What are the best Tomb Raider games?
Since 1996, the Tomb Raider series has been entertaining fans as one of the most successful gaming franchises in history.
While not every installment in the series has been a hit with fans, some have been hailed as some of the greatest games of all time.
Today, we’re looking at Tomb Raider’s greatest and most popular titles and counting them down to the best of the best.
The 10 Best Tomb Raider Games
To create this list, we looked at the content of each Tomb Raider game, as well as its popularity and total sales.
This has allowed us to find which games in the series have truly stood out from the rest as the most successful.
So, get ready to delve into one of the greatest game franchises of all time with our list of the 10 best Tomb Raider games:
10. Tomb Raider 3: Adventures of Lara Croft (1998)
Kicking off our list is a 1998 classic action-adventure game that marks the third appearance of Lara Croft.
The story revolves around Lara as she tries to hunt down pieces of a meteorite that have been scattered around the world.
In order to progress through the game, players will have to venture to many dangerous locations, defeat numerous enemies, and solve tricky puzzles.
It builds upon the foundation of its predecessor, boasting better graphics, increased speed, and an even more intricate storyline.
Upon release, Tomb Raider 3 quickly became a commercial success, selling 6 million copies around the world.
While it was criticized a bit for its unforgiving gameplay, some fans welcomed the challenge that defined this game.
9. Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (1999)
The fourth installment in the Tomb Raider series, The Last Revelation, was first released on the PlayStation before coming to the Dreamcast a year later.
The Last Revelation quickly became one of the best Dreamcast games of all time, selling over 5 million copies worldwide.
In this game, players take control of Lara Croft as she rushes to re-imprison the Egyptian god Set after accidentally freeing him from his confinement.
Gameplay revolves around puzzle solving, with many levels split between multiple rooms filled with enemies.
While this game undoubtedly sported better graphics and a better enemy AI, some fans felt that it didn’t have many innovations.
On the flip side, others praised The Last Revelation as a return to form for the series, bringing back much of what had made it great in the beginning.
Whichever side of the argument you fall on, you have to admit that this game is extremely fun to play, even if it doesn’t take a lot of risks.
8. Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007)
Tomb Raider: Anniversary is the eighth game in the series and the second in the Legend trilogy.
Anniversary is a remake of the very first Tomb Raider game, and it follows the story of Lara Croft’s search for the Scion of Atlantis.
While a majority of the gameplay is par for the course of the series, the Wii version included console-exclusive motion controls.
These controls were well-received by some but derided by others as being clunky and repetitive.
Although little was changed from the original, aside from a few gameplay elements, the graphics, and controls, Anniversary wasn’t the biggest hit of the franchise.
Only selling around 1.3 million copies, compared to the original’s 7 million, it was popular but not an unprecedented success.
That said, as a remake, it is a great starting point for players who didn’t get the chance to play the original, which debuted in 1996.
It is definitely worth playing if you’re a fan of the series, and it is an overall solid game that delivers where it counts.
7. Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)
The ninth installment in the franchise and the last in the Legend trilogy, Tomb Raider: Underworld, was very well-received by fans and critics.
Underworld takes players on a search for Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, an artifact that Lara Croft can use to enter Helheim, the land of the dead.
This story takes Lara across the world, from the Mediterranean to Thailand and over to Mexico and the Arctic Sea.
Aside from its engaging story, Underworld was the first Tomb Raider game to use motion capture and a new game engine was created for it.
While this game was available for the PS3 and Wii, it also received DLC, which was exclusive to the Xbox 360.
Although the decision to make this DLC exclusive to a particular console was upsetting for players without the Xbox version, the content itself was praised.
We would definitely consider this one of the best Xbox 360 games due to this extra content that was never released anywhere else.
While there is a new Tomb Raider game, we kind of wish Crystal Dynamics would make an HD remaster of Underworld because it’s just that good.
6. Tomb Raider 2 (1997)
Tomb Raider 2 debuted in 1997 as one of the best PS1 games ever created, and it quickly sold roughly 7 million copies worldwide.
This game takes Lara Croft on an adventure to find the Dagger of Xian, which is also being pursued by a dangerous Italian Cult.
As Lara, players have to navigate through numerous levels and puzzles in a race to grab the mystical dagger before it can fall into the wrong hands.
Much of the gameplay here is carried over from the original Tomb Raider; there are many more enemies, including armed humans, animals, and supernatural entities.
This helped provide a bigger emphasis on combat, which is something the first game was criticized for lacking.
Other new features added include the ability for Lara Croft to climb obstacles and wade through water.
The environments were also much more detailed, with a greater variety between them to prevent areas from feeling repetitive.
Upon release, Tomb Raider 2 was highly praised for the changes it made, especially considering it was developed in just eight months!
5. Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)
Tomb Raider: Legend is the seventh main entry in the series and a reboot that redesigned the origins of Lara Croft.
It also kickstarted the Legend trilogy, which includes Anniversary and Underworld, which we’ve covered above.
Legend follows Lara Croft as she searches for the sword Excaliber in a race to find it before her former friend, Amanda Evert.
Gameplay is centered around linear levels, puzzle solving, and gun fights with enemies, though the GBA and DS versions have been slightly tweaked to work for the platforms.
