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Released 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.

Improved graphics, 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.

Tomb Raider III was released in 1998 and, some say, marked the beginning of the end for the franchise.

Jetting around the world from London to Area 51 to Antarctica and everywhere in between, Lara must find pieces of a meteorite before 'the baddies'.

Tomb 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.

Hoping 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.

Returning 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!

With a 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.

The 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?

Sadly, 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?

Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness was Lara's first outing on next-generation consoles and promised great graphics and gameplay. Did it deliver?

Managing 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.

Beset 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...

With the future of tomb raiding handed to American developer, Crystal Dynamics, would the series get back on track in 2006?

Aided by 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 wild animal.

Beautiful 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...

Tomb 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.

Using the Legend engine, favourite levels, such as The Lost Valley and St. Francis' Folly have never looked better and Lara moved with fluidity and grace.

The game 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 adventuring. The game took us from Croft Manor to Thailand, the Mediterranean and the Arctic.

The 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 see.

In 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.

In 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.


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:


While 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 different formats.

Tomb 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.

Tomb 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.

Tomb 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.

Losing 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.

2000's 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.

In 2003, Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness came out for the PS2, PC and Mac. The less said about that, the better!

Tomb 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.

Tomb 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.

Tomb 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.

Nintendo 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 and Tomb Raider: The Prophecy for the GameBoy Advance.


In 2001, Lara Croft burst onto the big screen in the curvaceous form of Angelina Jolie.

Following 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.

Doing 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.

While the 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.

In 2003, Angelina pulled on the skin-tight catsuits once more for Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.

Lara must 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 every turn.

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.

A third Tomb Raider movie is planned, with Angelina Jolie not signing on to portray Lara Croft for a third time.

Update: It looks like the next Tomb Raider movie will be an origins tale, scheduled for release in 2013. See here for more details.


In 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.

In 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 YouTube.

At 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 YouTube.


Almost 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 stories.

Naturally, there are many, many walkthroughs and game guides avialbale for purchase for each game. Far too many to list here.

In 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.

Click here for HTML version of Zero Point


Screenshots mostly taken from Katie's Tomb Raider Screenshots Webpage and Yahoo Movies


Buy Tomb Raider games & movies from -

PS1   PC   Mac Pocket PC   Saturn   N-Gage   PSN

PS1   PC   Mac   PSN Steam

PS1   PC   Mac   PSN Steam

PS1   PC   Mac   Dreamcast   PSN Steam

PS1   PC   Mac   Dreamcast PSN Steam

PS2   PC   Mac

PS2   PC   Xbox   Xbox360   GameCube   DS   GBA Steam XBL

PS2   PC   Xbox360  
Wii   PSP   Mac Steam XBL

PS2   PS3   PC   Xbox360  
Wii   DS   PSN Steam XBL


Android   iOS

XBox 360
PS3 PC XBL Steam

XBox One

DVD   Blu-ray  




The ladies below have all portrayed Lara over the years... 

Nathalie Cook (1996-1997)

Rhona Mitra (1997) 


Vanessa Demouy (1998)


Nell McAndrew (1998-1999) 


Lara Weller (1999)


Lucy Clarkson (2000-2002)


Ellen Rocche (2001) 

Jill De Jong (2002-2004)


Karima Adebibe (2004-2008 )


Alison Caroll (2008- 2010)

Angelina Jolie 


Shelley Blond

Judith Gibbins 


Jonell Elliott 


Keeley Hawes 

Minnie Driver

Camilla Luddington

Lara Croft and Tomb Raider are trademarks of Eidos Interactive Limited. All rights reserved.

© Steven Johnson 2014