#11 would be TOMB RAIDER CHRONICLES, aka Tomb Raider 5. I like this game. Everything about it brought me back to my previous playthroughs of
previous Tomb Raider games. From the design of certain enemies–like the dog in Roma (indeed a distant cousin of dogs in Venice) To key characters like Larson, Pierre or Van Croy.
A few nice exceptions taken aside, the overall level design looks too familiar,
and that’s the real problem. There’s nothing standing out visually.
Even old Ireland! The truth is “Chronicles” gives the impression it was released BEFORE “The Last Revelation”.
That’s probably why it caused me to grow disinterested in the franchise because the result was somewhat disappointing (at the time). The story in Ireland was way too long, which killed the little creativity in this story.
With such a labyrinth-like structure, you have to be really patient to go through that stage. There are funny elements, of course, but that’s not
enough to save “Tomb Raider Chronicles”. Level design is way below what we saw in “The Last Revelation”. You clearly see that there were two different teams,
each working on a different game. Fortunately, the franchise has evolved and “Chronicles”, though I like the overall idea of the structure–one that is made of different stories; remains void of inspiration and in many instances genuine creativity. I like the way the last story wrapped up the mystery of the strange artifact we’d all seen in Lara’s home in the third installment (TR3). I liked the music a lot. But this level is also known for its bugs. So even THAT is not enough… It’s not a bad game. I see this as a condensed Tomb Raider game that suffered from high expectations after “The Last Revelation” and failed to meet them
because the game was released too early and capitalized on what had happened in the previous episode… #10: TOMB RAIDER ANGEL OF DARKNESS.
Now, here is “Chronicles'” underestimated little bother.
A detective noir game with some action,
from time to time (!) The title has its highlights for sure, but any form of enjoyment is short being hampered by the gameplay, especially on computers. Beautiful levels and a neat story.
Right-put mysteries and a gloomy atmosphere… That’s not enough, in my opinion,
to make it my favorite Tomb Raider game. It was originally at the bottom of the list. But let’s give it some credit: At least, for this one, the developers made some genuine effort to produce something truly groundbreaking for the Tomb Raider franchise. The area structure found in the level design can sometimes make your playthrough somewhat… unnecessarily lengthy and difficult but once the pathfinding effort has been done, like previous games, it becomes more enjoyable to proceed through. Unlike “Chronicles” it has content and if it were to be remade one day, it could easily become a fans favorite. But for now reality is different, isn’t it? Number 9: TOMB RAIDER (2013), “A Survivor is Born”. Tomb Raider’s second reboot found itself at the ninth position of this top. It’s Tomb Raider 9 after all!
It was good to rediscover Lara Croft. Attempts at making her more human are not new, they were already present in “Angel of Darkness”. The problem is in that game,
it is simply (too much and) not credible. The game focuses way too much on action and that’s why it’s so short in spite of all the collectibles you can try to find on your first playthrough.
Being ambushed by hordes of enemies is absolutely not what I expect of a Tomb Raider game. “A survival is born”, yeah! But Tomb Raider games are not just about surviving! So yes there are caves and tombs to explore but the puzzle system they use and abuse for every single one of them is amusing to begin with (!) The point is that exploration is reduced to that weird Island where you end up killing Japanese royal soldiers and the zombie queen Himiko to finish the game and that was the part of the game I liked the most… to be honest. Because in that game you can’t even kill a wolf by yourself… the only wolf you get to kill is a QTE. So yeah, the first part of the game is long.
You don’t do much except moving forwards, wondering…
“What’s that game I’m playing already?” Fortunately the gameplay is fluid.
I enjoyed the few platform sections the player has to go through and the overall game was sort of groundbreaking for the franchise, that’s probably the only thing it has.
Without Tomb Raider 9, there wouldn’t have been any other Tomb Raider games. So I’m glad that it came out.
The question remains: have Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos learnt of their mistakes? The LEGEND has it that #8 is TOMB RAIDER 7.
Now I like “Legend” very much, but there are some things that I simply cannot forgive in a Tomb Raider game. If I was globally impressed by the level design and the polished gameplay “Legend” offers, I simply hated those moments that I think do not belong to such a game. As for “A Survivor is Born” in 2013, for example. Being regularly ambushed by your enemies and shooting at bad guys while driving a motorcycle in Peru could be amusing but not in Tomb Raider game and not in so long sequences! In “Legend”, and that’s the problem, action has taken precedence over typical platform gameplay
you’d expect of the Tomb Raider franchise. The same rule of thumb applies to the various and numerous QuickTime Events you find in that game. It would be unfair not to admit that “Legend” was more than just that–it was a rebirth. It reintroduced Lara’s Home. It reintroduced secrets; and brought us players through many areas throughout the world. Some more interesting than others. Graphics are quite good actually, even for 2006 but that’s it! Yes, you have puzzles and traps.
