The series' current logo
|Developers||Core Design (1996–2004)
Crystal Dynamics (2006–present)
|Publishers||Eidos Interactive (1996–2009)
Square Enix (2010–present)
|Creators||Core Design team|
|Platforms||Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance, iOS, Macintosh, Mac OS X, MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, Mobile phone, N-Gage 2.0, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Network, PlayStation Portable, Sega Saturn, Wii, Windows Mobile, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One|
|Year of inception||1996|
|First release||Tomb Raider
25 October 1996
|Latest release||Tomb Raider
5 March 2013
|Official website||Tomb Raider franchise website|
Tomb Raider is a video game franchise which also includes comic books, novels, theme park rides and movies, centering around the adventures of the English archaeologist Lara Croft. The first six games in the series were developed by Core Design, while Crystal Dynamics developed the latest five. Two movies—Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life—have been produced, starring American actress Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, the first of which is still the highest-grossing film adaptation of a video game ever released in the US, and third worldwide.
Since the release of the original Tomb Raider in 1996, notable for its female protagonist, the series developed into a lucrative franchise of related media, and Lara went on to become a major icon of the virtual gaming industry. In 2006, Lara Croft was inducted into the Walk of Game and Guinness World Records has recognised her as the "Most Successful Human Virtual Game Heroine."
- 1 Lara Croft
- 2 Video games
- 3 Films
- 4 Other media
- 5 Amusement park rides
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The central character in Tomb Raider is the British archaeologist Lara Croft, a female adventurer in search of ancient relics. Lara was created by one-time Core designer Toby Gard, with her character and backstory fleshed out by writer Vicky Arnold. She appears almost invariably with brown shorts, boots and small backpack, a dark green or blue sleeveless top, holsters on both hips for dual-wielded pistols. Over the course of the series, her 3D model has undergone gradual graphical improvements, as well as enlarged (and later reduced) breast size.
Over the course of time, the Tomb Raider series' canon has undergone various changes or retcons. These changes correspond to the series entering a new medium, such as comic books or film, or being taken over by another game developer. For example, in the first Tomb Raider game manual, Lara Croft is said to have survived a plane crash in the Himalayas at the age of twenty one, and was later disowned by her parents, who are still living. However, in the comics, Lara lost both her parents and her fiancé in the crash. The films make no mention of a plane crash, Lara's mother died when she was too young to remember, and her father died under different circumstances. When development of Tomb Raider was transferred from Core Design to Crystal Dynamics, Lara's biography was that she and her mother survived a plane crash, and later her mother disappears in the site where they crashed (see Tomb Raider: Legend). She was then left to her father, who was not involved in the crash, and he was later killed by Jaqueline Natla, a recurring character in the series, leaving Lara an orphan. However, in the Lara Croft movie, Lara's father is killed by the Illuminati (see Tomb Raider).
In addition to the voice actresses who have been responsible for Lara Croft's spoken dialogue during the games, a number of women have taken on the role of Lara for applications outside of the games themselves. Six different women have served as the official Lara Croft model for publicity purposes, including model Nell McAndrew, actress Rhona Mitra, and, most recently, gymnast Alison Carroll, who held the job until 2010. American film star Angelina Jolie portrayed Lara Croft in two feature-length Tomb Raider films, which together grossed nearly US$500 million worldwide, making her role as Lara the most well known and widely seen.
Sixteen years after the release of the original game, Lara is still one of the most famous and recognizable video game characters in the history of the medium. The debate over whether she is an icon of women empowerment or a vessel for male titillation has existed for as long as she has, but the huge effect she has had on both gaming and popular culture in general cannot be denied.
A map indicating places visited by Lara Croft during the video games:
Tomb Raider (2013)
Tomb Raider is one of the best-selling video games franchises of all time. Excluding the sales of the portable adaptations, TV remote-controlled versions and mobile phone releases, the series has collectively sold over 35 million units.
