing.
I'm still waiting for the game to download - and I've planned more posts for tomorrow -, but for now I'll stay with this:
"Tomb Raider" is still one of my all-time favourites and I still like Lara Croft a lot.