Are you looking to get something for that special Tomb Raider fan in your life, but don’t want to go to eBay, Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Half.com, or one of dozens of other similar sites? Well, you’re in luck, because Square-Enix studio Crystal Dynamics recently opened the official Tomb Raider online store to serve as your one stop shop for all things Tomb Raider related. Of course, the store really only carries merchandise related to the upcoming Tomb Raider game so fans of the earlier games in the series are out of luck. Also, most of the items are related to the game the same way adoptive parents are related to their kid, in that you aren’t going to be able to see any familial resemblance. The store has strategy guides, limited edition controllers, and even a small assortment of Tomb Raider related clothing items. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a single neon blue tank top or pair of khaki short shorts in stock.
To be fair, some of the stuff in the store probably is of interest to Tomb Raider fans. You can find the official soundtrack and a pretty impressive art book amongst all the rubbish, and there are other niche items that might appeal to the more hardcore Tomb Raider enthusiasts (A $65 action figure with interchangeable hands? Hell no, my kids don’t need to eat this month!). However, if you want to find the really good stuff, you have to check out the clothing. You might anticipate that a video game company would have absolutely no idea how to design a decent shirt, and you’d be absolutely, 100% correct. The majority of the stuff things here the Salvation Army wouldn’t even take as donations, and the best part is even people that worked on the game would probably have a hard time identifying most of this stuff as Tomb Raider merchandise. In fact, lets take a look through at some of the best of the worst of the clothing the store offers. You would just look silly if you showed up to pick up your copy of the Tomb Raider game without some sort of shirt that lets the clerk know what you’re there for.
Item: Men’s Escape Raglan
Target Audience: Confused grandparents who have no idea what Tomb Raider is, fans of ‘esc’ keys
If you were trying to think of an image that captures the essence of the Tomb Raider games for fans of the series, what would you go with? Perhaps a silhouette of Lara herself? Maybe scenery from one of the iconic or beautiful backdrops of the game? Or would you quit brainstorming because creativity is hard and just go with a picture of an escape key? The Tomb Raider store went with the last option, but only because they couldn’t get the licensing rights from the soft drink company to make a tab key shirt. What does an escape key have to do with Tomb Raider, you might ask? Well the men and women who made it have computers don’t they? And they all have escape keys! You ever think of that, SMART GUY? I admit, it has been a couple of years since I last played a Tomb Raider game, but I have no memory of an escape key playing any significant role in Lara’s back story. Maybe in her newest adventure Lara runs into a tribe of primal escape keys looking to sacrifice her to their god, the vengeful delete key, because that is pretty much the only way this shirt could be considered official Tomb Raider gear.
More likely, this was meant to play on the themes of “survival, exploration, and resilience” that are main focuses of the game, but if that’s the case then this was done in the most clumsy way possible. No one is going to look at that shirt and think, “Oh, like how Lara needs to ESCAPE from that island in the upcoming Tomb Raider game. What a subtle way to show off they’re a fan of the series!” More likely it will be, “Escape key? Does he really like computers or social isolation?”
Target Audience: Bodybuilders from Plymouth, fans of old English barquentines
This at least is kind of related to the newest Tomb Raider game, in that the Endurance is the ship Lara is on and Plymouth is its port. If you knew that, then either you worked on the game or you’re a liar. Nobody is going to want to buy Tomb Raider related clothing that is so esoterically related to the series that you need to Google the shirt to make sure it wasn’t accidentally uploaded to the wrong website. You need some sort of iconic, flashy imagery, or really anything that isn’t just one word that is so so commonplace it could be referring to just about anything.
These sorts of shirts aren’t going to appeal to anyone, least of all the models they paid to wear them. Look how miserable that guy looks. That’s the face of a petulant kid being forced to wear the ugly sweater his grandmother bought him because she’s coming to town to visit. It isn’t just this image either, as nearly every photo features a model with a look of utter disdain, like modelling official Tomb Raider clothing rendered them physically incapable of smiling. Here is a small smattering of the models’ faces, and remember: you are not looking through a police line-up.
I’m not even positive that guy isn’t suffering from sort sort of facial paralysis. He seems utterly incapable of making any other face. Want me to blow your mind? Check out the second and forth pictures and the top row. I didn’t make a mistake and include the same photo twice in the montage; those are actually different pictures. Look at his bangs in each photo. He just always has the same disgusted look on his face when wearing this line of clothing apparently. These are the looks people should give when they’re trapped on an elevator with someone who just farted, not when you’re trying to lure people into buying your clothing. At least the woman looks happy in the bottom row on the far right. I wonder what she’s modelling?
Item: Ladies Survivor Dolman (a.k.a. Face Shirt)
Target Audience: The clinically insane, blind people
THAT IS NOT A REAL SHIRT. I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THAT IS A SHIRT.
Who could possibly want to wear that? And how was this the only photo they took with someone smiling in it? Is it to try and distract you from the terror of the face on her shirt? Or is she just nervously smiling because she’s afraid the photographer is going to kill her? I get the game’s main theme is one of perseverance and survival, but who could possibly want to wear a shirt with a picture of a woman’s battered face on it? That looks like it should be on a poster advocating against domestic violence, not on something I’d put on part of my body. Ordering that shirt gets you automatically placed on a government watch list and wearing that shirt is a great way to announce to everyone that you just put a new addition on to your torture dungeon.
You can check out the full store here and see all the Tomb Raider goodies for yourself. Or you can just use Google or eBay and find pretty much all the items except probably the face shirt. Any one who ordered that is probably in jail and doesn’t have the ability to list things on eBay.
UPDATE: After playing through the game, we can now confirm that the “escape key” t-shirt is actually a shirt one of the supporting characters in the game wears. He, of course, is the computer expert because people who do stuff with computers totally only wear shirts to signify they do stuff with computers, right? So, instead of being ugly and pointless, it is now just ugly. The good news is if you want to wear the same shirt as some ancillary character whose name you’ll have forgotten in a month, you totally can. Just don’t expect anyone else to know what you’re referencing.