The 4 Best Tomb Raider Releases in the Last Decade


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Since 1996, Tomb Raider has become a pop culture icon and is heralded as one of the most successful video game franchises in the UK.

Although the 1996-2003 era was the most prolific for the series, the last decade has seen some impressive new versions and remakes to restore Lara Croft as the pinnacle female video game protagonist, having inspired others to develop new heroines in computer games.

This year saw another iteration in the Tomb Raider series hit our shelves and, as we prepare to enter 2023, it's time for a little nostalgia to celebrate the best quartet of Tomb Raider releases since 2013.

Tomb Raider (2013)
There was a three-year wait between 2010's rock-solid Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light title. Crystal Dynamics teamed up with Square Enix in 2013 to launch a reboot of the entire series. It kick-starts the new "Survivor" trilogy, where Lara Croft seeks to explore her own past and heritage.
This iteration had been five years in the making, with Crystal Dynamics beginning their development run in 2008. Despite a delayed release from winter 2012 to spring 2013, it was clear that this would be well worth the wait; especially with other pixelated archaeologist-themed games not quite hitting the mark during this period.

Once again, critics within the gaming industry were hugely impressed with the characterisation of Croft, bringing added depth to the franchise. The biggest compliment anyone could pay is that this release doesn't remotely feel like a rehash of the original.

Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015)
Rise of the Tomb Raider was the eleventh iteration of the franchise. Designed as the 'sequel' to the 2013-released Tomb Raider, this was the second issue of the so-called "Survivor" trilogy. The third-person action-adventure hit sees Croft embark on the historic city of Kitezh in search of answers to her run-in with supernatural beings in the previous game.
The Rise of the Tomb Raider secured huge critical acclaim, virtually across the board. It helped breathe new life into the franchise, inspiring Square Enix to go further and expand the franchise into other forms of gaming. Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs is an officially licensed online slot game from Square Enix that has enduring appeal. It's still described as a "blockbuster title" by iGaming operator Betway, with a continued fan base of players online.

This description is high praise indeed from a site that has a library of more than 400 casino games to select from. Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs is fully optimised for this operator's native mobile apps too, allowing users to engage on iOS and Android devices too.

Lara Croft Go (2015)
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Lara Croft Go was by no means the first casual mobile game released based on the Tomb Raider franchise, but it's certainly the best. Developed by Square Enix Montreal - now known as Studio Onoma - this turn-based puzzle game acted as a brilliant entry into the franchise for Gen Z mobile gamers.
In general, its fidelity to the franchise is something to be applauded. It picked up the 2016 Apple Design Award, which acknowledges the best casual games published on iOS each year. It also scooped the top mobile game at The Game Awards in 2015.
If there is one critique of Lara Croft Go it's that the game is a little brief for our liking. With just five chapters and 40 levels, even the casual gamer should be able to complete this title with relative ease and speed.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018)
Following the success of Rise of the Tomb Raider in 2015, Tomb Raider fans were forced to wait patiently for another three barren years before the launch of Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The third and final iteration of the "Survivor" trilogy, this game is set 12 months after Rise of the Tomb Raider, with Croft heading to the Americas to lock horns with paramilitary group, Trinity.

Globally, this iteration sold more than 8.9 million units. It's true that this release has also gone down in history as one of the most expensive video games ever built. Reports suggest that the game cost upwards of $135m to develop and launch.
Following a three-year development phase, this remains the last 'main' release of the Tomb Raider franchise. However, Crystal Dynamics has said it plans to tease more details about the next release in 2023.

1 Comment

I don't like the modern Tomb Raider games. They've recast Lara Croft as some timid, fragile thing with about as much fortitude as a dishrag. I miss the Lara who could wield her intellect as devastatingly as she did her famous twin Heckler & Koch pistols. That Lara was clever, and always had a cool quip for any situation. She was a strong woman, and a monument for feminism—the modern Lara, not so much.

I did like the lovely section in Shadow Of The Tomb Raider involving Dia de Los Muertos, but the modern games just don't thrill like the older ones. The sweet spot for me was the Anniversary/Legend/Underworld trilogy, when they finally got the controls tight and the game plot became really encompassing and engrossing.

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