Tomb Raider is a video game developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. It was originally released in 1996 for the Sega Saturn followed shortly thereafter for MS-DOS and PlayStation versions. Tomb Raider was also released into the mobile gaming market, for Windows Mobile Professional in 2002 and the Nokia N-Gage in 2003. Tomb Raider follows the exploits of Lara Croft, an English female archaeologist in search of ancient treasures à la Indiana Jones. The game was a big commercial success, received critical acclaim and has been widely influential. It spawned a number of sequels and a franchise of related media.
In Tomb Raider, Lara Croft hunts for pieces of a talisman called the Scion, the first of which is found in the Tomb of Qualopec, Peru.
The story opens with a prologue in Los Alamos County, New Mexico. A nuclear test causes an earthquake which exposes an ancient device buried beneath the desert. The device is set into motion and reveals a frozen lifeform. The story then continues in the present day.
After Lara Croft returns from an expedition in the Himalayas she is contacted by an American named Larson, 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. However after successfully retrieving the object, she is nearly robbed of it when Larson attempts to kill her outside the tomb. Wasting no time, Lara sets out to discover why Natla double-crossed her, and breaks into her office to find out more about the truth behind the artefact, of which there appears to be more than one piece. She discovers a medieval manuscript which reveals the whereabouts of a second piece of the Scion, which is buried beneath an ancient monastery of St. Francis in Greece. It appears Natla has sent Pierre Dupont, a rival French archaeologist, to recover the fragment from the site. Hot on each others trail, Lara and Pierre race each other through the catacombs of the monastery to get to the second Scion first. The battle comes to a head at the tomb of Tihocan, where Lara recovers the second Scion and finally kills Pierre Dupont. An inscription inside the tomb reveals that Tihocan was one of three joint rulers of Atlantis. At some point a calamity struck which sunk the continent into the ocean and scattered their culture over the world. Qualopec continued to rule in South America, Tihocan in Greece, and it appears a third ruler thrived in Egypt.
Lara travels to the Valley of the Kings where she quickly discovers the third Scion, and is faced with Larson one last time. Upon leaving the tomb however, she is awaited by Natla and her henchmen, who steal the three artefacts from her and nearly kill her. Lara escapes and follows their trail 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, Lara reaches the heart of the pyramid chamber, where the three Scions are fused together as a source of power. In a flashback, it is revealed that Natla was the third ruler of Atlantis, and that she betrayed her co-rulers by abusing the power of the Scion amulet for genetic experimentation. As punishment, she was locked into a stasis cell by Qualopec and Tihocan, and buried beneath the ground. The power released by the pyramid and the Scion caused a major cataclysm destroying the once powerful and advanced civilization. As a result (similar to Easter Island) the survivors lost all their knowledge and power, and had to slowly rebuild from the ground up. Centuries later Natla awoke when the cell was exposed by an atomic bomb testing in Los Alamos during the 1940s. With her cunning and knowledge she quickly became incredibly rich and powerful around the world.
Having regained the power of the artefacts, Natla attempts to restore her former power with an army of genetic mutants. However, Lara manages to destroy the Scion and defeats Natla. The pyramid is destroyed along with the mutants, and the remains of the Atlantean civilization.
Lara in her attack stance, with pistols drawn. St. Francis’ Folly, Greece.
In Tomb Raider, the player controls the female 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 characterized by its cubic nature. Ledges, walls and ceilings sit at 90 degrees to each other, although the game designers sometimes obscure this to make it less obvious.
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.
City of Vilcabamba, Peru.
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, being shot, being crushed, lethal damage from animals, human enemies, or creatures and even being turned into gold.
Key items found throughout the game.
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 medipacks. 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 PlayStation and Sega Saturn versions of Tomb Raider, saving the game is restricted to fixed save points within each level, marked by a floating blue crystal. 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, much to the players’ frustration. Following criticism on this system, Core implemented a save anywhere at any time feature in Tomb Raider II. The DOS and Mac versions of the game allow 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, but it was not until November 1996 that the game actually saw the light of day as a retail product. 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.
As such Lara was born under the name Laura Cruz. “Laura” was later dropped in favour of Lara, to appeal more to American audiences. At the same time, her backstory started to shape up and it was decided she should become more English, hence Cruz was changed to Croft to accommodate this. Personality-wise, Lara was a cold-blooded militaristic type in the early concepts. According to Toby Gard, the idea to make her a female Indiana Jones was not present from the beginning, but rather grew naturally out of the development process as the game took its final form.
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, ultimately, it would be the PlayStation rendition that would be known best.
Tomb Raider was released for DOS, Macintosh, Nokia N-Gage, Pocket PC, and the PlayStation and Sega Saturn game consoles. Saving methods are different – on the DOS and Macintosh versions, the player can save anywhere, while on the PlayStation and Sega Saturn versions the player is required to find Save Crystals to save. The DOS version also does not include the additional incidental music during gameplay. The PlayStation & Sega Saturn version only have one kind of ambience, while the PC has four different ambient tracks.
The Greatest Hits edition of the PlayStation version had extra demos and videos of other Eidos games. The early version contained demos for Tomb Raider II and Fighting Force. The next print contained Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Tomb Raider III, and Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko with videos of Fear Effect and Fighting Force 2. Yet another 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 game TimeSplitters.
Windows 2000, Windows XP and Vista do not share Windows 9x’s full direct hardware DOS support and attempting to run the game from the CD results in a DOS Box flash and then nothing. Solutions to this problem can be found from sites such as TombRaiderChronicles.com
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