Not to mention all the elements that made the game great, like puzzling and platforming spiced with just enough combat to keep tomb raiding interesting.
Lara Croft’s introduction was widely regarded as an innovation in the world of video games, with many describing the character as one of the most iconic video game characters to have ever been made. In addition, the rise in sales of the original PlayStation is widely credited to Croft’s debut on the system, and some even attributed the success of the original Tomb Raider from 1996 to her appearance in the game. And according to many, the original game is still the best Tomb Raider game ever made, as it gave rise to a gaming franchise that has aged remarkably well. Even with other successes along the way, that first one remains a standout.
Sure, there were some ups and downs in the franchise, like the massive success of Tomb Raider 2, the very successful reboot, and the horrible Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness which was actually featured in a Bravo magazine in Europe. You know that there’s something wrong with the game when it appears in a magazine aimed at teenage pop culture. And no, we’re not talking about Bravo Screenfun Magazine, which actually centers around video games and consoles. Regardless, the massive success of the Tomb Raider media franchise, which also includes film, can be credited to the first Tomb Raider game ever made.
Of course, some will argue that the graphics are terrible, and admittedly they are by today’s standards; the collision detection was horrible, and the platforming is as still as old-school Lara’s acting. And we’d agree; by today’s standards, the original Tomb Raider looks like it wouldn’t pass the alpha test phase at a vintage gaming company. But it was truly revolutionary at the time of its release, and no one can deny that the original Tomb Raider is one of the most influential video games of all time and the best Tomb Raider ever.
We can also argue that Lara’s sex appeal greatly contributed to the game’s success, and while there’s no denying that it did, it hardly did much. Sure, a good protagonist is always a key ingredient, and Lara was smart, sensual, determined, and sported a fantastic pair of big guns. Pun fully intended. The best Tomb Raider game’s Lara could keep herself safe, outsmart her opponents, and solve a bunch of puzzles along the way. She was a kick-ass heroine that the gaming world sought up to that point but never got until Core Design’s Toby Gard created his own female version of Indiana Jones, which countered stereotypical “dominatrix”-types of female characters present in contemporary games.
But you need more than just flour to make bread. While Lara’s appearance certainly did contribute to the game’s success, and by the extent of the franchise’s success, it’s hardly the only factor. Tomb Raider games are known for their platforming and puzzle-solving, all of which draws roots from the original game. The best Tomb Raider game’s initial concept had combat prominence, but as the production began, the focus shifted to platforming and puzzle-solving purposefully set in the archeological locations centered around various Incan, Greek, and Ancient Egyptian myths.
Though the game’s development period got very little attention from the press, the 1996-released demo of the game sparked the vast interest of the press and the public. After the demo’s release, there was so much publicity surrounding the game that indicated its strong success. The company even hired models to portray Lara Croft at trade events. Upon its release in 1996, critics and gamers widely praised the best Tomb Raider game for its variety and depth of controls, revolutionary graphics, intriguing environments, and occasional use of combat, which helped maintain an atmosphere of tension. In fact, it was so great that Ryan MacDonald of GameSpot called it “the closest thing to a ‘Super Mario 64‘ killer”.
The best Tomb Raider game’s success prompted Eidos to pressure Core Design into releasing a new Tomb Raider annually, between 1997 and 2000. Unfortunately, this strained the team, whose struggles culminated in the troubled development of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, which underperformed in all aspects. Eidos Interactive then transferred the franchise to Crystal Dynamics, who rebooted the series twice to critical or universal acclaim. The most recent trilogy, starting with 2013’s Tomb Raider, saw a massive success that sparked the cinematic reboot of the franchise.
In conclusion, both fans and review aggregators regard the original 1996’s Tomb Raider and the best Tomb Raider game ever made due to its influence on the action-adventure genre and its role in establishing PlayStation as the most desirable gaming system. Not to mention all the elements that made the game great, like puzzling and platforming spiced with just enough combat to keep tomb raiding interesting.