in 1996, Tomb Raider caused a sensation and created
the first true superstar of the 3D gaming era - Lara Croft.
Hired by the mysterious
and powerful Jacqueline Natla, Lara must find the mythical
Scion of Atlantis.
Superb level design
and engrossing game play set Tomb Raider apart from
the crowd and set a template for other 3D games to follow.
Looking blocky and slow by comparison with today's games,
Tomb Raider is still a great deal of fun to play, thanks
to its excellent atmosphere and challenging puzzles.
Released a year after the first game, Tomb Raider II
cemented Lara Croft as a true gaming megastar.
This time Lara sets
out to find the Dagger of Xian, a mystical weapon that can
turn its owner into a dragon.
faster gameplay and an exciting storyline meant it sold in
buckets! Devotees of the first instalment complained about
the more frequent gunplay and less, er, tombs, but many
believe that the series hit its peak with this outing.
Raider III was released in 1998 and, some say, marked
the beginning of the end for the franchise.
around the world from London to Area 51 to Antarctica and
everywhere in between, Lara must find pieces of a meteorite
before 'the baddies'.
Raider III was much more difficult to play than the
previous iterations, with gruesome death waiting after every
wrong turn, it seemed. With new graphical mechanics allowing
for a less blocky environment, the game certainly looked
better, but the gameplay suffered, with Lara becoming
twitchy and prone to falling to her death if you stepped on
the wrong piece of scenery.
to please fans with a surprise twist, Eidos and Core were
surprised by the negative reaction to the climax of Tomb
Raider: The Last Revelation.
to the tried-and-tested theme of exploring and, of course,
raiding tombs, Last Revelation takes place entirely
in Egypt. Lara, reunited with her aging mentor, Werner Von
Croy, is tasked to defeat the god, Set, who has been
released from imprisonment, ironically, by Lara herself!
new inventory and loading/saving system, Last Revelation
was technically the most advanced of the series. While it
was an improvement over the third game, it still failed to
capture the spirit of the first.
final outing of the 'old generation' for Lara, Tomb
Raider Chronicles saw her life being remembered by her
old friends. Using pretty much the same engine as Last
Revelation, it looked pretty nice for the clunky old
consoles, but was it any good to play?
the game was perhaps the least playable of the series so
far, with terrible camera angles making some puzzles almost
impossible to solve. Lara may be dead in the game (or was
she?), but was this her final death rattle in real life?
Raider: Angel of Darkness was Lara's first outing on
next-generation consoles and promised great graphics and
gameplay. Did it deliver?
to survive being trapped in an Egyptian tomb, Lara finds
herself framed for the murder of Von Croy in Paris.
Discovering that a secret society was behind the killing,
she sets out to clear her name.
with bugs and terrible controls, Angel of Darkness
was an unmitigated disaster for the franchise and resulted
in Core losing its creation. It looked nice and still sold
millions of copies, though...
the future of tomb raiding handed to American developer,
Crystal Dynamics, would the series get back on track in
a pair of almost hopeless assistants, Lara has the task of
finding pieces of the sword of King Arthur, Excalibur. Along
the way she must tackle with various baddies and the odd
graphics and clever level design made Tomb Raider: Legend
the shot in the arm that the franchise needed. While some
complained about the cliff-hanger ending and others felt
that the game was too short, most delighted in the return to
exploring ancient tombs and solving puzzles to progress
further. Lara is reborn...
Raider: Anniversary hit the streets in 2007 and had fans
salivating at the thought of playing Lara's first adventure
with modern technology powering her.
Legend engine, favourite levels, such as The Lost
Valley and St. Francis' Folly have never looked better and
Lara moved with fluidity and grace.
was a resounding success and sold by the bucket-load. Some
fans have voiced concerns, though, that some of the sections
were too frustrating and that this marred what would be an
all-time great game.
Tomb Raider: Underworld was
released in January 2009 to much fanfare. Maybe it was the
current global climate or something else, but the game's
sales were lower than expected by Eidos.
