With Rise of the Tomb Raider: Blood Ties now available to play in virtual reality on the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, it’s amazing to think how far the adventure franchise has come since its inception in 1996. The latest offering from Square Enix allows players to actually get into Lara Croft’s body and see the world from her perspective as she hunts for her father’s will in Croft Manor. Of all the long-running game series out there, it’s arguably Tomb Raider which has expanded and developed the most.
The first ever edition of the Tomb Raider franchise was released for the original PlayStation in 1996 and created by developers Core Design. The adventure and puzzle-solving themes of the game have been ever-present since this debut title, and since its release, there have been more than ten other games for various different consoles and PCs. The initial three games in 1996, 1997, and 1998 sold nearly 20 million units combined and were extremely successful, but the game’s sales dipped in the noughties, with some slightly weaker titles including Tomb Raider Chronicles.
But as the games were suffering a drop in sales, the franchise had branched out into films starring Angelina Jolie. And despite receiving generally poor reviews, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life did well at the box office. In fact, revenue from the two movies combined exceeded $431 million.
Since Square Enix bought Eidos Interactive in 2010, the Tomb Raider franchise has undergone some tweaks and sprouted onto even more platforms. One major step to boosting the audience size for the franchise has been to tap into the booming iGaming and mobile gaming markets. There are two successful video slots from Microgaming, namely Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider: The Secret of the Sword, which has proven popular with gamblers and is available to play with free spins and bonuses. In addition to these, there is the Lara Croft Go mobile app, which is a highly addictive turn-based puzzle game. All of these games provide a totally different experience from the console offerings and attract diverse audiences.
The more recent Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider reboot games from Crystal Dynamics have also served to draw players back in and remind them how strong the Lara Croft saga is. Both titles received excellent reviews, with the sequel just edging its predecessor with an IGN rating of 9.3/10 to 9.1/10. These fantastic games have now paved the way for the upcoming Tomb Raider film in 2018 starring Alicia Vikander as the crypt exploring heroine. The movie, directed by Roar Uthaug, will not only be looking to smash the box office revenue generated by the 2001 and 2003 offerings, it will also be hoping to receive higher critical acclaim.
With Tomb Raider now available in VR, it seems that the franchise is set to thrive for many years to come. It has proven that it can adapt to the changing gaming trends and continue to attract audiences. Long live Lara!