1996–2003: Tomb Raider to The Angel of Darkness
The original game, titled Tomb Raider, made its debut on the Sega Saturn, PlayStation, and PC. It was one of the major titles responsible for the PlayStation's success in the mid-1990s, and helped ship over 100 million PlayStation consoles. The games present a world in 3D: a series of tombs, and other locations, through which the player must guide Lara. On the way, she must kill dangerous creatures or other humans, while collecting objects and solving puzzles to gain access to an ultimate prize, usually a powerful artifact. The storyline is usually driven by the quest for a powerful artifact, with Lara in a race against a sinister shadow league who want to obtain the relic for their own purposes. These artifacts usually possess mystical powers and may be of supernatural, or even alien, origin. Often in the series, the antagonist uses the artifact or bits of it to create terrifying mystical monsters, creatures, and mutants which Lara must defeat throughout the journey.
Tomb Raider, an early example of the 3D genre, uses third-person shooter mechanics. The player's camera follows her, usually over her shoulder or from behind. Until Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, the game's environments were largely orthogonal, as a result of the creators' decision to extend the 2D platform game genre to a 3D world. This is shown through Tomb Raider's game-play, which is reminiscent of older platform games like Prince of Persia and Flashback that had a heavy focus on timed jumping interspersed with combat. Each game has introduced new weapons and moves; by the fourth game, Lara could back flip off ropes and turn around in mid-air to grab a ledge behind her. Standard moves in Lara's range of abilities include the somersault, a roll, climbing techniques, strafing, the ability to swim, a swan dive maneuver, a handstand, and aiming lock. In Tomb Raider III, a sprinting move was introduced that allowed Lara to quickly speed up while a bar in the lower corner of the screen drained her stamina. In Tomb Raider: Chronicles, Lara was able to bar-swing and somersault/roll out of crawl spaces higher than ground level.
Originally, the Tomb Raider games were developed by Core Design, and a game was released annually. However, the pressure grew so much on the team that they decided to kill Lara Croft off at the end of TombRaider IV: The Last Revelation, cowritten by Hope Caton, who was called in to rescue the game when Sony requested massive changes to the script. Still, a fifth game was released, which consisted of a series of flashbacks with Lara Croft's funeral serving as framing story for the various tales. The sixth instalment Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness revived the character and was to start a trilogy. The game infamously featured a darker more city-based setting and included stealth-elements, and also introduced a new playable character for a short time in the game. The game was a failure, thus ending the Core Design era.
In the early 2000s, a series of hand-held titles were released for the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance, which were developed by other developers, neither Core Design (except the second Game Boy game) nor Crystal Dynamics and are therefore not considered canonical.
2006–2008: Core Design being replaced by Crystal Dynamics
After the unsuccessful Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, Core Design was sold to Rebellion Studios. Core started working on a brand new video game "Free Running." After they came up with an idea to remake the first game of the Tomb Raider franchise onto the PlayStation Portable, they immediately gave the idea to Eidos. Eidos agreed and (Core Design) placed the Free Running project to the side. Core immediately began working on their tenth anniversary edition. While they were constructing the video game, Crystal Dynamics was working on Tomb Raider: Legend. Core Design wanted to create a Lara Croft model that resembled their model. A trailer of Tomb Raider: Anniversary was distributed onto the internet on June 8, 2006. The video was not a good representation of an upcoming video game, but Eidos did confirm they were making an action packed sequel which would be developed by Crystal Dynamics. Later in the making, SCi cancelled Tomb Raider: Anniversary and Core Design was dismissed from the Tomb Raider project. As a result, all of the computers were wiped clean which erased their entire version forever. Core Design is no longer able to produce video games. Crystal Dynamics, known for their work on the Legacy of Kain series, relaunched the series with Tomb Raider: Legend which brought the character back to its tomb raiding roots. It was the first time since the original Tomb Raider that Lara Croft's original creator, Toby Gard returned to work on a sequel. The game heavily expanded on Lara Croft's background, detailing on the loss of her mother in early childhood and how she followed her father's footsteps to find her (therefore beginning her archaeology career). Tomb Raider: Legend introduced an electromagnetic grapple that Lara can attach to metal objects and can, amongst other things, be used to make rope swings and pull metal objects (and enemies) toward her.
