Tomb Raider (1996 video game)
Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. It was originally released in 1996 for Sega Saturn, PlayStation and MS-DOS. Tomb Raider was also released into the mobile gaming market for N-Gage devices in 2003. The game was released for the PlayStation Network in North America in August 2009, and in Europe in August 2010. Tomb Raider follows the exploits of Lara Croft, an English archaeologist in search of ancient treasures.
The game was critically and commercially successful, selling around 7.5 million copies worldwide and earning a 91 aggregate score according to Metacritic and is considered widely influential, serving as a template for many 3D action-adventure games that would follow.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Gameplay
- 3 Development
- 4 Alternate versions, special editions and remakes
- 5 Reception
- 6 Legacy
- 7 Further reading
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The story opens with a prologue in Los Alamos County, New Mexico, when a nuclear test causes a great explosion which exposes an ancient device buried beneath the desert surface. The device unlocks and reveals a person in suspended animation. The story then continues in the present day.
At a hotel in Calcutta, Lara Croft is approached by an American named Larson Conway, who works for the wealthy businesswoman Jacqueline Natla, owner of Natla Technologies. At Natla's request, Lara sets out on an expedition to recover a mysterious artefact called the Scion (//) from the lost tomb of Qualopec, in the mountains of Peru. After successfully retrieving the object, she is attacked by Larson who attempts to claim it. She beats him then questions him, learning that the artefact she has is only a fragment and that a man named Pierre Dupont has been hired by Natla to collect the rest.
Lara breaks into Natla Technologies to find out Pierre's whereabouts. She discovers a medieval monk's journal, which reveals the depths of an ancient monastery of St. Francis in Greece to house the tomb of Tihocan, a ruler of Atlantis, along with a second piece of the Scion. Travelling to the monastery, Lara descends through an expansive underground complex, pursued and attacked throughout by Pierre Dupont. At the tomb of Tihocan, Lara recovers the second piece of the Scion and finally kills Pierre. An inscription inside the tomb states that Tihocan was "one of the two just rulers" of Atlantis.
When Lara joins the two pieces of the Scion, she receives a vision of the three Atlantean rulers and their respective pieces of the Scion. One of them utilises it to create a mutant breed, but the other two confront her, and take her piece of the Scion. Then Atlantis is struck by a fireball from the skies, and the three pieces of the Scion become scattered as the civilisation is destroyed. One of them goes to Egypt, Lara's next destination.
Lara travels to the City of Khamoon, a temple complex in Egypt that houses the final fragment. Here she battles the fierce mutants seen in her vision, and is once again confronted by Larson, this time in a battle to the death. She then takes the final piece of the Scion from the underground sanctuary. Upon leaving the tomb, she is ambushed by Natla and her henchmen, who steal the three artefacts and nearly kill her.
Having escaped, Lara stows away on their boat, which takes her to a remote island where mining operations of Natla Technologies have partially exposed the Great Pyramid of Atlantis. After making her way through the mines dispatching Natla's goons and the mutant-infested interior of Atlantis, Lara reaches the heart of the pyramid chamber, where the complete Scion has been fused together as a source of power. Touching it, Lara receives another vision, where Natla is revealed as the previously seen third ruler of Atlantis. She betrays her co-rulers by abusing the power of the Scion for genetic experimentation, and as punishment is locked in a stasis cell by Tihocan and Qualopec, her resting place until the prologue of the game.
Natla enters the chamber and confronts Lara; having reclaimed the artefacts, she attempts to restore her former power with an army of mutants. Lara attempts to shoot the scion, Natla tackles her through the observation window. Natla falls into a crevasse, but Lara manages to land on the breeding platform, confronting Natla's largest mutant abomination. After defeating the monstrosity, she destroys the scion and attempts to escape the collapsing pyramid. As she makes her way out she meets Natla a final time, now mutated and winged. After beating her, Lara flees the island just as the place is destroyed.
In Tomb Raider, the player controls the archaeologist Lara Croft, in search for the three mysterious Scion artefacts across the world. The game is presented in third person perspective. Lara is always visible and the camera follows the action from behind or over her shoulder. The world she inhabits is fully drawn in three dimensions and characterised by its cubic nature. Ledges, walls and ceilings mostly sit at 90 degrees to each other, but sometimes feature sloping planes.