But so did you in the first Tomb Raider installment…
and that one had a better story. Talking about it… Now #7: TOMB RAIDER (1996). The game that got me acquainted with the franchise. It’s hard to rank all those games and not pay tribute to the first one. Because in France we got our games a little bit later than the rest of the world, I remember my brother used to play it while
Tomb Raider II was coming out. Must have been something like 7 or 8 years old and those dinosaurs (in the Lost Valley) scared the crap out of me. But I liked what I saw.
I liked the ideas the game had been based on: exploration, discovery. An environment where you can move freely; and mythology. Of course, I finished the game when I was older but only after I played the three ones that came after it. The game is really good, but level design is too repetitive and the environment is always enclosed. You never get to see a sunlit-blue sky as you do in Tomb Raider II and some puzzles are difficult only because level design is not always very intuitive. “Unfinished Business” is a nice addition but I would have preferred the order of the levels was coherent with the first entry of this formidable franchise. By the way, to illustrate this classic game I used pictures of Tomb Raider I’s extension’s unofficial remake because my computer could not have the game work properly.
“Unfinished Business” is a nice addition but the levels should have been directly put into the main game. Especially that moment when you get into “The Hive” and detonate everything! That’s so cool and the atmosphere feels so unique.
If you haven’t already try it and, at least, do it for sport! #6: TOMB RAIDER UNDERWORLD, aka Tomb Raider 8. I liked almost everything I saw in “Underworld”. And still, something annoys me. From the beginning to the end, it is hard not to enjoy the beauty of the environment Lara wades through and the fluid gameplay “Underworld” has. BUT (and that’s a big one!) It is way too easy and way too short.
That “Legend” was short was understandable because it was the first time Crystal Dynamics developed a Tomb Raider game, but after “Anniversary”, that “Underworld” lacks some texture is not understandable (and by texture, I mean LIFE). The game is beautiful but it looks uninspired and empty.
Thailand is probably the only exception there.” Underworld” cannot go higher on my list for the simple reason that there is something missing. Everything is way too linear though the game perfectly alternates between puzzles and action. Lara’s hints were a nice addition and so was the sonar though I usually like to linger a little bit, these help you make sure you’re following the right direction and gives you information about the map whenever the camera wouldn’t cooperate. It’s a nice game and fun to replay if you like large puzzle rooms, and not as fast-paced as “Legend”.
There is no QTE I can remind myself of and that’s good.
The game and levels should have been expanded a little bit and the story should have been more tightly written for “Underworld” to really shine. But still it’s fun and all these secrets will keep yourself going for sure! #5: THE LAST REVELATION.
That game was an accomplishment. At the time, It introduced many new elements and ways of doing things like level design to start with. The tutorial level in Cambodia taken aside, the plot entirely takes place in Egypt and that was both a positive and a bad thing. It was good for immersion. Levels now intermingle and should better be described as big areas with puzzles everywhere… Levels are also really beautiful and they have an atmosphere that you won’t find in “Chronicles”.
Enemies are also more original.
You don’t just move forward and shoot everything. Now you have to find other ways to kill them or you can use explosive rounds as well… Focusing the action in Egypt however, caused damage to “The Last Revelation” because eventually it becomes annoyingly painful and sometimes boring (to progress). But there are good and original moments giving it some cinematic dimension none of the previous games had. “The Last Revelation” was the perfect compromise between what had been done before and what was coming in the future generations. #4: RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER When I finished Tomb Raider the second reboot, I felt more bittersweet than the day I completed “Legend”, the first reboot. I had that optimistic feeling that most of the things I had despised in “A Survivor is born” would be removed eventually because I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. Unlike its predecessor and closer to what we had in “The Last Revelation”, the action in “Rise of the Tomb Raider” takes place somewhere in Siberia. Though you also quickly visit Syria in a flashback at the beginning of the game. Now there are fewer areas or in more exact words, there are fewer big areas, but they are bigger and there are fewer small transition areas. You can progress at your own pace and the RPG elements found in that game are actually neat and more interesting than before. (LARA: “Oh god!”) The same rule goes with a more coherent way of implementing salvaging in the game The amount of things to do and the open-world elements they introduced in that entry can sometimes slow down your progression and That’s just a way of extending your playing time for grinding a little but that’s up to you. I bought the two DLCs as well, and I liked them.