Following the success of Legend a remake of the original was produced and released almost a year later, called Tomb Raider: Anniversary. The game expanded on some of the plot lines, further setting up the follow-up Tomb Raider: Underworld, which was released in late 2008. Underworld featured the conclusion of the loose trilogy that forms Legend, Anniversary and Underworld.
2010–2012: Lara Croft spin-off series
On 18 August 2010, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix released a download-only title, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, the first game in the series not to bear the name Tomb Raider. The omission of the Tomb Raider branding was said to separate Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light from the "pillar" Tomb Raider games, which are also still being produced.
2013: Series reboot
On 5 March 2013, Square Enix released Tomb Raider, billed as a reboot of the franchise. In Tomb Raider, the player is confronted with a much younger Lara Croft who is shipwrecked and finds herself stranded on a mysterious island rife with danger, both natural and human. In contrast to the earlier games Croft is portrayed as vulnerable, acting out of necessity, desperation and sheer survival rather than for a greater cause or personal gain.
In August of the same year, Square Enix new Western CEO Phil Rogers announced that a sequel for unspecified next-generation consoles was well into production. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition was released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on 28 January 2014.
All the scores to the Tomb Raider saga are produced by their respective composers using software instrumentation, such as recording samples and electronic synthesizers. The exception is Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness which was recorded live by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, London, in June 2002.
The basic instrumentation for the Tomb Raider scores is orchestral, though the games adopt different instrumentation and tone with each instalment in the series. Nathan McCree's style when scoring the first Tomb Raider is most similar to Classical music, especially the cues with a fast tempo. Additionally, slow tempo cues are built on a minimalist base using minimalist cells and two to four repeated musical notes. Different instruments like the vibraphone, strings, harp, or woodwinds provide a mysterious setting for the player.
The main theme of the first Tomb Raider game was composed by Nathan McCree. A solo oboe melody orchestrated with choirs and strings, exposing for the first time the four most important musical notes, the signature, the motif of the entire series. These notes are composed in a most conjunct melodic manner possible: G-A-F-G. The original motif is followed immediately after by the sequenced motif with B♭-A-G, giving at the same time the possibility of looping the theme and the feeling of completion. Variations of this tune, especially the G-A-F-G motif has been used throughout all Tomb Raider games, including the second movie, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.
Stings were used very often to warn the player about an impending danger, or if the player discovers a certain area. As an example, if the player picks up a secret object or, in later games, if an area with that object is discovered, a short vibraphone sound may be heard indicating the player has found a "Secret". The sound has been used in the first five Tomb Raider video games, including Tomb Raider: Anniversary, though it has some minor sound variations.
With Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, the composer changes for the first time in the series, Peter Connelly being the next composer to come, he tries to respect Nathan's musical style of the series, keeping the stings and similar orchestration. For the main theme of "The Last Revelation" he sequences with a vibraphone the original motif in a 4 musical note minimalist cell, used from the beginning to the end of the melody.
The symphonic sounds of the earlier games composed by Nathan McCree were created using Roland Corporation's Orchestral Expansion board for their JV series modules (JV-1080 Synthesizer Module & SR-JV80-02 Expansion Board).
Angel of Darkness is the first game to bring underscores, previous games using stings and full scores only. Furthermore, as another premier for the series, the score has been performed by a real orchestra (London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Snell). The basis of the main theme of this 5th game is the ending of the previous game.
Troels Brun Folmann brings with Legend a new kind of music style with underlying beats, just like electronic dance music, that sometimes has small parts of an electronic-like orchestra, but instead of recreating the atmosphere of a real orchestra, Folmann uses a lot of echoes for its sounds. The title track starts off with the first few notes of Lara's original theme used in all the games before this one, being played with slight ornamentation on a Middle-Eastern duduk.
