So the last couple days I've been in a Tomb Raider mood, and that got me thinking about the 2013 reboot. I enjoyed the game a lot, but something about it had always felt a little off, in particular something about Lara's characterization. It'd been bothering me since the game came out, but I only fully realized what bothered me about it a few days ago.
In her original backstory, (as described in the booklet for the very first game) Lara is the wealthy, pampered daughter of an aristocratic family. After surviving a plane crash that leaves her stranded in the Himalayas, she finds herself profoundly changed, and discovers that the danger and excitement of cheating death makes her feel more alive than anything she's ever felt. She enjoys it; enjoys it so much that in the first game's opening, after a collector tries to buy her treasure-finding services, she replies that she "only plays for sport."
In the years since, her origins have been altered and ret-conned a number of times, but all of them have contained that original core, portraying a Lara who despite whatever difficulty or pain she's put through on her adventures, still sees them as adventures; a character for whom the thrill of "tomb raiding" is such that she's going to keep coming back to it, regardless of how uncomfortable it might be at times.
This is a sentiment entirely lacking in the 2013 game. This Lara survives a series of brutal, traumatic, and increasingly horrible events, and finds herself capable of things (good and bad) she never expected. But even in her occasional moments of triumph, we never really get the feeling that she actually likes anything she's doing.
For old-school Lara jumping pits, outrunning boulders, escaping falling platforms-- basically anything that pits her against death-- that all excited her, was something she got a kick out of. But for this new Lara, that's stuff that frightens, hurts, and exhausts her; sure, it drives her, but only in the survival-sense.
Both the original and the reboot origin-stories begin with her surviving a traumatic event that leaves her too changed to go back to her former life; but in the end old Lara keeps going because she honestly loves at least part of what she's doing; reboot-Lara keeps going because it seems the only thing she can do.
So as interesting and well-acted as this new Lara is, she's missing that one aspect that-- even over several decades and multiple incarnations-- has always made Lara, Lara.