The game itself was
great fun and a good return to old-fashioned Lara Croft
game took us from Croft Manor to Thailand, the Mediterranean
and the Arctic.
comparatively poor sales have cast a cloud over Lara's
future and talk of 'rebooting' the franchise is rife. What
will Lara's next adventure entail? We will have to wait and
March, 2011, Eidos released the Tomb Raider Trilogy
pack for the PlayStation 3. This constitutes high definition
updates of Tomb Raider: Legend and Tomb Raider
Anniversary, as well as a copy of Tomb Raider:
Underworld. It's only for completists or those who only
own a PS3, really, as high definition versions of the games
were already available for XBox360.
December, 2010, Square-Enix announced the tenth Tomb Raider
game. Simply entitled Tomb Raider, it is a reboot of
the franchise, where we see a young Lara Croft shipwrecked
on a scary island.
The game was finally
released in March 2013 and it was well worth the wait. A
gripping story and glorious visuals (even better with the
January 2014 release for PlayStation 4 and XBox One!!) made
this highly replayable reboot an absolute delight.
HERE FOR A CLOSER LOOK AT
On 9th June, 2014, two
new Tomb Raider games were announced! A sequel to the
arcadey Guardian of Light, entitled Lara Croft and
the Temple of Osiris and, more importantly, the
follow-up to 2013's Tomb Raider. Called Rise of
the Tomb Raider (not sure about that title, to be
completely honest), all we have is a preview trailer, but
it's exciting news. Click the images below for the trailers:
Lara's pixellated outings are mostly remembered on the
PlayStation consoles, indeed, Sony tried to make her
exclusive to their gaming range of machines, Tomb Raiders
have been able to get their adventure fix over many
Raider was originally released on the Sega Saturn before
making the move to PS1, Mac and PC. PC and Mac owners later
had the luxury of extra levels in the form of the
Unfinished Business and Shadow of the Cat
bonus features. In 2003, Tomb Raider was released for
Nokia's hand-held console, the N-Gage. There is also a
version for Pocket PC.
Raider II had console exclusivity on the PS1, but the PC
release (with smoother, higher resolution graphics) also
came with a bonus feature add-on - The Golden Mask.
Raider III was released in 1998 on PS1, PC and Mac.
Again, non-PS1 gamers had extras, this time in the form of
The Lost Artefact.
their exclusive deal, Sony had to grin and bear it as, in
1999, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation was released
on PS1, Sega Dreamcast, PC and Mac. British newspaper,
The Times, teamed up with Eidos to commission a bonus
level called, imaginatively, The Times Exclusive Level.
Tomb Raider Chronicles was released for PS1, Dreamcast,
PC and Mac. Home computer owners had great fun with the
level editor that came with the PC and Mac release. Soon
thousands of new levels, each playable as standalone games,
were available over the internet.
Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness came out for the
PS2, PC and Mac. The less said about that, the better!
Raider: Legend (2006) had the widest format release of
any of the previous games, being made available for PS2, PC,
Xbox, Xbox 360, PSP, Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo GameBoy
Advance, Nintendo DS and for mobile phones. The handheld
versions of the game differ greatly from the other releases.
Raider: Anniversary had releases on PC, PS2, PSP and
Nintendo Wii. The game was also available to download via
the Steam system. Later, a version for the XBox 360 was
released. This could be bought through retailers or
downloaded via XBox Live, although a copy of Tomb Raider:
Legend was required for this option.
Raider: Underworld had releases on PC, PS2, PS3, XBox
360, Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii. Downloadable content for
XBox 360 is also available. There
are also mobile phone versions of the game.
has also released several Tomb Raider games for the
GameBoy Colour handheld machine. These are
Tomb Raider, Tomb
Raider: The Nightmare Stone,
Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword
Tomb Raider: The Prophecy
for the GameBoy Advance.
