Tomb Raider is a game that, unless you’ve been hiding away in some cave your entire life (your bedroom doesn’t count) you’ll have heard of. The iconic action platformer landed on our PlayStations in 1996, 19 years ago. Now Lara is still leaping around rocks and going in to creepy looking caves full of wolves, and possibly ghosts, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
The story to the first Tomb Raider is fairly sparse. It begins when a nuclear test exposes an ancient device buried beneath the desert of Los Alamos, New Mexico. When the device unlocks it reveals a person in suspended animation. On to present day and we see Lara hunt for pieces of a talisman called the Scion. After much tomb raiding and killing Lara obtains some pieces of the talisman, joins them, and receives a vision of the three Atlantean rulers and their respective pieces of the Scion. The rest of the game involves much tomb raiding and fighting over the Scion which of course, cannot fall in to the wrong hands.
Even though the story is fairly sparse and clichéd, it made up for this by having superb, full voicing acting and engaging characters. Although it hasn’t aged well, at the time the visuals were impressive and were a great backdrop to the theme. Another issue that people experience when going back to the game is that the controls are much more clunky that what we’re used to today. Tomb Raider had a lot to offer though, it’s 3D platforming coupled with elements of adventure and shooter games melded well and people responded as such.
One element of the older Tomb Raider games I am sure everyone will remember is the ability to explore Lara’s mansion. This served as a kind of tutorial and practice area, but it was good fun to just go back there and run around the place and go for a dip in the pool.
Another element that made Tomb Raider so enjoyable to play were the enemies. There’s many a game that puts you in the position of getting eaten by a cougar or a bear (or a honey badger), Tomb raider had plenty of things that wanted to shoot/maim or eat you. From the regular bats and black panthers to giant gorillas, centaurs, dinosaurs and cat mummies the game had plenty of opportunities for you to test the skills you picked up at croft mansion.
The music in Tomb Raider was composed by Nathan McCree, who has won several awards for his work. The music in Tomb Raider however, didn’t play throughout the game. Instead the music would play during cutscenes or at special moments in gameplay. There is some great scores throughout which you can take a listen to below.
The games use of Lara as a female protagonist garnered much talk at the time and is still a topic of conversation today being the subject of both positive and negative critiques. At the time she became a digital star with her appearing on magazine covers, comics, movies and being used for adverts. This is probably one of the reasons Lara remains one of the most recognisable and loved characters in gaming. This cult status also nabbed the series six official Guinness World Records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition 2008 including Most Official Real Life Stand-ins, Highest-Grossing Video-game Movie, and Most Recognizable Female Video-Game Character.
Of course looking back at Tomb Raider means that memories of it is peppered with nostalgia, but in my view it’s deserving of it’s praise and iconic status. It brought something new, fantastic level design, solid visuals, great gameplay and memorable voice acting and characters and of course.. It gave us Lara.
So long live Lara. May she always be on our consoles going in to questionable looking caves full of bones that most people would run a mile from.