The object of Tomb Raider is to guide Lara through a series of tombs and other locations in search of treasures and artefacts. On the way, she must kill dangerous animals and other creatures, while collecting objects and solving puzzles to gain access to an ultimate prize, usually a powerful artefact. Gunplay is restricted to the killing of various animals that appear throughout each stage, although occasionally Lara may be faced with a human opponent. Instead the emphasis lies on solving puzzles and performing trick jumps to complete each level. As such, Tomb Raider in essence harkens back to the classical form of platform style gameplay.
Movement in the game is varied and allows for complex interactions with the environment. Besides walking, running, and jumping, Lara can perform side-steps, hang on ledges, roll over, dive, and swim through water. In a free environment, Lara has two basic stances: one with weapons drawn and one with her hands free. By default she carries two pistols with infinite ammo. Additional weapons include the shotgun, dual magnums and dual Uzis. At a certain point in the story, Lara will be stripped of all her weapons, leaving the player defenceless and forced to recover her pistols, a development which later became a staple of the series. Numerous enemies as well as a variety of lethal traps can bring about Lara's death in Tomb Raider, the most important threat of which is falling to death. As the game adopts a platform style approach of progress, well timed jumps must often bring Lara safely to the other side of a ledge or she will plummet to the ground below. Other means by which the game will prematurely end include death by burning, drowning, electrocution, becoming impaled on spikes, killed by human enemies, or creatures and even being turned into gold by the hand of Midas.
A general action button is used to perform a wide range of movements in Tomb Raider, such as picking up items, pulling switches, firing guns, pushing or pulling blocks, and grabbing onto ledges. Regular items to pick up include ammo, and small and large medi-packs. Game-specific items are keys and artefacts required to complete a stage. Any item that is collected is held onto in Lara's inventory until it is used. The puzzles that the player encounters across each level vary: pulling specific combinations of levers, a course of timed jumps, avoiding a certain trap or collecting several keystones. Throughout each stage, one or more secrets may be located. Discovering these secrets is optional, and when the player has found one a tune plays. The locations of these secrets vary in difficulty to reach. Some are hidden along the roadside in bushes, others require the completion of a hidden course or optional puzzle to be found. The player is usually rewarded with extra items.
In the Sega Saturn and PlayStation versions of Tomb Raider, saving the game is restricted to fixed save points within each level, marked by a floating blue crystal or by completing the level. When Lara touches one of these the option to save is made available. The scarcity of these points, however, means that if the player dies, large portions of each level must be replayed. Following criticism on this system, Core implemented a save anywhere at any time feature in Tomb Raider II. The DOS version of the game allows the player to save at any time. A stage is finished when a certain doorway is reached, an artefact is recovered, or a boss is destroyed.
Preliminary work on Tomb Raider commenced in 1993. The title was crafted by Core Design of Derby, England, who took 18 months to develop it. The team consisted of six people, among them Toby Gard, who is credited with the creation of Lara Croft. The character went through several changes before Core settled on the version she became famous for. In its earliest conception, Lara Croft was a male placeholder for an as yet undefined character, but as Core decided that puzzles and stealth should be more important to the game than action, they found that these requirements better suited a female character than a classic male action hero.
Lara Croft was originally born under the name "Laura Cruz". As her backstory began to take shape and it was decided that she would become more English and that it would be a major part of who the character was, her first and last names were changed to reflect this. According to Toby Gard, the idea to make her more akin to a female Indiana Jones was not present from the beginning. In fact, in early concepts, Lara originally had a cold-blooded militaristic-type personality, but Gard and the team decided to create and play up the "proper English lady" aspect of her character to establish that there was more to Lara's personality and life than just her immediate actions during Tomb Raider's gameplay. During some interviews, Toby Gard has also claimed that he changed the character from male to female because he decided that if he had to stare at the character's backside for hours on end while designing and playtesting the game, it might as well be an attractive female backside—although this is assumed to be a joke on the part of Gard, poking fun at the attention Lara was receiving for her sex appeal and had little if any actual sway into the final decision to make Lara a woman.
The front of the Derby Studios building where Core Design worked on the game was later used as the front of Croft Manor. It is Core's contention that the company was struggling somewhat with 32-bit development at that time. The first glints of the game were seen on Sega Saturn development kits. However, while the series would see four more instalments on the original PlayStation, no additional Tomb Raider games were ever released for the Saturn following the original. Additional Sega ports were released on Dreamcast.
