Lara Croft, the iconic protagonist of the Tomb Raider series, has been a symbol of tenacity and adventure since her inception. Over the years, the series has seen its ups and downs, with some games achieving monumental success and others facing criticism. As we anticipate the next Tomb Raider installment, let’s revisit the canonical titles of the series and discover which ones are the most beloved.
12. Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (52)
Released for PlayStation 2, this game aimed to bridge the gap between the old and new generations. However, it fell short of expectations. Despite its innovative ideas, the game suffered from technical glitches, a disjointed storyline, and outdated gameplay. It’s often regarded as one of the worst games on PlayStation 2, leading to a significant blow to the franchise’s reputation.
11. Tomb Raider Chronicles (63)
This fifth installment of the classic saga is often viewed as uninspired. While its predecessor, The Angel of Darkness, had potential but was released prematurely, Chronicles felt like a lazy effort. The game recycled assets and levels, offering little novelty.
10. Tomb Raider 3 (76)
This game marked a technical improvement over its predecessors, boasting detailed environments and enhanced gameplay mechanics. However, it faced criticism for its frustrating level design and lack of innovation.
9. Tomb Raider Underworld (80)
Concluding the first trilogy by Crystal Dynamics, Underworld beautifully blended open locations, underground spaces, and underwater settings. However, it struggled with camera issues and a convoluted gameplay experience.
8. Tomb Raider Legend (82)
This game marked Lara Croft’s return after a hiatus. With Toby Gard, the original creator, consulting on the project, Legend modernized the classic Tomb Raider formula. While it introduced fluid gameplay mechanics, its short duration and low difficulty level were points of contention.
7. Shadow of the Tomb Raider (82)
The final chapter of the “Survivor Trilogy,” this game delved into Lara’s vulnerabilities. Despite its intricate level design and compelling narrative, the combat mechanics felt disjointed.
6. Tomb Raider Anniversary (83)
A tribute to the 1996 classic, Anniversary balanced tradition with innovation. While it retained the charm of the original, it introduced new gameplay elements, making it a favorite among fans.
5. Tomb Raider 2 (85)
This sequel expanded the action component, introducing a broader arsenal and high-octane narrative sequences. Despite its advancements, some felt it lacked the exploration essence that defined the first game.
4. Rise of the Tomb Raider (86)
The middle chapter of the Survivor Trilogy, Rise of the Tomb Raider, was lauded for its detailed environments and gripping storyline. However, its monotonous setting was a point of critique.
3. Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (87)
Released in 1999, this installment took Lara Croft deep into Egypt’s heart. Players navigated iconic Egyptian landmarks, unraveling ancient myths. The game introduced new gameplay mechanics and delved into Lara’s past with her mentor, Werner Von Croy. Celebrated for its rich narrative and exploration, “The Last Revelation” remains a fan favorite in the series.
2. Tomb Raider 2013 (87)
In 2013, the Tomb Raider franchise was rejuvenated with a bold reboot. Developed by Crystal Dynamics, this installment presented a younger, less-experienced Lara Croft, stranded on the perilous island of Yamatai.
Character Evolution: This game showcased Lara’s transformation from a vulnerable survivor to a determined adventurer, providing depth to her origin story.
Gameplay Shift: Emphasizing survival, players navigated a semi-open world, crafting tools, hunting, and engaging in dynamic combat scenarios.
Narrative: The story intertwined Lara’s personal growth with the mysteries of Yamatai, blending ancient lore with modern challenges.
Reception: With its captivating narrative and revamped gameplay, Tomb Raider 2013 successfully reignited interest in the iconic series.
1. Tomb Raider 1996 (91)
In 1996, the gaming world was introduced to a character who would go on to become one of its most iconic figures: Lara Croft. Developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive, Tomb Raider was a groundbreaking title that set new standards for action-adventure games.
Setting and Atmosphere: The game transported players to a variety of locations, from the lost city of Atlantis to the majestic pyramids of Egypt. Each level was meticulously crafted with intricate details, creating an immersive atmosphere that was both mysterious and captivating. The ambient sounds, from the distant howl of wolves to the echoing drip of water in ancient caverns, added depth to the game’s environment.
Gameplay Mechanics: Tomb Raider was revolutionary in its gameplay mechanics. It introduced a 3D gaming environment where players could make Lara run, jump, climb, and swim through complex terrains. The game seamlessly blended platforming, action, and puzzle-solving elements. Players had to think critically, deciphering ancient clues and navigating treacherous traps to progress.
Narrative: The story followed Lara Croft, a fearless archaeologist, on her quest to find the Scion, an ancient artifact of immense power. Along the way, she faced both human and supernatural adversaries, uncovering a tale of betrayal and timeless power. The narrative was engaging, with cutscenes that added depth to the characters and the unfolding drama.
Legacy: Tomb Raider 1996 was not just a game; it was a cultural phenomenon. Lara Croft, with her dual pistols and indomitable spirit, became a symbol of empowerment. The game’s success led to numerous sequels, spin-offs, movies, and merchandise. It paved the way for female protagonists in gaming and showcased the potential of 3D environments in storytelling.
Opinion: Looking back, Tomb Raider 1996 was more than deserving of its acclaim. It was a perfect blend of challenging gameplay, compelling narrative, and atmospheric design. Even today, it stands as a testament to what video games can achieve in terms of immersion and emotional engagement. For many, including myself, it was not just a game but an unforgettable journey with Lara Croft.