The logo for Tomb Raider from 2013 onwards. Multiple logos have been used through the series' lifetime.
|Developers||Core Design, Crystal Dynamics, Nixxes Software, Ubisoft Milan|
|Publishers||Eidos Interactive (1996–2009)
Square Enix (2010–present)
|Platforms||Android, Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance, iOS, 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|
|Platform of origin||Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Microsoft Windows|
|Year of inception||1996|
|First release||Tomb Raider
25 October 1996
|Latest release||Rise of the Tomb Raider
10 November 2015
Tomb Raider, styled as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider between 2001 and 2007, is a media franchise that originated with an action-adventure video game series created by British gaming company Core Design. Formally owned by Eidos Interactive, then by Square Enix after their acquisition of Eidos in 2009, the franchise focuses on the archaeologist-adventurer Lara Croft, who travels the globe searching for lost artifacts and infiltrating dangerous tombs and ruins. The character was created by a team at Core Design that included Toby Gard. The gameplay generally focuses around action-adventure exploration of environments, solving puzzles, navigating hostile environments filled with traps, and fighting numerous enemies.
Development on the original game began in 1993. Its success prompted Core Design to develop a new game annually for the next four years, which put a strain on staff. The sixth game, The Angel of Darkness, faced difficulties during development and was considered a failure at release. This prompted Eidos to switch development duties to Crystal Dynamics, which has been the series' primary developer since then. Other developers have contributed either to spin-off titles within the series or ports of mainline titles.
A large selection of additional media has grown up around the video game series, most notably a 2001 film adaptation featuring Angelina Jolie in the title role. The games have sold over 45 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling video game franchises. The series has generally met with critical acclaim, with the series being noted as one of the pioneers of the action-adventure genre. Lara Croft becoming one of the most recognisable video game protagonists in existence, winning numerous accolades and earning places on the Walk of Game and Guinness World Records. Alongside being praised for pioneering female characters in video games, she also been the subject of controversy due to her sex appeal being used for marketing.
- 1 Titles
- 2 Common elements
- 3 History and development
- 4 Reception
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The first six Tomb Raider games were developed by Core Design, a British video game development company owned by Eidos Interactive. After the sixth game in the series released to a lukewarm reception in 2003, development was transferred to North American studio Crystal Dynamics, who have handled the main series since then. Since 2001, other developers have contributed either to ports of mainline games or with the development of spin-off titles.
|1999||The Last Revelation
|2003||The Angel of Darkness
|2015||Rise of the Tomb Raider
The first entry in the series Tomb Raider was released in 1996 for personal computers (PC), and PlayStation and Sega Saturn consoles. The Saturn and PlayStation versions were released in Japan in 1997. The second game, Tomb Raider II, launched in 1997, again for PC and PlayStation. A month before release, Eidos finalized a deal with Sony Computer Entertainment to keep the console version of Tomb Raider II and future games exclusive to PlayStation until the year 2000. The PlayStation version was released in Japan in 1998. Tomb Raider III launched in 1998. As with Tomb Raider II, the PlayStation version released in Japan the following year. The fourth consecutive title in the series, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, released in 1999. In 2000, with the end of the PlayStation exclusivity deal, the game also released on the Dreamcast. In Japan, both console versions released the following year. Tomb Raider Chronicles released in 2000 on the same platforms as The Last Revelation, with the PlayStation version's Japanese release as before coming the following year.
After a three-year gap, Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness released on PC and PlayStation 2 (PS2) in 2003. The PS2 version released in Japan that same year. The next entry, Tomb Raider Legend, was released worldwide in 2006 for PC, PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable (PSP), GameCube, Game Boy Advance (GBA) and Nintendo DS. The 360, PS2 and PSP versions were released in Japan in that year. A year later, a remake of the first game titled Tomb Raider: Anniversary was released worldwide in 2007 for PC, PS2, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, and the Wii. The next entry, Tomb Raider: Underworld, released in 2008 on PC, PlayStation 3 (PS2), PS2, Xbox 360, Wii and DS. The PS3, PS2, Xbox 360 and Wii were released in Japan in 2009.
A reboot of the series, titled Tomb Raider, was released worldwide in 2013 for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Its sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, released in 2015 on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The game was part of a timed exclusivity deal with Microsoft. Versions for the PlayStation 4 and PC are set for release in 2016.
The first spin-off title in the series was a game for the Game Boy Color (GBC) titled Tomb Raider, developed by Core Design and released in 2000. Its sequel, Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword, was released in 2001 for the GBC. In 2002, a new game for the GBA called Tomb Raider: The Prophecy, was developed by Ubisoft Milan and published by Ubisoft. In 2003, four Tomb Raider titles for mobile phones were released. A platform-puzzler for mobile devices, Lara Croft Go, was released in 2015.
