By Gary Eng Walk
December 04, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

Dear Ms. Croft,
You’re a phenom, the star of Tomb Raider III: The Adventures of Lara Croft. So what I say may anger your fans, who I hear include the likes of U2 and Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s this: You’re getting too big for your own good. And I’m not talking about your Pamela Lee-humbling figure.

It wasn’t always like this. When you started, in 1996’s Tomb Raider, I marveled at how you scampered around ancient temples and rappelled down chasms to collect priceless artifacts. Now look at you: Your first two games have sold 9 million copies, you have a movie coming out next fall, an action-figure line, even a coffee-table book by Gen-X spokesnovelist Douglas Coupland. Never mind your fans’ questions (Are you really dating a Baldwin?), mine’s more important: Did you forget your day job — you know, the one in Tomb Raider III? The graphics are sharper than ever, but you spend more time raiding un-tomb-like settings like Area 51 and downtown London than the dusty archaeological sites where you’re at your best. Then there are the vaunted 3-D environments: They’re so big that I barely know where to go. Somewhat perversely, I love the ways you perish — run over by a subway car, eaten by piranhas. Still, I’d rather help you live. Not that you’ll have trouble: TRIII will doubtless be massive this Christmas. But it’ll be because of Lara Croft, not Tomb Raider. C-

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