Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- #15 Tomb Raider: The Prophecy
- #14 Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword
- #13 Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness
- #12 Tomb Raider: Chronicles
- #11 Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
- #10 Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
- #9 Tomb Raider III
- #8 Tomb Raider II
- #7 Tomb Raider: Anniversary
- #6 Tomb Raider
- #5 Tomb Raider: Underworld
- #4 Tomb Raider: Legend
- #3 Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- #2 Tomb Raider Reboot (2013)
- #1 Rise of the Tomb Raider
Lara Croft is one of gaming’s most iconic adventurers. The athletic archaeologist is also one of the industry’s most long-standing heroines. As the protagonist of the Tomb Raider games, she set the precedent for strong female characters to lead the narrative in the gaming industry. After over 25 years at the forefront of the Tomb Raider franchise, we’ve seen her in a variety of different high-stakes adventures, but which of the titles comes out on top? If you’re yet to go exploring with Lara then you might want to check out this list of the best Tomb Raider games. For historical research purposes, of course.
#15 Tomb Raider: The Prophecy
Platforms: Game Boy Advance
The third Tomb Raider game designed for a handheld system was Tomb Raider: The Prophecy. This was the first entry into the series that made use of a top-down, isometric style of gameplay, which offers players a very different way of navigating Lara through her customary level-based adventures. Combat in Tomb Raider: The Prophecy features Lara’s established patterns of gunplay with her signature dual pistols, as well as equipping her with Uzi pistols and mystical golden guns. As an isometric version of the classic Tomb Raider games, this entry into the series is probably best described as being alright for its time, but there are probably somewhat more engaging titles in the franchise.
#14 Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword
Platforms: Game Boy Color
The second Tomb Raider game for the Game Boy Color, Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword was a direct sequel to the first of a spin-off series for the franchise. Developed especially for the popular Nintendo handheld system, the game was released in 2001 and saw Lara pursuing members of a voodoo-practising cult across areas of New York, New Orleans and The Bahamas in order to undo a curse laid upon her after being slashed with a magical sword. The game features signature exploration and puzzle-solving across levels that include rooftops, caves, jungles and other urban areas like subways, railways and docks.
#13 Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 2, Mac OS X
Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness is the sixth game in the franchise and was the last of the games to be developed by the IP’s original team Core Design. Released in 2002, this was the first Tomb Raider game to be played on the PS2 and as such, was intended to bring improved graphics and animations to the franchise. The plot of the game effectively resurrected Lara after the uncertainty carried over from The Last Revelation and Chronicles, and finds her very much alive and now in Paris. She then finds herself wanted for a murder she didn’t commit, and players will spend the majority of the game on the run across Europe. There’s some complex treasure-hunting thrown into the storyline for good measure, but on the whole, The Angel of Darkness is one of the more divisive Tomb Raider games, with many considering it to be the least popular for its poor game structure, combat controls and numerous plot holes and inaccuracies.
#12 Tomb Raider: Chronicles
Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Dreamcast, Mac OS
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the character at the end of The Last Revelation, Lara Croft made something of a return in Tomb Raider: Chronicles. This was the fifth game in the series and the direct sequel to The Last Revelation, which had some players wondering if Core Design (the developers of the early games) had actually killed off their beloved treasure hunter for good. Fortunately, Chronicles brought Lara back to the fore in the year 2000. Picking up not long after the events of The Last Revelation, with Lara still missing and presumed dead, the gameplay in this instalment takes place through a series of recollections told by her friends during the funeral ceremony. Whether she is actually alive or not players can’t determine until the end of the game. While considered one of the weaker games in the franchise, Chronicles is still a satisfying series of adventures for players to navigate through, using the tried and tested mechanics of the previous games.
#11 Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Dreamcast, Mac OS
The fourth entry into the Tomb Raider franchise sees Lara heading off to Cambodia and Egypt after she accidentally releases the ancient Egyptian god Set from his tomb. In order to send him back to his final resting place, Lara must locate the different pieces of armour belonging to Set’s rival Horus and use them alongside an ancient amulet in order to defeat the rogue god. The game was somewhat controversial in that it seemingly attempted to put an end to Lara’s character at the end of the action. However, its gameplay was strong, with Lara being able to do new moves such as climbing up and down ropes and poles, swinging from dangling ropes and shimmying around corners. Lara’s character was also treated to a bit of a makeover, with smoother and more flexible movements.