Lara’s Home is back and the “Baba Yaga” DLC was short but the final level reminded me of my good times roaming about the Floating Island in Tomb Raider 2. A nice addition indeed! With “Rise of the Tomb Raider” I felt I was playing perhaps not authentic Tomb Raider but original enough to leave its mark. #3: TOMB RAIDER ANNIVERSARY “Legend” was bittersweet (to say the least) and people expected a lot when that project–project that Core Design could have developed had things been different) became a reality. It was a nice surprise and few people will argue otherwise. Yes, there are QTEs and some boss fights rely exclusively on a specific kind of gameplay you must adopt to bring them down.
Yes, levels were cut, for the most part, and the Cistern has replaced the Tomb of Tihocan. (What about that mummy you normally find there?)
Forget about the past. Anniversary pays homage to the title, but consider it for what it is. Levels all keep the same flavor. But the gameplay is different and of course they had more time than Core Design when Tomb Raider came out. But that is the point: “Anniversary” was well done. It is not the best game in my opinion, but most probably the best of its generation. It was a real pleasure to spend time on it and being under the impression that levels were shorter because I was finding my way more easily. In some cases, that’s an illusion.
With its secrets and relics, the game has potential to be replayed while adding new features to the gameplay like playing with Lara’s doppelganger. My only regret is that they did not include the two levels which (as I said in my previous video) should have been part of the main game.
Still, what a pleasant surprise! Number 2: Tomb Raider 2 and its extension
(“The Golden Mask”) What is there to say that hasn’t been said already about Tomb Raider II? It is probably the most famous title in the franchise and also one of the most popular. Seriously people were crazy when it came out and, just like them, it was the first Tomb Raider game I REALLY played. First there was a demo in Venice and then the whole game and, oh gee, wasn’t that a formidable adventure? The main game takes you to places you’d never expect and culminates with a set of levels that are simply unforgettable. You see what people liked wasn’t that you could drive a boat or a snow plow. But few have actually gotten to the stage of the snow plow (save the purists). It was the story that people liked. Before Marco Bartoli and his sect, Lara hadn’t confronted so many human enemies at the same time and chasing for a dagger with mystical powers was what kept players going through all these stages and some are ridiculously difficult. “The Golden Mask” follows the same line:
Action, first and a few puzzles. Both have in common that their last levels are original and unexpected. For the most part of the levels are well designed and the only section I hate is actually ‘The Deck’ Why isn’t Tomb Raider 2 number one?
Because (I think) Tomb Raider 3 did it better and not just because they finally introduced dynamic lights in their game. Tomb Raider 2 is so famous that many people, many fans, have tried to remake the title using for example Tomb Raider Level Editor (TRLE) and talking about that, recently, someone (Bradley Smy) published a revised version of Tomb Raider and all the levels will be rebuilt. The link is in the description. I did not include any footage in this video because I wanted to surprise to remain as it is. #1: TOMB RAIDER 3, “Adventures of Lara Croft” and
its extension THE LOST* ARTIFACT.
[*mispelled as LAST in the video
(that’s the French title actually)] What is there to praise about this game?
First, its longevity. Even in (glitchless) speedruns TR3 is the lengthiest but this is not the only reason why that game is massive. It took everything good there was in the previous games and made something that, on the one hand, feels very classical but on the other hand, completely new: vehicles, crouching, rocket launchers, aliens, spaceships… all these things were new in Tomb Raider, back in the day. The story is so open, it will take you to four completely different areas with different sets of enemies and unusual options to get rid of them–like using elements in the environment such as lasers or other NPCs to do the dirty work. The gameplay constantly evolves between action like Tomb Raider 2 and puzzles like the first entry. For that reason, the game is really well-paced and although pathfinding can be a difficult task in certain levels (like London),
it will sometimes be rewarding enough for you to keep going, no matter what the difficulty is. The story makes sense. There are a few scripted events adding to the overall plot and to the disturbing ambience of the game even if it is obvious that the artifacts are the only factor binding all the adventures together, giving them coherence . It’s also interesting to see that the story tries to encapsulate a few myths from different cultures. It hinges on a “Deus Ex”-like plot during the Nevada stage, with references to Majestic 12 and Area 51. It brings the player under the channel in “The Lost Artifact” and to the confines of the world, in Antartica, to fight mutants in gloomy mines and explore an ancient city full of bioluminescent bugs and big monsters eager to tear your skin. Tomb Raider III, together with “The Lost Artifact” which came some time after it (after “The Last Revelation” in fact!) gives you the cake and the icing that goes with it. With no less than 6 new levels, “The Lost Artifact” adds to the madness. And the very last level is the best example to illustrate that.
Basically TR3 is dangerous for the unaccustomed but spellbinding for the experience it will make you live.
You even get to see Nessie, the Loch Ness monster. I won’t tell you more–spoilers!–but if you didn’t know that, you know what to do now and there’s a long way to go! Until then I leave you with further exclusive gameplay of “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” thanks to early access and I see you in the next video.