2001, Lara Croft burst onto the big screen in the curvaceous
form of Angelina Jolie.
clues left by her dead father (played by Ms Jolie's
real-life dad, John Voight), Lara must track down The
Triangle of Light, an ancient artefact of great power that
is also being sought by the Illuminati.
good box office, but almost universally panned by the
critics, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a good fantasy
adventure film. Jolie is excellent as Lara Croft, with all
the right, er, assets and a passable English accent.
movie dips in the quiet moments, it's the action set-pieces
that really save it. From the training robot opening to the
battle against the Cambodian statues, it's not the worst way
to spend a couple of hours.
2003, Angelina pulled on the skin-tight catsuits once more
for Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.
find Pandora's Box, which is hidden away in The Cradle of
Life, the place on Earth from where all life sprang. Racing
against evil scientist/businessman, Jonathan Reiss, Lara
globetrots to Kazakhstan, China and Africa, dodging death at
Concentrating more on action than raiding tombs, Cradle
of Life is less satisfying (in my opinion) than the
first film. There are some spectacular set-pieces, as one
would expect from director, Jan (Speed) DeBont, but
it feels more like a James Bond film than a Lara Croft
adventure. It's not a bad movie, though, and Jolie has made
the role of Lara Croft her own.
Tomb Raider movie is planned, with Angelina Jolie
not signing on to portray Lara Croft for a third
It looks like the next Tomb Raider movie will be an origins
tale, scheduled for release in 2013. See
here for more details.
LARA ON VIDEO
2001, an officially-sanctioned DVD appeared on the market.
It was called
Lara Croft: Lethal and Loaded
and it told the story of Tomb Raider from its
beginnings up to the impending release of Angel of
Darkness. As well as looking at how the games were
created and the impact of Lara Croft, we also take a look at
Tomb Raider fandom, with mixed results.
2006, an interactive DVD,
Lara Croft Tomb Raider - An Action
Adventure Interactive DVD Game, was
released, based on the critically-panned Angel of
Darkness game, but playable on standard DVD players.
In 2007, internet gaming
website, Gametap, commisioned a ten-part animated series,
entitled Re/Visioned: Tomb Raider Animated Series.
They can be viewed on
about the same time, Gametap released a 40-minute
documentary about Tomb Raider, to celebrate the
franchise's tenth anniversary. It can be viewed on
LARA IN PRINT
as soon as Tomb Raider became a massive hit, Eidos
saw an opportunity to expand Lara Croft's universe beyond
the games. In 1998, Lara guest-starred in Witchblade,
a comic published by Top Cows Productions. The cross-over
was so successful that in December, 1999, the Tomb Raider
comic hit the shelves. It ran for 50 issues, until 2005,
with numerous one-off specials or short-run additions and
cross-overs, and was a huge hit. I haven't read all of them,
but what I have seen are very well-drawn and have exciting
Naturally, there are
many, many walkthroughs and game guides avialbale for
purchase for each game. Far too many to list here.
2001, Carlton Books released The Official Tomb Raider
Files, a hardback reference book with listings about
Lara, the games, enemies and all that stuff. Here's the
Amazon product description: "The Official Tomb Raider Files
features the story so far for Lara Croft, files of her
missions and battles, accompanied by an incredible 150
stunning screengrabs from the games. There is a detailed and
highly-illustrated profile of Lara herself, including the
true story about her aristocratic upbringing, and her
journey into the tough and thrilling world of tomb raiding.
In addition there are biographies of her friends and enemies
and features on her weapons, outfits, vehicles and training
as well as puzzles and games related to Tomb Raider, and the
problem-solving just as Lara herself encounters in the
games. It's all here for the dedicated fan, an essential buy
in a year dominated by Lara, an absolute must-have for all
gamers who are Tomb Raider mad and love Lara Croft."
In 2004, Eidos partnered
with Del Rey/Ballantine Books and released three novels:
The Amulet of Power, The Lost Cult and The Man
of Bronze. I admit to having read none of these, so I
cannot pass judgement. I am trying to get hold of a copy of
each that won't cost me an arm and a leg!
Of course, I've had a bash at a short story featuring Lara
Croft. Click below to read it.
here for HTML version
of Zero Point