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Tomb Raider Franchise - Games to Play and Movies to Watch

Gaming Blogs | Author: Mazen (Mithrie) Turkmani Posted: Jun 23, 2024 Next Previous

Wondering what makes Tomb Raider a legendary franchise featuring the iconic archaeologist Lara Croft? This article explores the evolution of Lara Croft, from her classic games to modern movies. Learn about the key elements and memorable moments that define Tomb Raider.

Key Takeaways

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Lara Croft, the iconic character from the Tomb Raider franchise

The franchise's appeal lies not only in its gameplay but also in its rich narrative and well-developed characters. Central to this narrative is the iconic Lara Croft, an archaeologist whose character has evolved significantly over the years, both in terms of design and character development. The evolution of Lara Croft and the impact of her character on the franchise will be the main focus of this post.

Following that, we will:

Evolution of Lara Croft

Lara Croft's Evolution through the Tomb Raider franchise

Introduced to us in the 90s, Lara Croft was one of the first female protagonists in video games, breaking the mold and paving the way for more diverse representation in the gaming industry. From her early days on PlayStation 1, Lara has undergone significant changes, both in terms of her physical design and her character development.

This transformation was more than just cosmetic; it mirrored the evolving times and shifting attitudes towards female characters in video games. Furthermore, it testified to the increasing maturity of the franchise, aiming to depict Lara as more than just an action heroine, but a layered character with personal struggles and victories. This evolution has allowed the franchise to remain relevant and engaging, keeping fans hooked and attracting new ones.

Comparing Lara Croft Tomb Raider Movies

The Tomb Raider franchise has also made its mark on the big screen, with two actresses taking on the role of Lara Croft: Angelina Jolie and Alicia Vikander. The 2001 and 2003 films featuring Angelina Jolie embraced the action-adventure spirit of the games, while the 2018 reboot, featuring Alicia Vikander, portrayed a more grounded and realistic Lara, closer to the character's depiction in the recent games.

Alicia Vikander's depiction of Lara earned acclaim for her convincing action sequences and riveting performance, offering a contemporary and revitalized interpretation of the character. Despite the initial skepticism from fans used to Angelina Jolie's version, Vikander's portrayal was well-received, proving that the essence of Lara Croft can be captured in different ways. This shows the versatility of the character and the franchise's ability to innovate and adapt to changing times.

The Role of Lord Richard Croft

Lara's father, Lord Richard Croft, holds a significant position in the narrative of Tomb Raider. An aristocrat who was educated at Eton in anthropology and archaeology, he raised Lara with a sense of adventure and curiosity that would later define her character. In the original Tomb Raider biography, Lord Richard Croft sends Lara to a Swiss finishing school from where she eventually rebels and is disowned by her family, setting the stage for her future adventures.

Lord Richard Croft's character is further developed in ‘Tomb Raider Chronicles,' where he is shown visiting Lara's memorial statue along with his wife, Lady Amelia, providing a glimpse into his personal life. His character is also explored in ‘Tomb Raider Legend' and ‘Tomb Raider Underworld,' where his actions and decisions have significant implications on the story.

Iconic Tomb Raider Logo

Tomb Raider Logos

The Tomb Raider logo, a symbol instantly identifiable by fans across the globe, is indistinguishable from the franchise itself. Introduced in 1996 alongside the first game release, the original logo featured a stone effect, a nod to the ancient tombs that Lara explores. However, as the franchise evolved, so did the logo, undergoing several redesigns to reflect not only a new artistic direction but also the changing themes and tones of the Tomb Raider series.

For instance, with the launch of ‘Angel of Darkness,' the logo incorporated a brushed metal look, reflecting mid-2000s design trends, and added a ‘Star Wars'-style text fading effect. These changes show how the franchise has consistently updated its branding to stay relevant and appealing to its audience.

Crystal Dynamics' Influence on the Franchise

Since 2003, Crystal Dynamics, the developer of the franchise, has exerted a significant influence on the Tomb Raider series. In 2013, the studio rebooted the series, shifting focus to Lara Croft's origins and introducing a survival-centered gameplay style, detailed character development, and for the first time in the main series, a multiplayer mode, which some fans referred to as a “tomb raider mix” experience.

The reboot, titled ‘Tomb Raider,' received critical acclaim for its graphics, gameplay, and Lara's characterization, and went on to become the best-selling Tomb Raider title to date. The success of the reboot led to sequels ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider' in 2015, and ‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider' in 2018, further cementing Crystal Dynamics' influence on the franchise.

With a new game, known as Tomb Raider Next, in development, Crystal Dynamics continues to shape the future of this beloved franchise.

Memorable Tomb Raider Game Locations

Tomb Raider Game Locations

One of the standout features of the Tomb Raider series is the variety and visual brilliance of its game locations, which offer rich opportunities for exploration. Some of the iconic locations include:

The franchise has taken players on a virtual tour of these and many other iconic locations.

The series further expanded its geographical range in Tomb Raider 2, taking players to the beautiful and atmospheric city of Venice and the visually stunning landscapes of Tibet. And who could forget the beautiful coastal island of the South Pacific and the desolate, icy environment of Antarctica in Tomb Raider 3? These locations not only added to the game's appeal but also contributed to the immersive and adventurous experience that the franchise is known for.