Folmann's work for Anniversary is different from that of Legend, as it has no underlying techno beats or electronic effects, and no underscores. Folmann uses more complex instrumentation and composition in his scoring, acquiring more woodwinds, instrument articulation, and ambience. Folmann leaves somewhat of a trademark in his Anniversary music by adding a significant amount of chimes throughout the score. Folmann composed the music in the style of an electronic orchestra. Some recognisable themes from the first game, composed by Nathan McCree, such as "Time to Run," "Puzzle Theme," and "Puzzle Theme II" have been recreated. The main theme can be described as a celebratory version of the original theme from Tomb Raider, as similar chord and instruments are used in the piece. The song starts off with a heavy crescendo of woodwinds and low strings playing the famous Tomb Raider melody, and then breaks off into an almost playful arc, featuring parts of the harp composition from the Tomb Raider theme. Pizzicato strings, cascading pianos and celeste, chimes, and glass instrumentation are prominent throughout this version, implying the fresh and modern twist that Folmann and Crystal Dynamics have placed in Anniversary.
The music supervisor of Underworld was Troels Brun Folmann, he also composed the main theme, while Colin O'Malley scored the bulk of the music. Underworld's music is purely orchestral in style. There are pieces that do not loop, meaning they only play one time and are triggered on specific events. The score is made more of musical fragments, similar to the first five games of the Tomb Raider series with less constant music than in Legend. The first seconds of the main theme are the well known four-notes of the original Tomb Raider main theme. The end of it gets louder than the beginning by adding choirs and percussion. It then drops into a solo performance of the same four-notes reminiscent of the Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness main theme.
2010's Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light uses recycled musical cues from Legend, Anniversary, and Underworld by composers Troels Brun Folmann and Colin O'Malley.
Regarding the upcoming Tomb Raider a podcast by Game Informer on 21 December 2010, featured a "sneak peek at a track from the game itself" composed by Aleksandar Dimitrijevic. However, 6 days later, tweets from Crystal Dynamics Global Brand Director, Karl Stewart, clarified Game Informer's statement; confirming that "Alex Dimitrijevic is scoring the trailer. We officially haven't announced the composer for the game". On 8 June 2011, after the trailer's première, Stewart stated in regard to the final Turning Point score that "...this piece is not a piece that [Alex Dimitrijevic]'s worked on".
On 7 June 2011, Meagan Marie, community manager at Crystal Dynamics, expressed on the official Tomb Raider blog that "Our goal [is] to make sure that we release a soundtrack". Stewart added "this is a complete new composer and somebody who we' ve brought in to work on the game as well as this [trailer] piece" and that "we're going to make a bigger announcement later in the year". In the Making of Turning Point, sound designer Alex Wilmer explained that the unannounced composer had remotely directed an in-house concert violinist to perform the "very intimate" piece.
In the fourth Crystal Habit podcast which premiered at the Tomb Raider blog on 17 October 2011, Marie spoke to Wilmer and lead sound designer Jack Grillo about their collaboration(s) with the unannounced composer. Grillo stated that "We're doing this overture... where we're taking an outline of the narrative structure and having our composer create different themes and textures that would span the entire game" while Wilmer emphasised that the composer's music will dynamically adapt in-game; scored "...emotionally so that it reacts instantly to what happens".
In an episode of The Final Hours of Tomb Raider on YouTube, the composer is revealed to be Jason Graves. On this episode he affirms that his musical style is shaped by two classical composers Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky, and a more recent one: Krzysztof Penderecki.
Two feature films have been created based on the Tomb Raider universe: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001, and the 2003 sequel Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, both starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
A 2001 adventure film adapted from the Tomb Raider video game series; Lara Croft races against time and villains to recover a powerful artefact called the Triangle of Light.