The goal of this game was to bring the series back from the brink following the abysmal failure that was Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness.
Taking into consideration what fans hated about that game, Legend was completely redesigned with a brand-new movement and control system.
Since Angel of Darkness has an emphasis on urban areas, Legend takes fans back to ancient ruins and old tombs that, you know, actually made sense for the franchise.
While urban areas do still make an appearance, they are not the main emphasis and serve only to break things up.
Similarly, Lara’s past backstory was reworked to include elements of her original story with a new background.
This reboot proved to be highly successful, selling 6.4 million copies and becoming the fifth best-selling game in the series.
4. Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018)
Aside from the arcade-style Tomb Raider Reloaded, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the most recent game in the franchise.
This game picks up where Rise of the Tomb Raider left off and finishes the Survivor trilogy, and it’s considered Lara Croft’s best adventure to date.
Set a year after the events of the previous game; here, players start off with Lara Croft venturing into the tropical forests of the Americas.
The goal is to locate the city of Paititi while battling the paramilitary organization Trinity and trying to stop the Mayan apocalypse.
Basically, all in a day’s work for the intrepid archeologist, and for players, the action really never stops.
Gameplay revolves around traversing a multitude of environments that serve as semi-open world areas.
Throughout these areas, there are challenge tombs that players can raid in order to unlock various rewards.
While some critics thought this entry lacked innovation and that the series had begun to stagnate, Shadow of the Tomb Raider still did exceptionally well.
Shipping over 8.9 million copies across the world, the developers certainly did something right that spurred fans to play.
It may not be one of the best video games of all time, but it certainly is one of the best Tomb Raider games ever made!
3. Tomb Raider (1996)
Of course, we have to mention the original Tomb Raider title, the one that started it all and helped get the franchise off the ground.
Developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive, Tomb Raider was first released on the Sega Saturn and later on the PlayStation.
In this first installment, players follow Lara Croft, who is hired to find a unique artifact called the Scion of Atlantis.
Lara, one of the best female video game characters, was heavily influenced by both Indiana Jones and Tank Girl, a mix that worked extremely well.
As for the gameplay, levels are split into multiple areas that are filled with both enemies and puzzles.
Players have to make their way through these areas in order to progress, and while it was a bit repetitive, at the time, this was hardly an issue.
When the original Tomb Raider was released, it was praised for its innovation in graphics, controls, and gameplay.
It went on to top numerous charts and is credited with contributing to the success of the first PlayStation console.
Along with selling 7 million copies, Tomb Raider was also named Game of the Year by many publications and has since been added to the World Video Game Hall of Fame!
2. Tomb Raider (2013)
Up next, we have the tenth main game in the franchise and another reboot of the franchise, one that kicked off the Survivor trilogy.
Tomb Raider is set on the island of Yamatai, and it introduces players to a version of Lara Croft who isn’t as experienced as she is in previous games.
On this island, Lara must work to save her friends while trying to escape from the cult hunting her down.
Gameplay borrows many elements from the Uncharted series, such as giving players the ability to free-aim as Lara and perform stealth kills.
This game also comes with online multiplayer, where different players can compete against each other across various maps.
While both the solo campaign and multiplayer options were highly praised, critics and fans were quick to point out the ludonarrative dissonance between the gameplay and story.
For example, the story attempts to paint Lara as uncomfortable with killing, while the gameplay immediately encourages players to kill enemies in violent ways.
Although this is kind of hilarious, it is still a bit of an oversight that critics were quick to hone in on.
That said, this reboot is still one of the best Tomb Raider games, selling over a million copies in less than 48 hours and, as of 2021, 14.5 million copies overall.
1. Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015)
Taking our number one spot is one of the best-selling PS4 games of all time, Rise of the Tomb Raider!
This game follows Lara Croft as she heads to Siberia in search of the legendary city of Kitezh while Trinity is hot on her trail.
As Lara, players have to race to find the city before Trinity, who intends to use it to uncover the secret of immortality.
Player feedback was highly considered during the development of Rise of the Tomb Raider, and as such, some notable changes were made.
For instance, the number of quick time events was decreased, while more puzzles and challenge tombs were added.
The only thing that really stirred up controversy around this game was the fact it was a timed exclusive for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Aside from that, Rise of the Tomb Raider was met with a lot of praise from fans and critics, particularly in terms of graphics and gameplay.
Despite releasing on the same day as the highly anticipated Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider quickly sold over a million copies by the end of the year.
As of 2021, it has sold roughly 11.8 million copies, making it one of the most successful installments in the series.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the 10 best Tomb Raider games and learned a bit about this popular series as well!
Although there are many great titles in the Tomb Raider franchise (not Angel of Darkness), these are by far the best ever made.
Whether you’re new to the series or have been playing since launch, there is something for everyone to enjoy in each of these games!
Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best Tomb Raider games:
- Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015)
- Tomb Raider (2013)
- Tomb Raider (1996)
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018)
- Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)
- Tomb Raider 2 (1997)
- Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)
- Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007)
- Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (1999)
- Tomb Raider 3: Adventures of Lara Croft (1998)
Which Resident Evil game will you play first? Leave a comment below.
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