Crystal Dynamics has continued to backpedal out of away from comments made by executive producer Ron Rosenberg that Lara would be the victim of attempted rape in the forthcoming Tomb Raider reboot and players would want to "protect" her.
In response to Rosenberg's quote, Crystal Dynamics global brand director Karl Stewart stated, "He said something which is certainly a word that is not in our vocabulary and not in our communication," in an interview with Kotaku.
Stewart distanced the comment from the game by claiming it was just his colleague's opinion. "He did say it... It's his personal opinion and certainly... like I said, it's not something that we communicate."
Instead, Stewart referred to the scene in question - where a filthy bandit rubs Lara's thigh menacingly - as a "pathological situation" and "close physical intimidation."
He admitted that this scene wouldn't have happened if the protagonist had been male, but denied that that inherently made it sexual assault. "By giving her motivation to become the stronger action-adventure hero and the girl that's willing to fight to stay alive and move forward throughout the game, we use that device and that intimidation to make her stronger. To make her feel empowered and to take her beyond that breaking point where she realises the severity of the situation and she's willing to fight to stay alive."
A PR rep shut down this line of questioning and stated, "Nothing sexual occurred. Violence occurred as a result of that. I just don't think you're going to get any further than what you're getting out of Karl."
Stewart also claimed Rosenberg's quotes about protecting Lara was the result of how the game had tested with focus groups, rather than telling players how to feel.
"We are not building a game where we're basically saying 'Hey... our goal is to have the player protect Lara.' That's your choice in playing the game. How you interpret it is your choice. What Ron is saying... that's the results from fairly significant amounts of play-testers."
Earlier this month Crystal Dynamnics head Darrell Gallagher claimed that "Sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game" in response to Rosenberg's comments.
"We take great care and pride in our work and are focused on creating a release that will deliver meaningful storytelling, drama, and exciting gameplay. We're sorry this has not been better explained, we'll certainly be more careful with what is said in future." And by careful, he means awkwardly tongue-tied.
The scene in question is featured below- make up your own mind.