Special Features in Tomb Raider Games

The unique gameplay elements, including intricate puzzle-solving, are one of the distinguishing features of the Tomb Raider series. From the intricate puzzles to the challenging combat scenarios, the series has consistently provided players with a rewarding and immersive gaming experience. Central to this experience are the game's skill trees: Survivor, Hunter, and Brawler, which players can upgrade to enhance Lara's abilities.

From enhancing Lara's proficiency with ranged weapons with Hunter skills to improving her melee combat abilities and health with Brawler skills, each skill tree allows players to tailor Lara's abilities to their playstyle. Additionally, in ‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider,' the game introduced Scavenger skills, focusing on crafting and stealth, and the Seeker skill tree, which included abilities for exploration and observation.

These distinctive features have played a part in maintaining the franchise's sustained popularity among gamers, including those who enjoy playing on their Xbox.

Noteworthy Scenes in Tomb Raider Films

Tomb Raider Actresses - Angelina Jolie and Alicia Vikander

Like the games, the Tomb Raider films, also known as movie adaptations, are renowned for their exhilarating action sequences. From the breathtaking battle against a stone guardian statue in an ancient Cambodian temple in the 2001 film to the final action sequence on a decaying bomber plane hanging over a waterfall in the 2018 film, the Tomb Raider movies have delivered plenty of memorable moments that have captivated audiences worldwide.

The underwater temple scene in ‘Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life' and the thrilling motorcycle chase through the streets of London in the 2001 film are standout moments that showcase impressive choreography and high-octane action. These scenes, along with the iconic tomb raiding sequences, define Lara Croft's character as an action heroine and make the Tomb Raider films a must-watch for fans of the franchise.

The Music of Tomb Raider

In the Tomb Raider franchise, the soundtrack holds a significant place, enriching its ambiance and emotional depth. The first Tomb Raider game, released in 1996, marked the beginning of a significant emphasis on music in the series, with Nathan McCree composing its score. Over the years, seven composers contributed to eleven games, each bringing their unique style to the franchise.

From Peter Connelly's soundtrack for Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation to Troels Folmann's BAFTA award-winning work on Tomb Raider: Legend, the music of Tomb Raider has evolved alongside the games, reflecting their changing themes and tones. The soundtracks have not only enhanced the gaming experience but also become iconic in their own right. Some notable examples include:

These soundtracks have been recognized and appreciated by fans worldwide.

Lara Croft's Outfits: Evolution and Impact

Throughout the Tomb Raider series, Lara Croft's outfits have undergone notable changes, reflecting her character growth and the evolving tone of the games, showcasing the franchise's attention to costume design. Her signature outfit, consisting of:

has become as iconic as the character herself, appearing in every game until the 2013 reboot.

However, as the franchise evolved, so did Lara's outfits. From the classic outfit featuring a teal tank top and brown shorts in the original games to the more practical and survival-focused outfits in the 2013 reboot, Lara's outfits have reflected her character's evolution and the game's narrative.

The cultural influence on her outfits in ‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider' also shows the franchise's commitment to authenticity and representation.

The Future of the Tomb Raider Franchise

The future of the Tomb Raider franchise holds as much excitement as its past. With a new game, known as Tomb Raider Next, in development, fans worldwide are eagerly anticipating the next chapter in Lara Croft's adventures. The game is being developed using Unreal Engine 5, promising cutting-edge graphics and gameplay.

Amazon Games is also providing support for the upcoming entry, indicating a potential expansion of the franchise's reach and influence. This would be the first game since 2018's ‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider,' and fans are eagerly waiting to see the direction the franchise will take. With a new game on the horizon, the future of Tomb Raider promises to be as exciting and adventurous as its past, continuing its legacy of innovation.


From its inception in the mid-90s to its latest entries, the Tomb Raider franchise continues to engage, entertain, and inspire gamers worldwide, leaving a lasting legacy. Through its compelling gameplay, rich narratives, memorable game locations, and iconic characters, the franchise has left an indelible mark on the gaming landscape.

As we look forward to the future of Tomb Raider, it's clear that the franchise's legacy of innovation, adventure, and storytelling will continue to captivate new generations of gamers. With a new game on the horizon, the future of Tomb Raider promises to be as exciting and adventurous as its past.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the actresses who have portrayed Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider films?

Angelina Jolie and Alicia Vikander have portrayed Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider films.

Who is Lord Richard Croft?

Lord Richard Croft is the father of Lara Croft and has a significant role in the Tomb Raider narrative.

What is the significance of the Tomb Raider logo?

The Tomb Raider logo is a significant aspect of the franchise's branding, evolving to represent the series' shifting themes and tones.

What is the upcoming Tomb Raider game?

The upcoming Tomb Raider game, titled Tomb Raider Next, is being developed with Unreal Engine 5. It is currently in development.

How have Lara Croft's outfits evolved over the years?

Lara Croft's outfits have transitioned from her classic tank top and shorts to more practical and survival-focused attire in recent games, reflecting a shift towards functionality and realism.


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Author Details

Photo of Mazen 'Mithrie' Turkmani

Mazen (Mithrie) Turkmani

I have been creating gaming content since August 2013, and went full-time in 2018. Since then, I have published hundreds of gaming news videos and articles. I have had a passion for gaming for more than 30 years!

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