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20 things you didn’t know about Lara Croft

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David Cornish
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What is it about the British and their insistence on pinching cultural artefacts from foreign nations?

The British Museum is full of the stuff, the V&A has a fair number of "borrowed" pieces - but both fall well short of the stash on show in Croft Manor.

As a hardened Lara Croft returns to her raiding ways in the new Tomb Raider title, Rise of the Tomb Raider, we've taken a look through her franchise to remind ourselves of her famed origins.

Here are 20 things you probably didn't know about the seasoned career of Lara Croft.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft

    Croft was almost a guy

    Toby Gard, the character designer responsible for crafting the original Lara, initially went through four or five designs before he settled on a female protagonist. 

    "My initial design was a guy in some tombs," he told The Guardian back in 2006. "But when I started doing proper designs the female character just worked better."

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 1

    Laura Cruz

    Were it not for a marketing-led decision from UK studio Eidos Interactive, Tomb Raider would have featured an Amazonian warrior lead - Laura Cruz.

    Upon being told they needed to make the game more "UK-friendly", the team of Core Design opened the Derbyshire phonebook to vote on a new 'English' name. Lara Croft won.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 2

    A technological evolution

    The original Lara Croft model used around 540 rendered polygons.

    Now? Something in the region of 50,000.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 3

    Croft's accidental physique

    The Core design team had never intended to give the original 1996 Lara Croft entirely 'real' proportions - realism wasn't possible with the graphics on offer.

    But an alteration that was supposed to adjust Croft's chest by 50 per cent saw it slip to 150. The team felt that it was an improvement, and so the soon-to-be-iconic bosom stayed.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 4

    Lara Croft went out with Jez on Peep Show

    Well, sort of...

    Shelley Blond, the original voice actress for the original Tomb Raider (1996), also played Michelle in the Peep Show episode Mugging

    The original Tomb Raider was Blond's only appearance in the franchise, with her other notable screen appearance as Cold Feet's Geraldine Hughes.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 5

    Stamp appeal

    Lara Croft's pop culture appeal was instantaneous. In the months following her launch, she appeared on the covers of NewsweekTIME, the Financial Times and The Face. CORE's character received a bucket-load of endorsement requests, and even went on to appear on a French postage stamp. 

    Which is weird. 

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 6

    There was never a naked Lara code

    Despite what your mate Chris told you back in 1998, there wasn''t a cheat code that would cause Lara's clothes to disappear.

    The design team at Core games had never developed a 'nude' frame for Lara, but later fan-made PC mods eventually allowed grubby teens see the British explorer in the buff. The pervs.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 7

    The short-lived music career

    Lara Croft has an album. The reason it passed you by? It was only released in France.

    Lara Croft: Female Icon, sees Rhona Mitra provide lyrics, while Dave Stewart - former guitarist and singer of Eurythmics - composed and produced.

    It's incredibly bad, overtly sexual and you can hear all of it here.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 8

    Not a one-trick pony

    There have been 23 'official' games to carry the title of Tomb Raider or be associated with Lara Croft - 11 on consoles and PC, and 12 on handheld devices.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 9

    The game you probably didn't play

    The most obscure version of Tomb Raider

    That unlikely award goes to the port of the 1996 original to the ill-fated Nokia N-Gage. It featured a stripped-down story, but was an impressive attempt to bring Lara to your pocket. You can see it in action here.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 10

    A record breaker

    With lifetime sales of 36.88 million, Lara Croft holds the title of 'Best-selling videogame heroine'. 

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 11

    The 'other' reboot

    Kathryn Bigelow. Mimi Leder. Catherine Hardwicke. All names who've been tipped to direct the reboot of the Tomb Raider film series that starred Angelina Jolie. 

    Jolie won't return in the new film, which will apparently focus on a younger Lara, much like the new games. Earlier this year it was reported that Warner Bros. will team up with MGM to make the new film - but further details are yet to emerge. 

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 12

    Vital statistics?

    For some reason, Lara Croft actually had "proportion statistics" upon her creation.

    Her figure was purportedly 34D-24-35. 

    We've no idea why this information exists.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 13

    The many voices of Croft

    Five women have played Lara Croft in the video games: 

    • Shelley Blond (1996)
    • Judith Gibbins (1997–98)
    • Jonell Elliott (1999–2003)
    • Keeley Hawes (2006–)
    • Camilla Luddington (2013–)

    But another, more famed figure has lent her vocals to Lara: Minnie Driver voiced the 10-part animated series ReVisioned: Tomb Raider, broadcast on GameTap from 10 July to 13 November 2007. It was rubbish.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 14

    And the winner is...

    The Tomb Raider franchise has sold over 35 million copies in its lengthy history - with the most successful individual game being 2013's reboot, Tomb Raider.

    The Crystal Dynamics title shifted over a million copies in its first 48 hours of launch, and has sold in the region of 8.5 million units to date.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 15

    The comics

    Lara Croft has had a long, successful career away from the screen.

    Top Cow Productions published Lara's comics between 1999 to 2005, in which she played out some of the events of her major games and teamed up with supernatural homicide detective Witchblade and other female Top Cow characters.

    A new series of comics tying into the 2013 reboot were also published by Dark Horse.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 16

    Two are better than one

    Two women actually play Lara Croft in 2013's Tomb Raider and the new Rise of the Tomb Raider - Camilla Luddington provides Croft's voice, while model Megan Farquhar provides her performance-captured animations. 

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 17

    Pen friends

    A host of names have written for the Tomb Raider series over the years.

    Vicky Arnold handled the script for the first three titles, before Eric Lindstrom and Toby Gard took over. 

    The most recent Tomb Raider saw Rhianna Pratchett and Susan O'Connor handle the gritty, origin story of young Lara Croft, with Pratchett returning as writer for the new title Rise of the Tomb Raider.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 18

    Poor Winston

    While the early Tomb Raider titles didn't include a nudity cheat, there was a neat trick on offer in the second and third instalments.

    Walking around Croft Manor, Lara would be followed by her butler Winston, holding a tea tray. He didn't mean any harm, but he could get a touch irksome.

    By running into the walk in freezer, the butler Winston would trot along in tow. If the player was able to close the door before he exited, he'd be trapped, preventing him from rattling along behind you.

    Poor lad.

  • 20 things you didn't know about Lara Croft 19

    Rise and rise again

    The new game, Rise of the Tomb Raider will initially be an Xbox One and Xbox 360 exclusive when it arrives on 13 November.

    The game will arrive on other formats though, with Microsoft snaring an early exclusive. A PC version will be released in early 2016, with PlayStation 4 owners having to wait until late 2016. 

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David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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