Wracked with PTSD over her own brushes with death, she justified her killing spree as a necessity to survive.
By the time we get to Rise of the Tomb Raider proper, any reluctance she might've had to put herself through it all again is gone. Admittedly, if you're going to be wanky and needlessly over-thoughtful about it all, repeating patterns of destructive behaviour is something we all do, until we find the strength to break that cycle, or hit rock bottom.
But there's no sign of that ever happening with the Tomb Raider series. The necessity of being a video game character means that Lara Croft has to kill, for ever, without end... yet in Rise of the Tomb Raider there's a glee to Lara's murdering. It's not a necessity; when she kills, she she seems unhinged. It's ugly, brutal.
It's a mixed message.
The sense we get in the cut-scenes, and with the shivering, grunting, bruised and battered Lara we see outside of her killing spree, is someone who's vulnerable, a victim. The game throws her off of cliffs, collapses buildings on top of her, blows her up... and those are just the things she survives. She's tortured by the game, and there's a disconnect between the character you play as, and the character you watch in scripted sequences.
But then, Lara Croft has always been a mix of contradictions - wanting us to believe one thing, while presenting us with something wholly other.
Back in the 90s, Lara Croft was a feminist icon, we were told. Despite being created by men, despite having massive, triangular boobies, and wearing a pair of shorts so tiny that they left no polygon to the imagination, we were told that she was the embodiment of "girl power".
She appeared on the cover of The Face magazine, and in Loaded pin-ups, in bikinis blowing kisses... she traded on her sexuality, and was strong, smart, and deadly.
There was no conflict within that version of Lara Croft. She shot at tigers and dinosaurs, and the occasional human opponent, and never stopped to consider what it meant. Her more primitive design - by necessity of the technology at hand - rendered her iconic. We never needed to go deeper.
Though it's questionable as to whether she was iconic in a feminist sense, through her simplicity, she seemed comfortable with her sexuality. Flirtatious almost. Plus she was badass.
Certainly, Tomb Raider broke ground in terms of putting a female action hero front and centre of a video game, and it had more than a few female fans, but I always struggled with the idea that Lara Croft represented whatever "girl power" was meant to be. It felt like publisher Eidos was trying to have their cake and eat it; present male gamers with a sexy girl character, while assuring female gamers that she was a strong female role model.
With hindsight, it's pretty clear what was going on, and now we're told - once again - that Lara Croft is a feminist icon... though this time, she really is a feminist icon, not like the fake one she was before...
These days, Lara is written by a woman, wears long trousers, and conceals her modesty beneath sweaters and puffy jackets, and goes to see a therapist. She's got a clearly outlined motivation for her adventures (though some of her video game-style actions start to muddy the waters), and is - so we're told repeatedly - damaged by them, physically and emotionally.
I'm all for characters who have some depth, so why does the new version of Lara sit even more uncomfortably with me than her previous incarnation?
Obviously, I'm not a woman and never have been. No... really.
I may have an abundance of sisters, daughters and nieces, but I can't speak from a woman's perspective. I'm pretty sure I treat women as equally as I can... with the caveat that all of us have our own relationship with gender that can influence us in ways we don't consciously realise.
Lara's creator Toby Gard wanted to exploit that. He told Critical Path that he wanted players to feel protective towards Lara: "That sense of protection is something that I didn't think people had capitalized on in games before."
Is that what we want from female characters in games? I certainly feel protective towards the idea of Lara Croft as a character who's a female role model, but the Lara in Rise of the Tomb Raider isn't one that I'd ever want my daughter's aspiring to.
Weirdly, the previous Lara never gave me any issue on that front, other than a sense of "Pull the other one" with regard to her being a 'riot grrrrl', or whatever they wanted us to believe.
Ultimately, I think it boils down to the disconnect with story and action.
There's a great moment in Austin Powers where it suddenly cuts away from the main story, following the death of a henchman beneath a steamroller, to witness the impact on his family. It deliberately draws attention to the mindless slaughter in most action movies.
Likewise that moment in Kevin Smith's Clerk's where they discuss how many innocent contractors died when the Death Star blew up. There's a reason that doesn't happen in the Star Wars films. Because it would be ludicrous, and introduce a level of emotional heft that would blot out everything else that's going on.
Rise of the Tomb Raider does the same thing, but without the virtue of being a knockabout comedy. Rise of the Tomb Raider is almost jaw-clenchingly serious and heavy, with a main character who is painfully, visibly, vulnerable to her environment. The violence is - oddly - more brutal than I can remember seeing in a game, because they've tried to make it feel real.
Space Invaders never wanted us to think about the effect of being blown up, and never revelled in the grisly deaths of its antagonists. Most games don't.
I think most gamers play games in a state of dissociation, and the second you try to pull them out of that, video games get weird.
In Rise of the Tomb Raider we see how much it hurts when Lara falls off a mountain. Thus, it makes it all the more absurd when - thirty seconds later - she's diving between points of cover, and swinging her pickaxe into her opponents' brains, and stabbing them in the throat, like nothing happened.
On the one hand it wants us to revel in this being a video game, while on the other almost feeling ashamed of it. It aspires to give us a rounded, cinematic character, but that isn't what video games need, or demand. Quite the opposite.
Rise gives us a Lara Croft who is simultaneously frail and psychotic. Somehow, the character is now more bland and lacking in personality than ever.
There's never a moment where she undercuts the action, like Duke Nukem or a Nathan Drake. Instead, she draws your attention to how absurd it all is.
This is a video game, not a movie, where the story is controlled and linear. The only way this approach would've worked better for me was to have a version of the game where Lara Croft doesn't kill anyone. Put more of a focus on the sublime platforming, and non-lethal takedowns, and we'd buy her PTSD at being shot at. Give us a Lara who won't kill.
That's a female role-model we can all aspire to... rather than one who does everything that male video game characters do... but then whinges about it, and who shivers when she's cold.
But then... maybe a Lara who doesn't kill men isn't what they want for a feminist icon. Unfortunately, there's no other way to reconcile the demands and events of a video game with how a real person - female or otherwise - would feel about them.
I feel that making Lara more real damages her as a video game character, and as a strong female role model. They say that you should never meet your heroes, and in Rise of the Tomb Raider we really get to meet Lara. Sadly, seeing her as a real person reduces her as an icon, and weakens her as a character.