Beginning in 2010, a separate subseries titled Lara Croft was in development, offering experiences separate from the development of the main series and existing in its own continuity. The first game in this subseries, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, released in 2010 as a downloadable title for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. The next game in the series, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, released for both retail and download in 2014 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Another entry for mobile devices, an endless runner platforming titled Lara Croft: Relic Run was released in 2015.
The Angel of Darkness was originally the first game in a trilogy, with its sequel titled The Lost Dominion. While The Lost Dominion was undergoing preliminary development, the negative reception of The Angel of Darkness caused the entire trilogy to be scrapped. With Eidos' approval, Core Design began development of an updated edition of the first game for the PSP called Tomb Raider: The Anniversary Edition in late 2005, with a projected release date of Christmas 2006. Development continued while Core Design staff were working on the platformer Free Running. When Core Design was sold to Rebellion Developments, Eidos requested the project’s cancellation. It was suggested by staff that Eidos did not want to let outside developers handle the franchise.
Film and television
The series has received two different film adaptations: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001, and its sequel The Cradle of Life in 2003. Rumours of a third film adaptation appeared in 2007, and was officially announced in 2009. The film rights were acquired by GK Films in 2011, and in 2015 it was confirmed that a director was attached to the project, and that it would be developed by GK Films, Warner Bros. and MGM. The film is set to be a reboot, showing Lara's first adventure.
In 2007, an animated series based on the character was produced and broadcast by GameTap as part of a series of re-imaginings of popular video game series. Titled Revisioned: Tomb Raider Animated Series, it ran between May and June 2007. Multiple noted animators and writers were involved with the series, including Peter Chung, Warren Ellis, Gail Simone and Jim Lee. While the production team had great creative freedom, they were given a basic guideline for the character by the developers so that Lara would not do anything out of character.
Beginning in 1997, Lara Croft was featured in multiple comics produced by Top Cow Productions. First, she had a cameo in Witchblade, then later in a titular comic book series which ran for fifty issues from 1999 to 2005. An attempt by Top Cow to restart the comic in 2007 stalled due to licensing issues. A new comic book series began in 2014, set within the 2013 reboot's continuity and bridging the narrative gap between the reboot and its sequel.
Four official novels have also been written. The first three, set within the original timeline, were published between 2003 and 2005. The first novel, The Amulet of Power, was set after the events of The Last Revelation, while its sequels The Lost Cult and The Man of Bronze are set after the first novel. Another novel set within the 2013 reboot timeline, Tomb Raider: The Ten Thousand Immortals, was published in 2014 as a continuation of the original story.
Lara Croft is the main protagonist and playable character of the series: she is a woman who travels the world in search of forgotten artifacts and locations, frequently connected to supernatural powers. While her biography has changed throughout the series, her shared traits are her origins as the only daughter and heir of the aristocratic Croft family. She is portrayed as intelligent, athletic, elegant, fluent in multiple languages, and determined to fulfil her own goals at any cost. She has brown eyes and brown hair worn in a Braid or ponytail. The character's classic outfit consists of a turquoise tank top, light brown shorts, calf-high boots, and tall white socks. Recurring accessories include fingerless gloves, a backpack, a utility belt with holsters on either side, and twin pistols. Later games have multiple new outfits for her.
Lara Croft has been voiced and portrayed by multiple actresses: Shelley Blond voiced her in the first game, Judith Gibbens voiced her in Tomb Raider II and III, Jonell Elliot voiced her between 1999 and 2003, Keeley Hawes has voiced her in multiple games since 2006, while she was voiced and portrayed in the reboot series by Camilla Luddington. In other media, Minnie Driver voiced Lara in the animated series, while Angelina Jolie portrayed her in the first two movies. Multiple models and body doubles have also portrayed Lara in promotional material up until the 2013 reboot. Eight different real-life models have also portrayed her at promotional events.
The circumstances of her first adventures, along with the drive behind her adventures, differ depending on the continuity. In the original and Legends continuities, she is on a plane that crashes in the Himalayas: her journey back to civilisation against the odds help begin her journey towards her adult life as an adventuress and treasure hunter. In the original continuity, after her ordeal in the Himalayas, she left behind her privileged life and made a living writing about her exploits as an adventurer, mercenary, and cat burglar. In The Last Revelation, Lara was caught in a collapsing pyramid at the game's end, leaving her fate unknown: this was because the staff, exhausted from four years of non-stop development, wanted to move on from the character. Chronicles was told through a series of flashbacks at a wake for Lara, while The Angel of Darkness was set an unspecified time after The Last Revelation, with Lara revealed to have survived. The circumstances of her survival were originally part of the game, but were cut due to time constraints.