In the film Lara Croft is portrayed as a treasure hunter who must locate the parts of the "triangle of light" artefact before the Illuminati do. Lara’s father (an archaeologist) was trying to find the parts before he died, and has passed on his work to Lara. In the movie she goes to Angkor Wat and to a place in Siberia to find the pieces of the triangle of light. Angkor Wat is a real archaeological site in Cambodia. Part of Angkor Wat has been shown to hold one half of the triangle of light in a hidden temple room. Really this site is a temple complex that comes from the Angkorian period (9th to 15th century). The site is about 400 km² in size and located in the northwestern part of Cambodia.
Both Lara and the Illuminati want the triangle of light to be able to have the power that it holds. In the end, Lara destroys the triangle of light after coming to the conclusion that she does not need to use the artefact to get what she wants.
The film was directed by Simon West and starred Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. It was released in U.S. theaters on 15 June 2001 receiving mostly negative reviews from critics. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider debuted at number one with $48.2 million, giving Paramount its second-best debut and the fourth-highest debut of 2001. It beat the opening record for a film featuring a female protagonist ($40.1 million for Charlie's Angels), and is the second most successful video game adaptation to date (after Prince of Persia), grossing $274,703,340 worldwide.
Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)
Angelina Jolie returns as Lara Croft in the 2003 sequel to the original video game based film. This time, Lara Croft attempts to find Pandora's Box which supposedly contains one of the deadliest plagues on Earth, before evil scientist, Jonathan Reiss, can get his hands on it.
This film was directed by Jan de Bont and was released in U.S. theaters on 21 July 2003 receiving slightly higher reviews than the original. Despite the more favourable critical response, Cradle of Life suffered a disappointing opening weekend, as it debuted in fourth place with a take of $21.7 million, a 55% drop from the original's opening gross of $47.7 million. The film finished with a domestic gross of only $65 million. Total earnings amounted to $156.5 million.
Untitled third movie
In 2011, GK Films acquired the film rights and plan to release an origin story reboot. Darrell Gallagher, head of Crystal Dynamics, revealed to Variety that the film will focus on a younger Lara. On 27 March 2013 it was announced there would be a partnership to produce the movie, with MGM & GK Films. Graham King, founder of the latter, would serve as producer and development of the first film will begin immediately. MGM has chosen Marti Noxon to pen the script.
Box office performance
|Film||Release date||Box office revenue||Box office ranking||Budget||Reference|
|United States||Foreign||Worldwide||All time domestic||All time worldwide|
|Lara Croft: Tomb Raider||15 June 2001||$131,168,070||$143,535,270||$274,703,335||#251||#243||$115,000,000|||
|Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life||25 July 2003||$65,660,196||$90,845,192||$156,505,388||#788||$95,000,000|||
|Lara Croft: Tomb Raider||19% (154 reviews)||33% (31 reviews)|
|Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life||24% (163 reviews)||43% (34 reviews)|
Tomb Raider was licensed to comic book publisher Top Cow Productions, which released several Tomb Raider comics beginning in 1997. Alongside crossovers with the publisher's company-owned Witchblade and creator-owned Fathom, an eponymous ongoing series began publication in 1999, ending in 2004 with its fiftieth issue.
Ballantine Books, in conjunction with Eidos, began publishing a series of original novels in the spring of 2004, beginning with The Amulet of Power by Mike Resnick, which was followed by The Lost Cult by E. E. Knight in August 2004 and then The Man of Bronze by James Alan Gardner in January 2005. They generally followed the continuity of the video games (particularly Angel of Darkness) rather than the movies, although Lost Cult contained references to Cradle of Life. Man of Bronze differs from the first two books in that it is told in first-person narrative from Lara Croft's point of view. Ballantine's contract only called for three novels, and it is not yet known if the book series will continue.
GameTap aired a ten-part animated short series called Revisioned: Tomb Raider Animated Series from 10 July 2007 to 13 November 2007. The series consists of various artistic talent's renditions of Lara Croft. Minnie Driver provides the voice for Lara Croft.
