This November, we celebrated the latest instalment in the Lara Croft series – Rise of the Tomb Raider. The highly anticipated action-adventure game delivered not only on its terrific gameplay but it also hi-definition graphics, which allowed us to see Lara Croft in a whole different light.
It’s been twenty years since the release of the first Tomb Raider in 1996 and there’s been such a dramatic change in her appearance we thought we would write a post about the evolution and the changes we see in her.
Twenty years on, this game still kicks ass. This was the first time we were introduced to Lara Croft in her English mansion and with clunky graphics and questionable soundscapes; it was easily one of the best games to come out of the nineties. Little did this Tomb Raider know, she’d feature is an abundance of other games right up to now.
Poor old Lara was made up of only 540 (very pointy) polygons in this game, meaning that the graphics were rather poor but gameplay more than made up for this. Considering this game was made buy only 6 guys across three years, it was a pretty solid attempt!
Core Design got to work pretty quickly after releasing the first game, as just a year later Tomb Raider II was released. Originally released on PlayStation One, PC and Mac, Tomb Raider II is the second best selling game in the series. The game saw new weapons and moves from Lara but the storyline carried on from the first.
Graphically, the game had improved slightly since the first, but technology hadn’t really developed at the speed it does now so no dramatic changes unfortunately.
Following the success of the first two Tomb Raider games meant that a further third would be released a year later. Released on the PS1 and computer, Tomb Raider III saw Lara looking for four pieces of a meteorite that were scattered across the world.
On the cover for the game, Lara followed the 90s trends with her small, dark circular sunglasses while the rest of her outfit stayed very much the same. In terms of graphics, the gameplay had improved but the characteristics of Lara stayed the same.
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation was the first time that Lara graced the Dreamcast as well as being available on Mac OS, a huge step forward in the 90s. The game itself was a huge commercial success, selling over five million copies worldwide.
For Lara, the game saw new moves, allowing her to grab hold of dangling ropes from the ceiling and swing from them, as well as being able to climb up and down them. For the first time she could also shimmy around corners, helpful when trying to stay unseen. In terms of graphics, the character herself had a much smoother and more refined appearance. This was because she now had flexible joints; finally she could bend her elbows and knees!
Unfortunately, Tomb Raider Chronicles was the least successful of all the Tomb Raider games, it sold just one and a half million copies and was released on PlayStation, Dreamcast, PC and Mac.
Lara herself didn’t change very much at all graphically; the animation was pretty much the same as The Last Revelation. However, she did sport a new camouflage snowsuit, which made a change from her super short shorts and her vest top.
Core Design took a welcomed three years off before they released the sixth instalment of the Lara Croft series, this time being released on the PlayStation 2, PC and Mac. The Angel of Darkness was delayed release twice and when it was released it sold two and a half million copies despite it being criticised for its bugs and poor controls.
The gameplay itself was very similar to the previous games, no dramatic changes but of course everything became a little more hi-definition, this was because production for the game began directly after Chronicles was released!
After another three years passed and the next generation of consoles are released, Lara Croft is finally back on our screens in Tomb Raider: Legend. Originally released on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Gamecube and PC, this game saw commercial success, selling over four and a half million copies.
The graphics for Tomb Raider: Legend was a world away from the other games in the series. In this game you could actually see the character’s makeup and her body was more defined compared to the rest of the games, not to mention they enhanced her curves even more so than in other games.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary is probably the most forgotten game in the series, it was the worst selling game in the franchise with just over 1.3 million sales. It was released on PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable Xbox 360, Wii and Mac.
The game itself was a remake of the original 1996 Tomb Raider, with improved graphics and new moves that gave players an updated feel to the game. The animation was based on the same animation from Tomb Raider: Legend, which was wicked to see but we wanted a new storyline!
Tomb Raider: Underworld was the next installment in the Lara Croft series and carried on from Legend and at the same time tied up some of the narrative ties from Anniversary. It was released on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, PC and Mac.
This game saw Lara being more receptive to her environment, which was a huge step forward for the franchise, footsteps would be left in the mud and she could move foliage out of the way with her hands (depending on what weapon she was carrying). The weather played a huge part in this game too, for example if it happened to be raining when Lara was climbing a ledge then it’d be more likely for her to lose grip or slip off.
Tomb Raider is the fourth title to be developed by Crystal Dynamics and they began work on Tomb Raider directly after Underworld was released. The title was a delayed release and was originally meant to be released in 2012, but was pushed back for release in 2013. The game was originally released on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC and Mac but was later made available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Rather than following on from the narrative in Underworld, Crystal Dynamics decided to completely rebrand Tomb Raider and focus on her origins. The game went on to becoming the best selling copy of Tomb Raider to date and sold over a million copies in the first 48 hours of release. While most characteristics of Lara are carried over from previous games, there is a huge change in the way she looks in this game, everything is more crisp and realistic, suited for the next-gen consoles.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is the latest addition to the franchise and was released exclusively on Xbox One in November 2015, it is set to be released on PC in early 2015 and will be available for PlayStation players in late 2016. The game is the sequel to the reboot of Tomb Raider and is developed by Crystal Dynamics.
The combat in this game has been redesigned, with more options for Lara to use her sneak and stealth mode. Players can also scavenge materials from plants and animals, which will allow them to be able to create items to help them through the game. In the game Lara finally has a realistic body with curves that suit a normal body shape, eligible facial features and silky long hair that is kept in excellent condition considering where she is and what she does! Lara Croft has come a very long way since the 540 polygons that were used to create her in the original game, which was released nine years ago!
Written for gamesGRABR by @cleogreaves