Who wouldíve guessed that the previously unheralded Core Design could produce one of gamingís most iconic female action leads? Damn no one, but courtesy of hindsight we can now look back and behold the primordial 3D action adventure that was Tomb Raider in all its angular glory, and delve into a franchise thatís still very much alive and kicking, spanning some ten games thus far. It all started here.
So whatís all the fuss about? Typically weíve seen fragments of this genre before, from as far as back as Jordan Mechnerís exceptional Prince of Persia (1989), and donít forget the advent of the 3D platformer (Crash Bandicoot), or the actual female protagonists throughout adventure gaming (remember Alone in the Darkís (1992) Emily Hartwood?).
But Tomb Raider is obviously different. Itís no platformer, albeit itís not completely dissimilar. Itís a 3D adventure game through and through, combining the marvels of early 3D texture-mapped graphics with cool exotic locales (sporting what was then revolutionary level design) and a finely animated heroine. You send athletic British aristocrat turned treasure hunter Lara Croft jumping, running, climbing and swimming through 15 long-forgotten ancient sights. These include an Incan city hidden deep in the Peruvian mountains, a Greco-Roman labyrinth, an Egyptian ruin, and, finally, the Pyramid of Atlantis.
The thinnest thread of a story ties it all together, but youíll tend to forget the plot when youíre dangling from a ledge a few stories high; this game delivers more drama and danger than any fiction could, since youíre actually controlling the action as it unfolds in front of your character and not going about as a disembodied entity.