#10 Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Stadia
A spin-off game that stands alone as a Lara Croft game in its own right, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light isn’t a specific Tomb Raider game. However, it earns a spot in the list of best Tomb Raider titles as it’s a great addition to the main catalogue and provides a solid evolution of the isometric style of gameplay first introduced in Tomb Raider: The Prophecy. As a non-linear adventure that takes place in tombs across Central America, players can explore the game’s levels and solve its puzzles as they see fit. In addition, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is the first game in the franchise to feature a multiplayer component, with cooperative gameplay possible either online or locally. There’s a focus on teamwork to solve the game’s puzzles as a result, making for a satisfying co-op Tomb Raider experience.
#9 Tomb Raider III
Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Mac OS
Tomb Raider III kicked up the complexity a notch thanks to an overhaul of the game engine that was used for Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II. With a similar theme to the first two games, players needed to help Lara on her latest globetrotting quest, this time in locating four pieces of a meteorite that had landed in different parts of the world. A lot of the action in Tomb Raider III happens during underwater levels, so swimming mechanics and vehicle use are key parts of the gameplay. With more of a focus on puzzle solving, a somewhat more open-ended style of level design and slightly less shooter-based combat, Tomb Raider III offers a somewhat more challenging experience than the first two games, but still plenty of fun.
#8 Tomb Raider II
Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Mac OS, iOS, Android
Lara heads off once again in pursuit of an ancient artefact in the follow-up to the original Tomb Raider title. This time, players had to go in search of the magical Dagger of Xian, racing against both time and the forces of a shady Italian cult who are obsessed with locating the same dagger. Given the short development window between the first two games, Tomb Raider II‘s gameplay is of a fairly similar style to that of the original game, with plenty of 3D levels built upon the same, innovative grid-based system from Tomb Raider. With plenty of platforming action, puzzle-solving and athletic modes of world traversal at hand, Tomb Raider II builds upon the experience of the first game in new and engaging settings.
#7 Tomb Raider: Anniversary
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Mac OS X
The second game in what’s considered the ‘Legend Trilogy,’ Tomb Raider: Anniversary actually acts as a prequel to Tomb Raider: Legend, despite being released after it and actually being the eighth game of the series. It’s also a remake of the very first Tomb Raider game, so it’s definitely easy for newcomers to get a bit confused. The storyline takes place during Lara Croft’s search for the Scion of Atlantis when once again she must traverse a variety of levels, fight off enemies and solve a series of challenging puzzles in the same, but highly improved style as the original. There’s plenty of updated exploration and challenging platforming to be had in Anniversary, which should serve to satisfy fans of the classic Tomb Raider from 1996.
#6 Tomb Raider
Platforms: Sega Saturn, MS-DOS, Mac OS, Pocket PC, PlayStation, iOS, Android
The first entry into the Tomb Raider franchise came in 1996 and was the first time the world of gaming was introduced to Lara Croft. A game that featured a variety of explorable levels, which were considered to be pretty innovative at that time. The game sees Lara adventuring through the ruined tombs of four different historically-themed areas. Greece, Egypt, Peru and the lost world of Atlantis are all accessible to Lara, whose hunt for an ancient artefact leads her through a number of trap-and treasure-laden tombs. The title that kicked off the gaming world’s obsession with Lara Croft and her treasure-hunting exploits deserves a healthy amount of recognition, as where would the franchise be without it?
#5 Tomb Raider: Underworld
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Mac OS X
In Tomb Raider: Underworld, Lara embarks on a journey through Norse mythology as she searches for Thor’s hammer Mjolnir with a view to entering Helheim. As the final game in the ‘Legend Trilogy,’ Underworld is suitably packed with platforming and puzzle-solving, with a more natural style of world exploration for players to enjoy. The game also benefitted from a more immersive and dynamic style of environmental effects, such as the impact of weather and permanent damage to structures and scenery after combat. There are also enhancements to Lara’s fighting style, giving her more freedom to use both combat and evasive manoeuvres, plus a new melee system for fighting off attackers. Underworld is an engaging adventure with an enjoyable storyline which will appeal to any fan of the franchise.
