Since it first hit the PlayStation back in the '90s, the Tomb Raider franchise has been one of the most notable in the world. The video games spawned movies and tons of merchandise. Lara Croft, the protagonist, has become an iconic figure in pop culture for the past few decades.
The series remains relevant to this day, with several films and rebooted video games being released in the last few years. Part of the reason that reboots were needed was that some of the entries into the franchise were met with mixed to negative reviews. But of course, it gained popularity because some of the games are stellar. We're picking 5 that are great and 5 that are the worst.
10 Worst: Tomb Raider: Curse Of The Sword
Even back when graphics weren't as gorgeous as they are these days, Tomb Raider thrived on the 3D environments the player was thrust into. Moving it to the world of the Game Boy Color wasn't exactly a way to nail the experience. The first installment was fine, but about a year later this sequel was released.
The main issue with Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword was that it didn't do anything new. It was basically the same game as the prior entry on the Game Boy Color, except with a different story and locations. That lack of originality hurt a game that was otherwise pretty solid.
9 Best: Shadow Of The Tomb Raider
The most recent entry on this list, Shadow of the Tomb Raider was released in September 2018. It marked the final leg of the rebooted trilogy for the franchise. This installment followed Lara Croft across the globe as she battled the evil Trinity organization and attempted to prevent a Mayan apocalypse.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider followed the trend of this new trilogy with thrilling gameplay and a captivating story. However, gamers also got a boost in terms of mind-bending puzzles and focus on Lara's character. It was met with widespread acclaim and found itself nominated for a handful of awards.
8 Worst: Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
A lot of fans hold the first three installments of the franchise in high esteem. It was when the fourth entry, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, arrived that things started to go downhill. They went an interesting route with the story, opting to focus on Lara's past, and the graphics were vastly improved.
That being said, the gameplay engine was growing tired by this point. Even with better graphics and a solid plot, nothing about this game brought anything new to the table. Forcing out a new game every year prevented some of them from being groundbreaking.
7 Best: Tomb Raider II
The holy grail of the early Core-developed Tomb Raider games. This sequel took everything that worked about the original and turned it up several notches. The game found Lara on the hunt for the ancient Dagger of Xian and it took her to places the first installment didn't dare to go.
Outside of tombs, Lara found herself infiltrating new locations and even had some stellar underwater adventures. Tomb Raider II felt like an impressive blockbuster action film. Even the simple training levels at Lara's mansion were memorable. There's a reason this remains one of the highest-selling games of all time.
6 Worst: Tomb Raider Chronicles
Take what we said about Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation and apply it here. Tomb Raider Chronicles followed that game up and fell victim to many of the same problems. It was another case of a game coming out a year after the previous installment, meaning it didn't have time to do something new.
The idea was that Lara was presumed dead and her friends recounted tales of her life at her memorial service. That plotline was the only thing that felt different. Everything else was just a retread. For further proof that the series was struggling, this sold just 1.5 million copies, which was way low compared to the previous games.
5 Best: Tomb Raider: Legend
After a 2003 bomb, the franchise disappeared for a few years. It returned with Crystal Dynamics handling the development in 2016 with Tomb Raider: Legend. Toby Gard, who created the series in 1996, returned to help guide this reboot and it turned out to be a huge success both critically and financially.
While the plot wasn't anything new in terms of this franchise, the gameplay was vastly improved. Everything felt smoother and they blended the puzzle-solving with the action very well. This was a hugely important entry because it breathed new life into Tomb Raider and made it relevant in a new century.
4 Worst: Tomb Raider: The Prophecy
We noted earlier that the 3D environment was a highlight of this franchise. The move from Game Boy Color to Game Boy Advance seemed to try and fix that, but it came up way short. 2002's Tomb Raider: The Prophecy went for a somewhat 3D style with an overhead view instead of the side-scrolling style we were used to.
Unfortunately, that is an idea that probably would have worked better on a different handheld system. The Game Boy Advance was very limited for what they attempted. That made for a game that never came together properly. Throw in some dull action sequences and ridiculously simple puzzles and there's not much appeal here.
3 Best: Tomb Raider (2013)
Tomb Raider: Legend was a great reboot, but 2013's Tomb Raider improved upon it. This was the game that changed everything for Lara Croft. Gone were the short shorts and things that made her a sex symbol. In its place was a much more grounded tale of survival that put the gamers in constant peril.
This allowed the series to be held in the high esteem that the Uncharted series is given. It also took Lara back to her roots and works as her first adventure, so we're learning along with her. Everything about this worked, from the action to the story to the puzzles. It not only laid the groundwork for a fantastic trilogy, but it is what the 2018 film was based on.
2 Worst: Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness
There really was no competition for the worst game in this series. Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness pretty much killed Lara Croft as a popular character. The move to the PS2 could have opened new doors for Eidos. Unfortunately, they opted to rush out another installment with the same gameplay engine.
That led to a game that ultimately felt unfinished. There were a few cool cinematic scenes and some fun RPG elements, but the game felt stuck in the past. Worst of all, it was riddled with glitches. Without the ability to patch games as you can now, this was just a complete mess.
1 Best: Rise Of The Tomb Raider
The great success of the 2013 reboot made it a tough act to follow. Thankfully, Rise of the Tomb Raider more than lived up to the hype. All of the elements that worked in the 2013 game were back and were improved upon. For one thing, Lara was now more experienced, allowing gamers to get into the meat of the action with someone who knew what she was doing.
The action, visuals, puzzles, plot, and characters all got beefed up in this incredible sequel. It saw Lara head to Siberia in her fight against Trinity, which made for some awesome looking locations. Rise of the Tomb Raider won several awards and was ranked by Time Magazine as one of the "50 Best Video Games of All-Time."