Four scores to seven of the Tomb Raider games exist as promotional items (and/or under enclosure), while some were available to consumers in specific retail editions with a limited window of opportunity to purchase.
|Promotional Sampler||Composer(s)||No. of tracks||Duration||Format, release||Year|
|Tomb Raider: Toutes Les Musiques ||Nathan McCree||
||00:54:51||Promotional CD, included with the French magazine Total Play, issue 14. Includes music from Tomb Raiders I, II and III.||
|Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (Collector's Edition) Soundtrack||Peter Connelly,
||00:18:48||Enclosed CD/DVD, bundled with the
European pre-order Collector's Edition Angel of Darkness
|Tomb Raider: Anniversary (Collector's Edition) Soundtrack||Troels Brun Folmann||
||01:03:17||Enclosed CD/DVD, bundled with the
Anniversary Collector's Edition, includes music from Tomb Raider: Legend
|Tomb Raider: Underworld (Limited Edition) Soundtrack||Colin O'Malley||
||00:23:48||Enclosed DVD, bundled with the
Underworld Limited Edition
- Several promotional tracks for all of the Tomb Raider games were distributed to the public. These are difficult to trace back to a source, and are unfortunately not part of any larger body of released music. Examples include "Mediterranean Murder" and "Deep Sea Encounter" from Tomb Raider: Underworld, that while clearly are from the game's soundtrack, do not appear in any official form. The releases were made to invoke pre-media hype before, or to meet public demand after the releases of the game(s) by Eidos, Core Design or Crystal Dynamics.
- There has been four releases of Tomb Raider film soundtracks, two for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and two for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle Of Life (each a Various artists soundtrack compilation and an original score).
- As the soundtrack files to the PlayStation (PS1) version of the original Tomb Raider (1996) are stored as standard CD audio files, the music can played by using a standard CD player.
Amusement park rides
The film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and subsequent sequel, having been distributed and licensed by Paramount Pictures, were eligible for inclusion in the six Paramount Parks, theme parks owned and operated by Paramount (and later, CBS Corporation). As such, three Tomb Raider rides were opened at various Paramount Parks: Tomb Raider: The Ride (both a HUSS Giant Top Spin at Kings Island and a flying roller coaster at Canada's Wonderland) and Tomb Raider: FireFall (a suspended HUSS Top Spin at Kings Dominion). The Paramount Park's sale to Cedar Fair, L.P. was accompanied by a loss of rights to the Tomb Raider name, and subsequently, Kings Island's Tomb Raider: The Ride and Kings Dominion's Tomb Raider: FireFall were renamed "The Crypt", while Canada's Wonderland's "Tomb Raider: The Ride" was renamed "Time Warp."
With its investments and licensing pulled from the former Paramount Parks, the Tomb Raider ride franchise was started anew with Tomb Raider: The Machine at Movieland Studios, Italy. The ride, manufactured by Zamperla, looks very much like the HUSS Top Spin ride, but is more advanced ride called a Windshear.
The original (and only indoor, themed) Tomb Raider: The Ride at Kings Island was celebrated for the way it turned what is generally a typical "boring" thrill ride like a Top Spin (something found at most carnivals) into a highly interactive, themed dark ride complete with lava pits, volcanoes, icicles, and a giant goddess carving on the wall with laser eyes. The ride was synchronized to a specially-made Tomb Raider soundtrack and featured the real, six armed "Durga" goddess and water vase from the first movie, as well as the monkey warrior statues that come to life in the film. The ride was renamed The Crypt and all references to Lara Croft were removed due to change in park owners in 2008. The ride has since been removed.
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- "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life: Various". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
- "Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (Score): Alan Silvestri: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
- Red Book audio files
- Davis, Rick (2009-01-28). "Tomb Raider: The Ride - the Unveiling". DAFE. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
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