#4 Tomb Raider: Legend
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Xbox, Xbox 360, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS
After the poor reception and performance of The Angel of Darkness, Lara Croft’s adventures were given their first proper reboot after development was given to a new team at Crystal Dynamics. Tomb Raider: Legend is the seventh main game in the franchise and the first from its now long-standing developers at Crytal Dynamics. It follows the adventures of Lara as she goes on the hunt for Excalibur, the legendary sword of King Arthur. The action follows Lara across eight different levels across various global locations and features a modernised control scheme plus major graphical and audio improvements to the characters, environments and gameplay. This is also the one and only Tomb Raider title to be launched for the original Xbox and the Nintendo GameCube, making it something of a rarity in this list. Tomb Raider: Legend successfully breathed new life into the franchise, and is one of the best Tomb Raider games for those looking to fall back in love with the series.
#3 Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, Mac OS X
The final and most recent of the Tomb Raider games is Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This game serves as the conclusion of the ‘Survivor Trilogy’ and sees Lara journeying across Central America once more. This time, she heads to Mexico, then Peru and ultimately to the legendary city of Paititi, hot on the trail of the enemy organisation Trinity. It’s in this game that relevant social and political questions are raised about the impact of a privileged adventurer such as Lara hunting down ancient artefacts and taking them from indigenous communities. Although the story is weak in parts, it’s probably one of the best Tomb Raider games for making you think and for giving Lara Croft a slightly more 3-dimensional personality in addition to the excellent motion-captured animations of her in-game character. Exploring the jungles of Peru is thrilling at times, and there are plenty of challenging tombs to venture through in search of rewards. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the most modern of the Tomb Raider games and leaves Lara in a well-rounded position for whatever adventures may come her way next.
#2 Tomb Raider Reboot (2013)
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Stadia, Mac OS X
Tomb Raider 2013 is the first game in Crystal Dynamics’ second reboot of the series. Designed as a new beginning for Lara Croft, the game is the first in the so-called “Survivor Trilogy” and serves to redefine the character’s origin story. The story sees Lara take her first steps into the role of the hero she will eventually become after she finds herself shipwrecked upon a terrifying forgotten island and must do whatever it takes to survive. The gameplay in this edition of Tomb Raider has a stronger focus on stealth and survival and is certainly a lot grittier and more violent than any of its predecessors. However, the gameplay is really satisfying and gives Lara a set of new tools to work with as she explores the lost kingdom of Yamatai and tries to uncover its secrets. Lara can also make use of a bow and arrow in addition to her signature pistols, although she doesn’t gain access to these until a specific point in the storyline. This is a great jumping-in point for those new to Tomb Raider and sees Lara’s redefined and redesigned character evolve into someone more well-rounded and relatable.
#1 Rise of the Tomb Raider
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Stadia, Mac OS X
The sequel to the 2013 reboot and arguably one of the best Tomb Raider games made to date, Rise of the Tomb Raider follows Lara on a solo mission into Siberia while on a quest to discover the lost city of Kitezh. Exploration in this game is pretty expansive and provides players with a number of additional puzzles to solve and secrets to unlock, such as learning ancient languages to translate monoliths and interacting with the wildlife and flora in order to craft weapons and upgrade materials. Rise of the Tomb Raider charts Lara’s progression from a wounded survivor at the end of Tomb Raider 2013 to a fledgeling adventurer and formidable foe during the course of her adventures across the frozen wilds of Siberia. Stealth and survival are still core aspects of the gameplay, but the story feels richer and character progression is enjoyable. Players have more freedom and control in Rise of the Tomb Raider, meaning there’s just a lot more that players can do with Lara. It’s a deserved #1 in the list of best Tomb Raider games.