Tomb Raider (1996)
Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. It was initially released in 1996 for the Sega Saturn, MS-DOS, and PlayStation. It stars famed archaeologist Lara Croft.
In 2007, the game was remade, as Tomb Raider: Anniversary, to commemorate the franchise's tenth anniversary.
Lara Croft, a renowned archaeologist, is contacted by Jacqueline Natla about an ancient artifact called "The Scion" which her father had been searching for. She sets out to find this artefact, only to discover that it is only one of three pieces.
Why It Rocks
- The game set a new benchmark for future 3D action games thanks in part to its vast and open design.
- The levels themselves are huge. Not only that, but they also vary greatly in their overall layouts, so they don't feel too samey.
- Introduces Lara Croft, who has become famous for her portrayal of sexual empowerment and still being a total badass.
- The graphics were cutting-edge for its time, and still looked good despite the compromises made.
- Has an awesome soundtrack, and it is only used sparingly to create a sense of tension and mystery.
- The animation is very smooth, more so on PC..
- Controls are fairly simple to understand, as the action button for example is context sensitive. Navigation is also very straight forward, and the environments are designed around the control scheme that's used.
- If you have the game on PC, you get an expansion called Tomb Raider Gold - Shadow of the Cat (Unfinished Business outside the US), which contains four additional levels.
- The Sega Saturn version is almost the same level of quality as the PS1 version. Despite the Flaws mentioned below
- Despite being an early CD based game, the loading times are incredibly short, being less than 10 seconds on PS1. The game saves very quickly as well. The PC port loads INSTANTLY most likely due to being installed on a Hard Drive.
- While the levels are mostly linear, they still have loads of room for exploring. Some levels, like "The Tomb of Qualopec" and "St. Francis' Folly" even have many rooms that can be entered in any order, so those levels can be played differently each time should the player chose to do so.
- There are many ways to die in the game, including the touch of King Midas! Therefore, dying is a lot more interesting compared to other platformers where the character simply falls over and dies. One particular death is pretty gruesome (though still tame compared to the most recent installments).
- You have a small selection of weapons to be found; Pistols have infinite ammo, the Shotgun is great at close quarters, the Magnums are stronger than the Pistols, and the Uzi's are rapid fire guns. Each weapon has their uses, and one is never to be used more than the others.
- The use of black distance fog is used to create a more eerie atmosphere for indoor levels, though you can still see for a reasonable distance. However, The PC Port with the patch mentioned below lets remove the distance fog if you want.
- Lara and Natla sound okay.
- Atlantis is a creepy H.R. Giger like place with things like muscle tissue and bones along with inscriptions of something much more technological advanced surrounding the area almost as if the place is alive. Not to the mention the creatures you fight there: the Atlanteans.
- The graphics, while good for the time, haven't really aged very well, with their low polygon count and pixelated textures. This is because the developers had to reduce the graphics to accommodate for the vast level design. Also the Lack of lip-sync during in-game cutscenes.
- The voice acting isn't that good.
- Because it uses tank controls, movement feels rather sluggish, and require very precise positioning to get anywhere.
- Texture glitching, and a lot of it. You can practically see where the textures connect.
- The last level, "The Great Pyramid", is the hardest level of them all as it combines every obstacle that you've face in the game.
- The only way to save is using Save Crystals; these are single use, and only appear in fixed locations. Though the PC version lets you save anywhere anytime.
- The Sega Saturn version has framerate issues, poor audio quality, and lower resolution.
- The PC port lacks the event based music from the console versions and has black lines around FMVs, this can be fixed with a patch found here.
Reception and Legacy
Tomb Raider was critically acclaimed at the time of release. On GameRankings, it holds a 91.67% on PC, 90.02% on PS1, and 86.80% on Saturn. It praised for its graphics, atmosphere, environments, cinematic approach to storytelling, and level variety. The game was also a massive critical success, selling over 7 million copies world, and pulled Eidos Interactive out of a $2.6 million debt, generating $14.5 million profit in just 12 months. The game strongly contributed towards the success of the PlayStation.
In addition, Lara Croft was also widely praised for breaking away from the standard male perspective, and is hailed as one of the most iconic video game characters of all time, She has been featured heavily outside of gaming, appearing in many comics, magazines, and movies. She is also recognized as the "Most Recognizable Female Video Game Character" by the 2008 Gamer's Edition of the Guinness World Records.