With a full remaster of the original trilogy on the horizon, it’s never been a better time to be a fan of the Tomb Raider series, and longtime fans are more than excited to jump back into another thrilling adventure as Lara Croft once again. While Lara is obviously the start of the show in the Tomb Raider games, she’s also become an iconic hero within the video game industry at large, often being heralded as one of the most influential protagonists of her time who has remained immensely popular ever since she first appeared in 1996.
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The Tomb Raider series is known for many things, one of which is the difficulty of the games. They range from reasonable to brutally challenging.
With that being said though, there have been plenty of different iterations of the character throughout the years presented through both games and movies which tinker around with certain aspects of her character, usually for the better, but sometimes for the worse. In preparation for the anticipated release of the Tomb Raider Remastered Trilogy, here’s a deep dive into each iteration of Lara, and what makes them so forgettable or beloved to fans of the series.
7 Tomb Raider: The Prophecy
Though Lara Doesn’t Get Much Screentime In This Game, She Still Has A Few Cheeky Quips And One-Liners
Tomb Raider: The Prophecy was a spin-off game that was released by Ubisoft Milan while Core Design was still busy working on the original series. Because the game is on the shorter side, clocking in at roughly 3 to 4 hours in length, it means that there’s not much time for any character development for Lara throughout her adventure, and the lack of voice acting also makes this iteration a little forgettable, though she does still let out a few one-liners here and there which call-back to her personality in the original games.
Despite this though, Lara seems pretty much unfazed for much of the story, despite the fact that she’s literally taking on magical wizards and undead skeletons in most combat encounters, which can be a little jarring. Thankfully, her iconic classic design has been carried over to this game, along with her dual pistols, but Lara’s personality is pretty surface-level in this spin-off GBA title.
6 Tomb Raider (2018)
The Lara Seen In The 2018 Movie Felt Just A Bit Too Bland For A Lot Of Fans
After the huge commercial and critical success of the 2013 reboot, a Tomb Raider movie was immediately put forward and eventually released in 2018 to somewhat of a mixed reception. While the movie certainly looked amazing and had some incredibly fun tomb segments, Alicia Vikander’s portrayal of Lara felt just a little bit too subdued and flat to make her stand out. This isn’t anything against the actress herself, more so that Lara the character really isn’t given a whole lot to do in the movie, often feeling like an outsider looking in.
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A major reason for this is because Lara’s father plays a massive role in the movie, being the one who actually learns about Yamatai rather than Lara finding out through her own research. There’s also a severe lack of action scenes in the movie which would’ve been good to highlight the more confident and strategic side of Lara, and it ultimately feels as though if the film took itself just a little less seriously, Lara could have been a lot more fun and engaging to watch as a result.
5 Lara Croft Series
Lara Puts Her Bravery And Charisma On Full Display In The Spin-Off Games
After their reboot of the series, Crystal Dynamics decided to create a small spin-off series that ditched the Tomb Raider name and consisted of two games, these being Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, and Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. Both titles are arcade-inspired co-op games that actually have pretty engaging stories that center around Lara’s attempts to stop ancient Mayan and Egyptian mythological gods from enslaving all of humanity.
Because these games were situated between the original trilogy and the survivor reboot, it means that Lara is essentially a combination of the two, retaining most of her classic characteristics while also being a little more serious and caring for others around her. Keeley Hawes does an amazing job at showcasing Lara’s wit and intelligence through her voice alone, and the way Lara is able to act so brave and willing in some incredibly tough situations perfectly suits the character. Lara’s usual enthusiasm for archeology is unfortunately very absent in these games, but she’s still presented as being a true badass who can more than hold her own.
4 Tomb Raider (2001)
Angelina Jolie’s Iteration Of The Character Was Tough While Still Showing A Lot Of Emotion
The smash-hit 2001 Tomb Raider movie featuring Angelina Jolie in the starring role did an amazing job at presenting Lara as a fun and charismatic, but also very in-depth character who’s much more than a simple archaeologist looking for her latest find. While there are plenty of enthralling action scenes to admire, one of the most popular being Lara’s bout with the dummy robots inside a tomb, there are also a few more emotional scenes thrown in that center on Lara’s loneliness after losing her father.
This reaches a boiling point when she’s eventually given the chance to resurrect her father through the power of a mysterious contraption known only as the Triangle, leading to a heartbreaking scene where she must decide whether to use it for her own gain or to destroy it for good. The sequel movie, The Cradle of Life, unfortunately, doesn’t quite keep up this momentum with Lara being a little less interesting and fleshed out, but she’s still just as charismatic as ever and looks like a true badass during her action scenes thanks to Jolie’s practical stunts.
3 Survivor Trilogy
Lara’s Personal Journey From Explorer To Survivor Is A Dark, Gritty, And Captivating Version Of Her Character
The Survivor Trilogy chronicles Lara’s personal journey from a humble explorer to a hardened warrior, and while this character development doesn’t always hit its mark, for the most part, these games tell an incredibly compelling story of how the events around Lara mold her into a new person. During the events of the first game, Lara goes through multiple hardships after being stranded on the island of Yamatai, being forced to kill, hunt, and steal in order to survive, which forces her to become cold and ruthless.
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Lara Croft is one of the video game industry’s toughest icons, but even she is far from perfect.
Her obsession with completing her father’s unfinished work in Rise of the Tomb Raider expanded upon her as a character even more, and while she didn’t quite get as much development in the third game, the Survivor trilogy still told an amazing story that made Lara very grounded and believable as a protagonist.
2 Original Series
Cool, Calculated, And Witty, Lara Became A Gaming Icon As Soon As She First Appeared In 1996
Without a doubt, the most recognizable iteration of Lara is the version seen in the original series, spanning from the first game all the way up to The Angel of Darkness in 2003. Brave, witty, and endlessly charismatic, this version of Lara immediately became a gaming icon when she first appeared on screens, breaking down many barriers within the industry and becoming a very influential protagonist. Lara’s abandonment of her royal lifestyle to pursue her love for history and archeology not only shows how much she adores exploration but also that she’s quite a rebellious character who doesn’t always play by the rules.
The original version of Lara is also just a ton of fun to be around in general thanks to her bubbly attitude and constant one-liners which almost rival the likes of Leon S. Kennedy. While she doesn’t show too much emotion or vulnerability throughout the original series, she still captivated audiences thanks to her infectious care-free personality and action-hero persona, and it’ll be a joy to see her make a return in the original trilogy remaster.
1 Legend Trilogy
Excellently Showcases All The Best Parts Of Lara’s Character, Including Her Passion For Archeology
After the commercial failure of Angel of Darkness, production of the next Tomb Raider game was handed over to Crystal Dynamics, who aimed to completely revitalize the series, not only in terms of gameplay but also Lara as a character. What resulted was shades of the cool, confident, and calculated Lara of old, mixed in with a slightly more vulnerable side that led to what many consider to be the most fun and interesting iteration of the character to date.
Throughout this trilogy of games, there are also some fascinating scenes where Lara gets to talk more about why she has such an undying passion for history, such as when she’s speaking to Anaya about the importance of understanding the past, and how it can help us learn more about ourselves. Witnessing people being lost around her, such as Amanda who is buried under a sea of rubble, also highlights a slightly more somber side to Lara which goes a long way in making her more realistic as a person. Crystal Dynamics managed to revitalize interest in Lara as a character thanks to their amazing iteration seen throughout the first reboot trilogy series.
Every Tomb Raider Game, Ranked By How Long They Take To Beat
Which of Lara Croft’s adventures has been the longest? Today, we’re ranking every mainline Tomb Raider game by length to find out.