In the Legends continuity, her mother Amelia was also involved in the crash, and she is partially driven by the need to discover the truth behind her mother's disappearance and vindicate her father's theories about Amelia's disappearance. This obsession with the truth is also present in Anniversary, and ends up bringing the world to the brink of destruction during the events of Underworld. Her father is referred to as Lord Henshingly Croft in the original games and Lord Richard Croft in the Legends continuity. In the 2013 reboot continuity, she travels with her parents around the world from an early age, and independently pursues her own education after her parents disappear and are presumed dead on one such expedition. The aftermath of the events of the game leave Lara with a deep passion for exposing the world's mysteries, along with using them as a way of coping with the resultant post-traumatic stress. The Lara Croft subseries take place within their own separate continuity, devoting itself to adventures similar to earlier games while the main series goes in a different stylistic direction.
The gameplay of Tomb Raider is primarily based around an action-adventure framework, with Lara navigating environments and solving mechanical and environmental puzzles, in addition to fighting enemies and avoiding traps. These puzzles, primarily set within ancient tombs and temples, can extend across multiple rooms and areas within a level. Lara could also swim through water, a rarity in games at the time that has continued through the series. According to original software engineer and later studio manager Gavin Rummery, the original set-up of interlinking rooms was inspired by Egyptian multi-roomed tombs, particularly the tomb of Tutankhamun. The feel of the gameplay was intended to evoke that of the 1989 video game Prince of Persia. In the original games, Lara utilised a "tank" control set-up, with two buttons pushing her forward and back and two buttons steering her left and right, and in combat Lara automatically locked onto enemies when they came within range. The camera automatically adjusts depending on Lara's action, but defaults to a third-person perspective in most instances. This basic formula remained unchanged through the first series of games. Angel of Darkness also added stealth elements.
For Legend, the control scheme and character movement was redesigned to provide a smooth and fluid experience. One of the key elements present was how buttons for different actions cleanly transitioned into different actions, along with these moves being incorporated into combat to create effects such as stunning or knocking down enemies. Quick-time events were also added into certain segments within each level, and many of the puzzles were based around sophisticated in-game physics. Anniversary, while going through the same locals of the original game, was rebuilt using the gameplay and environmental puzzles of Legend. For Underworld, the gameplay was redesigned around a phrase the staff had put to themselves: "What Could Lara Do?". Using this set-up, they created a greater variety of moves and greater interaction with the environment, along with expanding and improving combat. The gameplay underwent another major change for the 2013 reboot. Gameplay altered from progression through linear levels to navigating an open world, with hunting for supplies and upgrading equipment and weapons becoming a key part of gameplay. The combat was redesigned to be similar to the Uncharted series: the previous reticle-based lock-on mechanics were replaced by a free-roaming aim. Rise of the Tomb Raider built on the reboot's foundation, adding dynamic weather systems, and reintroducing swimming.
History and development
Origins and development
At Core Design (1993-2003)
The concept for Tomb Raider originated in 1993 at Core Design, a British game development studio. One of the men most involved in its creation was Toby Gard, who was mostly responsible for creating the character of Lara Croft. Gard originally envisioned her as a man: company co-founder Jeremy Heath-Smith was worried the character would be seen as derivative of Indiana Jones, so Gard changed the character's gender. Her design underwent multiple revisions and redrafts during early development. The game proved an unexpected commercial success, reversing Eidos' then-bleak financial situation. After the success of Tomb Raider, work began almost at once on a sequel. After the first game's success, Gard was no longer given full creative control, and it was stated by development staff that he was both saddened and disappointed by the use of Lara Croft's sex appeal in marketing. Gard left Core Design in 1997 to found his own gaming company Confounding Factor, and was replaced by Stuart Atkinson.
Over the next three years, Core Design was committed to delivering a Tomb Raider game annually, putting considerable strain on staff. For this reason, and the feeling that they had exhausted the series' potential, the developers tried to kill the character off. This did not work, and while a fifth game was created, the team stated that they were not fully invested in its development. During development on the fifth game, the team split into two divisions, with one division working on the next-generation sequel The Angel of Darkness. During this period, multiple handheld titles were also developed by both Core Design and third-party developers. The production of The Angel of Darkness was beset by problems from an early stage, with the team wanting to create a grander game to compete with contemporary action-adventure games. Under pressure from Eidos, key sections of the game needed to be cut, and it was released before the team felt it was ready. The game received negative reactions from both fans and critics, and was cited by Paramout as the reason for the second Tomb Raider film underperformed.
