Tomb Raider: Survivor Trilogy, Ranked

Lara Croft

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The Tomb Raider franchise, starring adventurer aristocratic archaeologist (what a mouthful) Lara Croft is an iconic game franchise spanning almost three decades of gaming history. Marking her 28th anniversary this year, let’s look at the Definitive Survivor trilogy, ranked.

*Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion of my favourite game franchise, I love and cherish each of those games!

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Starting with Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the third and final entry of the Definitive Survivor Trilogy, Lara is in Mexico,  hot on the trail of Trinity, the big bad of the series. Her adventure takes her deep into the jungles of the Amazon, and she discovers the hidden city of Paititi. 

That’s rather ominous, don’t you think? (Source : Gamestar Magazine)

Harder puzzles than the first two games in the trilogy, I remember redoing the Challenge Tomb, and Howl of The Monkey Gods over and over again because you had to time your jumps correctly. There were new gameplay mechanics introduced in this game, for example, the camouflage where Lara could apply dirt to hide from enemies and wear different outfits to speak with different NPCs.

Covered in mud, as nature intended. (Source : Gamestar Magazine)

It’s a wonderful game, really. But the immersion breaks slightly when you question how Lara can just don a costume and gain access to forbidden places because surely those guards can hear her British accent slipping through. She’s a white woman in an ancient Peruvian civilization thought lost to the world, surely she sticks out like a sore thumb?

Despite that one flaw, SOTR is still an entertaining game, executed wonderfully. It’s a fitting ending to Lara’s journey of becoming the titular Tomb Raider.

Tomb Raider (The Original)

Next, we have Tomb Raider, the first entry in the series that kickstarts our Lara’s journey. Setting out to find the lost Japanese queendom of Yamatai with a group of friends, ship crews and a professor named Whitman, her ship, Endurance unfortunately didn’t endure the storm. Shipwrecked, Lara discovers a cult on the island, dedicated to Himiko, the queen of Yamatai.

Lara hiding from the Solarii Brotherhood cultist. (Source : Gamestar Magazine)

It was in this game that you started collecting the experience to become the ultimate survivor. Or at least, Lara did. From hunting and foraging and combat, the skill trees are divided into three. Namely, Survivor, Hunter and Brawler. It also hints at the existence of Trinity, if you collect all the GPS caches in the game. Given that Trinity features heavily in the following games, it’s a nice little foreshadowing, if you ask me.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Finally, the ultimate Tomb Raider game! Rise of the Tomb Raider explores Lara’s past as she grapples with enemies of her father who has come to threaten her very existence. The reveal that Ana, her sort-of mother substitute, was a sleeper agent for Trinity, greatly shocked her. 

Hammer and sickle? Where are we, in a Siberian gulag? (Yes, you are.) (Source : Gamestar Magazine)

Why do I like this game so much? Well, mostly for the intricate plot. You start diving deep into Lara’s psyche and her backstory. The storyline is well done as well as the tombs. The gorgeous landscape of the Siberian tundra features heavily in this game. Most importantly, all side quests and tombs can be accessed without changing to specific outfits! This is my biggest gripe with Shadow of the Tomb Raider because you have to wear specific outfits for different quests. It just takes up a lot of time because most of the time, the tombs and quests are found during free roam of the game and then you can’t even access it.

In search of Elsa the Divine Source. (Source : Gamestar Magazine)

There was news last year about the development of a new Tomb Raider game by Crystal Dynamics which will be published by Amazon. However, the most exciting has to be the news that the original first three games will be getting remastered for console and PC for 2024 release. As a longtime fan of Lara, I can’t wait. Plus, they will be released on the 14th of February, so I guess I know what I’m doing on Valentine’s Day… haha.

May one of my favourite gaming characters stay an icon forever. Cheers to Lara Croft and her adventures!

BTW, we do have other game reviews. Click here to read on Metal Slug: Awakening.

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4 thoughts on “Tomb Raider: Survivor Trilogy, Ranked

  1. Ahhhh a fellow Tomb Raider enthusiast!!! I’m so glad that you too find Rise of The Tomb Raider to be the best out of the trilogy — the plot is so much more coherent than SoTR, and the gameplay is definitely new breath of fresh air 😀

  2. You are a very persuasive writer. I can see this in your article. You have a way of writing compelling information that sparks much interest.

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