The music for Tomb Raider was composed by Nathan McCree. Unlike most other games of the time, there was not a musical track playing constantly throughout the game; instead, limited musical cues would play only during specially-selected moments to produce a dramatic effect, such as enhancing tension during an action sequence or accompanying the discovery of a hidden secret. For the majority of the game, the only audio heard is action-based effects (e.g. footsteps or explosions), atmospheric sounds (like the roar of a nearby waterfall), and Lara's own grunts and sighs, all of which were enhanced because they did not have to compete with music. The game uses a solo oboe melody for the main theme. Variations of this main theme have been used throughout all of the Tomb Raider games. The soundtrack of Anniversary was composed by Troels Brun Folmann, but loosely based on the original.
Alternate versions, special editions and remakes
PlayStation "Greatest Hits" versions
The Greatest Hits edition of the PlayStation version had added demos and videos of other Eidos games, although the content changed several times over the course of additional re-pressings of the game. The first version contained demos for Tomb Raider II and either one of Fighting Force or Ninja: Shadow of Darkness. The next print contained Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Tomb Raider III, and Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko playable demos with videos of Fear Effect and Fighting Force 2. A third edition included no playable demos, but rather a trailer for the Chicken Run video game and a viewable preview of the (at the time) upcoming PlayStation 2 launch title TimeSplitters.
Tomb Raider: Unfinished Business and Tomb Raider Gold
In 1998, shortly after the release of Tomb Raider II, Tomb Raider was re-released on the PC. This release, titled Tomb Raider Gold - The Shadow Of The Cat in North America, and Tomb Raider: Unfinished Business elsewhere, featured the regular game as well as two new expert chapters ("Shadow of the Cat" and "Unfinished Business") in four levels, two levels each. The levels for Tomb Raider Gold were created in the San Francisco office of Eidos by Phil Campbell, Rebecca Shearin, and Gary LaRochelle.
The first chapter of the game takes place in Egypt, and occurs several months after the events of Tomb Raider. The story sees Lara returning to the City of Khamoon to investigate a mysterious statue of the Egyptian goddess Bast. This leads to her discovery of an entirely new temple dedicated to the cat deity, which includes a giant gold statue several stories high. The second chapter takes place before those of the first chapter—quite literally straight after the events of Tomb Raider. This chapter starts with Lara sliding down the same slope as in Tomb Raider's final level, and finishes with her destroying the last remnants of the Atlantean Race.
Shadow of the Cat features two levels: "Return to Egypt" and "Temple of the Cat". Unfinished Business features two other levels, called: "Atlantean Stronghold" and "The Hive".
The Tomb Raider series' popularity began to stagnate in the early 2000s, and dropped after the critical and commercial failure of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. Core Design was sold to Rebellion Developments, and development of the Tomb Raider series was handed to Crystal Dynamics, best known for Legacy of Kain. Tomb Raider: Legend was released in 2006, its story had a great focus on the Mythological King Arthur and the legendary Excalibur. The game started a new timeline with a different incarnation of Lara Croft. The game became critically and commercially successful, selling 4.5 million units.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary
The first hint about a remake of the original Tomb Raider was a financial release from SCi Entertainment that revealed a game Tomb Raider 10th Anniversary Edition for PSP, which was supposed to be released in summer 2006. Another hint appeared as a rumour on 30 May 2006: "Eidos/SCi are planning on celebrating Lara's 10th birthday by releasing a remake of her original adventure". A video game trailer showing footage of a new Tomb Raider game was distributed on the Internet on 8 June 2006. The titles and logos of the trailer claimed that the title was Lara Croft Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition, a PSP game by Core Design. The trailer featured Lara Croft in familiar yet remodelled environments from the original Tomb Raider. On 15 June 2006, Core Design released an official statement claiming that the trailer was "an internal presentation of a game that was being developed by Core Design until very recently", and had been completely cancelled by SCi.
