If the promotional shots and casting choices are any indications, the new 2018 Tomb Raider film starring Alicia Vikander and Dominic West the rebooted film franchise has the chance to be a real hit. Before the announcement of the film, the Tomb Raider video game series was already and successfully rebooted in 2013 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and the PC.
Prior to said reboots, Lara Croft made her first appearance on the Sega Saturn and PlayStation with the very first Tomb Raider, which released in 1996. The Tomb Raider series went on to completely redefine the standard for 3D adventure games, thus making Lara one of the most recognizable video game icons of all time.
Along with being responsible for pioneering a mainstream female video game protagonist in a predominately male led video gaming era, the Tomb Raider series has sold over 58 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most successful gaming franchises.
So, with the new film out next year and (based on various leaks) a soon new main entry games release in the worlds, named Shadow of The Tomb Raider,video game in the works let’s take a look 8 of the best and 7 of the worst games in the Tomb Raider series.
15 Best: Tomb Raider Underworld
Prior to the 2012 reboot, Tomb Raider: Underworld was probably the best looking game in the series. Just like Tomb Raider: Legends, Underworld successfully combined old school Lara Croft with a game that played like a modern cinematic action adventure similar to the Uncharted franchise.
Tomb Raider: Underworld’s sense of exploration and its semi-open environments were more explorable than any previous entries in the franchise. A particular standout for the series was the combat and its clever implementation of quick-time mechanics that actually worked well, allowing you to perform headshots, or take out two enemies at once.
14 Worst: Tomb Raider Chronicles
Tomb Raider: Chronicles was intended as a prequel of sorts playing out some the game’s story in flashback form, because after the events of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation you’re meant to assume that Lara is dead.
From a gameplay perspective, Tomb Raider: Chronicles is more of the same, but unfortunately, fans had started to get tired of the franchise in its current form, and the series started to look more stale than ever. In addition, the series continued to focus more on the awful stealth mechanics that was featured in previous titles, while scaling back the puzzle elements that fans had come to enjoy.
It’s not just the unwanted stealth sections that frustrate, but the stupid and unfair difficulty level that was prominent in Tomb Raider 3 is back too. Chronicles is full of stages that will induce more rage and frustration, and rather than the feeling of accomplishment you'd find in tough but fair games, you’ll either get a sense of relief never to play the game again, or you'll throw the disc in the bin.
13 Best: Tomb Raider Anniversary
Despite Tomb Raider: Anniversary coming out eleven years after the original Tomb Raider, released to celebrate the ten year anniversary of the 3D action adventure series. Anniversary is a re-imagining of the first game which includes all the original environments and the storyline.
Graphically, Tomb Raider: Anniversary is very similar looking to Tomb Raider: Legend, but the development team added in new gameplay elements such as pole swinging and more. Aside from Lara, the biggest draw that fans will definitely appreciate is the amount of exploration required to unlock all of the game's secret content.
12 Worst: Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness
The release of Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness on the PlayStation 2 was meant to mark the beginning of a new trilogy for the series. There was already a sequel in the works titled The Lost Dominion, but the reception for Angel of Darkness was so bad that the sequel and the plans for the new trilogy were completely scrapped, almost derailing the franchise for good.
Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness is generally considered the absolute worst entry the in the series. The game's story was heavily criticized for its narrative and unsatisfying ending. While the game once again relied on the awful stealth controls found in the prior entries. The RPG-lite strength upgrades were completely unnecessary and the games combat system and poor controls were a battle within themselves and the game became a chore rather than a joy to play.
11 Best: Tomb Raider Legend
Tomb Raider Legends was the seventh entry in the Tomb Raider franchise and marked a return to form for the series and was considered the first series reboot for the franchise. Tomb Raider: Legends was, at the time, a more modern take on the classic tomb raiding formula that made the series so popular in the first place. Additionally, Legends featured a very strong and cinematic narrative that complimented the adventurous gameplay perfectly.
Tomb Raider: Legends' gameplay also featured vastly improved controls that were easy to get to grips with, yet made Lara every bit the acrobatic athlete she’s supposed to be. Considering it was released in 2006 the game still looks polished to this day.
10 Worst: Tomb Raider The Prophecy (GBA)
Before the Tomb Raider series nailed the isometric viewpoint with Guardian of The Light, the series had a number of missteps. The first among them was Tomb Raider: The Prophecy, which was released on the Nintendo Gameboy Advance back in 2002.
The gameplay was solid and easy to pick up, and the combat was quite simplistic to pull off because of an automatic lock on feature, it was, however, let down by its extreme repetitiveness. The game’s biggest let down was, perhaps, the lack of a battery back-up saving system, meaning you can only access specific points in the game through the use of passwords, but this also meant losing all of Lara’s weapons.
9 Best: Tomb Raider (2013)
The 2013 version of Tomb Raider was a complete reboot that focused on new origins story for Lara Croft. The game’s narrative focused on the development of Lara’s character as she learns to survive and rescue her friends from the clutches of a malevolent cult. The game implemented many of what the original series had become synonymous with, yet it created an identity of its own by successfully combining horror, stealth, and survival elements. Lara’s journey to become a hardened fighter and survivalist is a compelling one from the beginning to end.