At Crystal Dynamics (2004-present)
After the critical backlash of The Angel of Darkness, Eidos decided to take production of the Tomb Raider series out of Core Design's hands and give it to another subsidiary studio. Production of the next game was given to Crystal Dynamics, a studio that had made its name with the Legacy of Kain series. One of the main priorities for both Eidos and Crystal Dynamics was to regain the fanbase's trust in the brand, along with helping the series reclaim the status and selling power it had had before The Angel of Darkness' release. Their main goal was to put Lara back inside tombs, with their physics-based engine enabling more intricate puzzles. After Legend was finished, the team decided to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the series by remaking the original game, rebuilding the environments and redesigning the story to fit in with the events and gameplay of Legend. Alongside the development of Anniversary, an entry for seventh-generation hardware was in development, although it used established gaming architecture from Legend and this caused problems for the development team. In 2009, the year after the release of Underworld, Eidos was bought by Square Enix and later renamed Square Enix Europe, giving Square Enix ownership of the Tomb Raider franchise.
Alongside Underworld, the team decided to create a new subseries that featured the character of Lara Croft while not using the Tomb Raider moniker and using the aesthetics of the Legend continuity. During this period, a second development team was working on a second reboot of the series and character, which would put emphasis on a darker and gritter interpretation of the character. Another priority was presenting Lara as a more human character, showing her in vulnerable positions, and showing how she begins her journey to becoming a "tomb raider" through both narrative and gameplay. A sequel, eventually revealed as Rise of the Tomb Raider, was confirmed as being in development a few months after the reboot's release. In response to criticisms about a lack of classic tombs, more optional and story-based tombs were incorporated into the game. It also continued the team's new portrayal of Lara, showing more sides to her character and her growing obsession with discovering the truth. In addition to this, the Lara Croft subseries was continued in multiple titles: the console game Temple of Osiris, and mobile title Relic Run. In addition, the mobile puzzle game Lara Croft Go was created to both give a different gameplay experience and evoke classic Tomb Raider games.
The original Tomb Raider theme was composed by Nathan McCree. He created the original theme music after having discussions with Gard about the character of Lara Croft. Having decided to use Classical English music as an inspiration, he decided to create something simple for the theme song. Its simplicity made rearrangements and orchestrations easy. For his work on the first three Tomb Raider games, he was given fairly minimal briefs, and for Tomb Raider III he was working on the game as a freelancer as he had left the company. For The Last Revelation, Peter Connelly replaced Nathan McCree as the main composer, using McCree's music as a basis for his work. He composed the opening theme for The Last Revelation, saying that the opening melody came to him out of the blue, and added Egyptian motifs to fit in with the game's setting. Chronicles was originally going to have a sizeable original opening theme, but due to time constraints the majority of it ended up being discarded, much to Connelly's later regret. Only the opening segment survived. The music for Angel of Darkness, composed by Connelly and Martin Iveson, was the one element of production that did not encounter problems, as recording was finished before the major content cuts happened. Scored using a full orchestra as opposed to the synthesised instruments of previous titles, it was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
For Legend, Troels Brun Folmann composed the music and managed the sound effects. Alongside composing a large amount of music for the game, he created micro-scores for small segments within gameplay. Folmann returned to score Anniversary, doing re-orchestrations of the original score, along with expanding them. For Underworld, Folmann handled the main theme while Colin O'Malley handled the rest of the soundtrack, which featured far less looping music than Legend. The 2013 reboot was scored by Jason Graves, who had become known through his work on the Dead Space franchise. Along with his orchestral style, he created a special instrument to create discordant sounds within the music, and musical elements from around the globe to represent the inhabitants of the game's island location. For Rise of the Tomb Raider, the composer was Bobby Tahouri, who had previously worked as assistant composer on video games and theatrical films. Guardian of Light used no original music, instead using extracts from the music of Legend, Anniversary and Underworld. The music for Temple of Osiris was written by Will Roget II, who had originally worked on licensed video games including Star Wars: The Old Republic. Temple of Osiris was the first title in the Lara Croft subseries to have an original score, using Egyptian and Middle Eastern musical elements while creating a new main theme that could be used in future Lara Croft games.