However, on 16 June, Eidos Interactive officially announced a 10th Anniversary Edition of Tomb Raider, being developed by Crystal Dynamics instead of Core Design. On 30 October 2006 Eidos announced that this new instalment in the series would be named Tomb Raider: Anniversary. The game is a retelling of the first Tomb Raider. Tomb Raider: Anniversary was released for PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2, Wii, and Windows platforms. The PlayStation 2 and PC versions were released on 1 June 2007 in Europe, and in the US] on 5 June 2007. The PSP version was released in June, the Xbox 360 version was released in October and the Wii version was released 14 November. The Xbox 360 version of the video game was made available for download from the Xbox Live Marketplace in November 2007 with the Tomb Raider: Legend disc being required to use it. However, the game was also released later on disc to retailers, just like all of the other versions. A mobile version of Tomb Raider Anniversary was developed by FinBlade.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary was released and remastered in HD for the PlayStation 3, which came in a package alongside Legend and Underworld.
On 5 March 2013, Square Enix released Tomb Raider, billed as a reboot of the franchise. In Tomb Raider, the player is given control of 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.
Tomb Raider remains the most critically acclaimed game in the long-running franchise, and has sold around 7.5 million copies worldwide becoming a best-seller. Upon its release in 1996, the game was widely praised by gaming magazines for its revolutionary graphics, inventive gameplay, and involving storyline. In 2001 Game Informer ranked it the 86th best game ever made. They praised it for Lara's appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike. The level of sophistication Tomb Raider reached by combining state-of-the-art graphics, an atmospheric soundtrack, and a cinematic approach to gameplay was at the time unprecedented. The resulting sales were consequential, topping the British charts a record three times, and contributing much to the success of the PlayStation. In the previous year, Eidos Interactive had recorded a nearly $2.6 million in pre-tax loss. The success of the game turned this loss into a $14.5 million profit in only a year.
As one of the top selling games of the PlayStation console, it was one of the first to be released on PlayStation's Platinum series, and its success made Tomb Raider II the most anticipated game of 1997. It also won a multitude of Game of the Year awards from leading industry publications. In 1998, Tomb Raider won the Origins Award for Best Action Computer Game of 1997. The Lara Croft character was prominently featured in the popular media outside the realm of video gaming, for instance on the cover of cutting-edge pop culture magazine The Face in June 1997. In the final issue of the Official UK PlayStation Magazine, the game was chosen as the fourth best game of all time. Tomb Raider, along with its successor, Tomb Raider II, are the two best selling games in the franchise.
Nevertheless, Tomb Raider received some criticism for minor camera and object glitches, as well as its save system. Additionally, some fans complained about the lack of action in the game, in favour of puzzle solving. Ironically, Tomb Raider II would be criticised for its overabundance of violence, especially against human opponents.
The game's use of a hard-edged, female heroine has been both hailed as revolutionary (breaking away from the male perspective of game playing) and undergone multi-factorial, critiques that either consider Lara’s portrayal to be a positive, visual metaphor of sexual empowerment, or objectifying and sexist. Nevertheless, Lara caused a sensation in the gaming world and catapulted her to cyber celebrity status both in and out of the video game community. Aside from game appearances, Lara was featured on covers of magazines, in comic books and movies. The amount of media coverage Lara received at the time was previously unheard of, with many magazines even outside the video game industry printing articles on her. Several large corporations, such as Timberland, and Lucozade wanted to use her as their spokesperson. The image of Lara Croft was used by U2 in their PopMart Tour.
The Tomb Raider series was credited with six official Guinness World Records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include Most Official Real Life Stand-ins, Highest-Grossing Video-game Movie, and Most Recognizable Female Video-Game Character.
An infamous footnote in Lara's history is the so-called Nude Raider patch. This patch was created externally and was never housed on the Eidos or Core websites. The patch, when added to an existing Tomb Raider game (PC-based versions only), caused Lara to appear naked. Contrary to rumour, there is no nude code in any console version of the game. In 1999, Core Design considered taking legal action against websites, which hosted nude pictures of Lara Croft, stating that "we have a large number of young fans and we don't want them stumbling across the pictures when they do a general search for Tomb Raider". In April 2004, it was falsely alleged that an insider from Eidos reported to a Tomb Raider electronic mailing list that Eidos had begun suing gamers using the Nude Raider patches. Eidos sent cease and desist letters to the owners of nuderaider.com who were hosting the Nude Raider patch, enforcing their copyright of Tomb Raider. Sites depicting nude images of Lara Croft have been sent cease and desist notices and shut down, and Eidos Interactive was awarded the rights to the domain name nuderaider.com. As of December 2010[update], the nuderaider domain is registered to Netcorp of Glendale, California and points to a generic adult-themed search engine page.
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