The Tomb Raider reboot not only managed to be one of the best looking and playing action-adventure games of the last generation, but its Definitive Edition on the PlayStation 4 is still one of the best of its kind standing shoulder to shoulder with Nathan Drakes adventures in the Uncharted series.
8 Worst: Tomb Raider Legend (Nintendo DS)
Unlike the fantastic Tomb Raider: Legend on home consoles, the Nintendo DS version of the game didn’t work out quite as well. While the game worked well on the PSP, the DS’ lack of power and the added touch screen controls completely destroyed any potential tomb raiding fun this game may have had.
The tiny screen of the DS also seemed to work against the game too, with objects and platforms completely out of sight. The game provides an on-screen ‘X’ prompt to remedy this, but it reduced to the gameplay to almost patronizing levels, often feeling like quick-time events at times. Unfortunately, the game’ best moments are actually found in the action sequences like the motorbike chases, but what is a high point here, would likely be considered shallow on any other console.
7 Best: Guardian Of Light
Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light is an isometric arcade inspired two-player action arcade-inspired game which was quite the departure from the series standard of 3D adventure games. The departure proved to a successful one that allowed the player to control Lara or the Mayan tribesman Totec in single-player mode or separately in the games cooperative two player modes.
The game’s biggest weak point was a lackluster storyline, but Keely Hawe’s performance as Lara Croft is fantastically cool, calm, and collected. GoL's visuals and clever replayable levels make the game worth playing over and over thanks to its substantial reward system and puzzle-based mechanics. Despite their new mechanics, Guardian of Light and its sequel Temple of Osiris still feel very much like the Tomb Raider fans have come to know and love.
6 Worst: Tomb Raider 3
From a visual standpoint, Tomb Raider 3 is a slightly more innovative game that the series previous installments, ledge jumps were easier to identify and the exploration was still satisfying. However, the difficulty was ramped up to the point of being unfair and frustrating when compared to the first two Tomb Raider games. In fact, the game's difficulty was ramped up so high that critics accused the game of being a marketing ploy for the companion strategy guide that gamers would no doubt need if they wanted to play through the game properly.
In addition to the game’s difficulty, Tomb Raider 3 has a dull narrative, outdated controls that were counterproductive to the environments themselves, and the awful tacked-on stealth mechanics that were no doubt trying to cash in on the popularity of stealth games like Metal Gear Solid were a failure on every level.
5 Best: Tomb Raider Go
Lara’s latest adventures on mobile devices with Tomb Raider Go was a surprisingly well put together turn based platform-puzzler that was well-received by fans and critics alike. The game is composed of interconnected lines and nodes where the player takes control of Lara guiding her through the game’s environmental puzzles and enemies.
Tomb Raider Go has great, stylized visuals that manage to be both fresh and familiar to the series. The game features a ton of references to the mainline series and even showcases Lara’s classic ledge handstand animations from the classic originals. If there’s one major criticism it’s the game's length, but the clever design and decent challenge make Tomb Raider Go the perfect mobile game.
4 Worst: Tomb Raider Underworld (Nintendo DS)
Tomb Raider: Underworld for the Nintendo DS is a side-scrolling 2D platformer, but the game also did a decent job of bringing some 3D sections to Nintendo’s handheld console. However, the game’s muddy and dark visuals interfered with a lot of the game's platforming sections, forcing players to find their way through trail and error. Needless to say, it was an immensely frustrating experience.
The use of the Stylus was well implemented into the game's mechanics and the side-scrolling controls were responsive and easy to learn. However, the old-school gameplay is let down by the game’s predictable puzzles and traps.
3 Best: Tomb Raider (1996)
The very first game of the series was released in 1996 on the Sega Saturn and the PlayStation. Yet, despite the fact that the game’s graphics have visibly aged, the gameplay is still there. The mysterious environments still retain the same magic that they always did. The music holds up brilliantly as does most of the audio, adding to the game’s signature atmosphere.
Tomb Raider does a great job of making the player feel a sense of isolation as they control Lara through the open areas and caverns; the feeling of danger around every corner is always present. The encounters with dangerous animals such as bears, bats, lions, and even a Tyrannosaurus Rex will be waiting for you at some point. The game is a true classic that every adventure game fan should experience.
2 Worst: Tomb Raider 1 And 2 (IOS)
The first two Tomb Raider titles have been ported in their entirety onto the IOS. Both feature rich games that last around 15 hours each and sell for $0.99 each. The quality of such ports on IOS devices heavily depends on how well the original control scheme transfers over to the mobile devices touch screen. Sadly, the touchscreen controls for these two classic games is quite possibly one of the worst ever created.
Like most action-adventure games, every Tomb Raider is built upon the control system used to guide its main character, and without that, there really isn’t much left. It doesn’t matter that the games are appealing because of their nostalgic value or that they are full of content when the games are near impossible to play.
1 Best: Rise Of The Tomb Raider
Rise of the Tomb Raider is the continuation of the new rebooted adventures of Lara Croft and her ascension to the seasoned and hardened adventurer, that we all know and love. Just like the 2013 reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a dark, violent, and thrilling adventure from start to finish. The game was originally released on the Xbox One as a timed exclusive.
Rise of the Tomb Raider raised the bar set by the last game with an even better story, and combat mechanics were more versatile than before. One of the main complaints fans had with the previous outing was the lack of actual tombs to raid, but that’s been remedied with this installment with optional tombs hiding some of the best items in the game.