The first Tomb Raider used a custom-built game engine, as other equivalent engines available to Core Design at the time were not versatile enough to realise the team's vision. The engine was designed by Paul Douglas, who also handled the game's artificial intelligence (AI) and the three-dimensional (3D) graphics. The choice of a 3D game was influenced by the team's opinion that the game type was under-represented when compared to first-person shooters such as Doom. Its 3D style meant multiple elements were difficult to implement, including the AI and camera control. Another noted aspect was the multi-layered levels, as compared to equivalent 3D action-adventure games of the time which were limited to a flat-floor system. Lara's movements were hand-animated and coordinated rather than created using motion capture. The reason for this was that the team wanted uniformity in her movement, which was not possible with motion capture technology of the time. For Tomb Raider II, only minor upgrades were made to the engine, with the main improvements being to the AI and smoothing out Lara's model. Tomb Raider III underwent major revisions, including rewrites to the graphics engine and improvements in the lighting and AI systems. The engine was given a major overhaul for The Last Revelation. The first five games make use of full-motion video cutscenes. For the first three games, they were primarily used as transitional periods depicting Lara moving from one level to another or one location to another. For Chronicles, fairly minor revisions were made.
For Angel of Darkness, a new engine was built from scratch, but due to being unfamiliar and unused to the technology of the PS2, the team encountered multiple problems such as needing to remove areas and characters due to polygon restrictions. Due to the deadlines imposed, the team were forced to cut corners, meaning that the game reached store shelves in a poor condition. For Legend, the staff at Crystal Dynamics created a proprietary engine from the ground up, named the Crystal Engine. The engine and the game's content were developed in parallel, leading to scheduling and workload difficulties. Anniversary used the same engine as Legend. Underworld used an all-new engine built specifically for the game, although its basic codebase was shared with Legend. In Underworld, Lara's movements were animated using full motion capture, with Olympic gymnast Heidi Moneymaker providing the character's animations. For the 2013 reboot, a new engine called "Foundation" was created for the game. Motion capture was again used for the 2013 reboot. An updated version of the Foundation engine was used again for Rise of the Tomb Raider. For both games in the new reboot, Lara's hair movements were made more realistic using a technology called TresFX.
Upon release, Tomb Raider became an unexpected success with gamers, reaching the top of sales charts and remaining for a considerable time. It went on to sell 7 million units worldwide. Tomb Raider II was an even greater commercial success, with debut sales higher than the first game and total worldwide sales of 8 million units. Despite varying critical receptions, series sales continued to be strong until the release of Chronicles, which sold just 1.5 million units. While The Angel of Darkness met with initial strong sales, it failed to meet expectations. Since the release of Legends, the series has picked up in sales and popularity. The 2013 reboot eventually sold 8.5 million units, becoming the most commercially successful Tomb Raider title to date. As of 2015, the series has sold 45 million units worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling video game franchises. In addition to the games' success, the 2001 movie adaptation grossed $275 million, making it the highest-grossing video game adaptation until overtaken in 2010 by Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
Multiple video game journalists, including Electronic Gaming Monthly's Crispin Boyer in 1997 and Eurogamer's Martyn Carroll in 2008, have cited the series as a pioneer in the medium, both laying the foundations for and popularising action-adventure and platforming games. Carrol also credited the series for bringing video gaming out into the cultural mainstream. In a different article, Eurogamer also cited The Angel of Darkness as a pioneer of mixing different video game genres. The public's reactions to the series over the years have conversely had a profound effect upon the series' direction and identity, as noted in a 2008 review of the series' history by Develop.
The character of Lara Croft has similarly enjoyed popularity, standing out during her initial appearance in the male-dominated video game market, and continuing to stand out throughout the series' history. After her debut in 1996, Lara Croft was famously featured on the front cover of British culture magazine The Face, a position previously only held by real-life celebrities. She similarly was featured in Irish rock band U2's PopMart Tour. The character was inducted onto the Walk of Game in 2006, and earned multiple mentions in the Guinness World Records: she was recognised as the "most successful human video game heroine" in 2006, and earned six awards in 2010. As part of the latter honours, Guinness World Records editor Gaz Deaves said that the character "epitomises all that's great about video gaming". In an article for 1UP.com, Jeremy Parish said that Lara's sex appeal was the main draw for early fans, a facet the Eidos exploited for marketing and attempted to emulate in other products. He also cited other writers' statements that her popularity stemmed from player empathy with her ability to survive tough situations, alongside contrasting against weaker female characters such as Princess Peach. However, alongside this praise, she has divided opinion as to her character design and consequent sexuality: particularly among feminist critics, she is both hailed as an empowering figure for women, and a negative role model due to her improbable proportions. Later, more realistic redesigns lessened these criticisms to a degree.
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