The History of Tomb Raider
Way back in 1994, PC's didn't use to be as popular as they are now and therefore, there wasn't much variety in the virtual heroes: only heavy, male dudes, whose job was to kill whatever they found.
Toby Gard from Core Design wanted to make a female version of Indiana Jones. He wanted the hero to be quick and elegant, so he decided to create a female one. It seemed to be a crazy idea, but his colleagues finally agreed to make such a game because it would be a new angle. At first, the heroine's name was Laura, but it was scrapped because it would sound too British for the American market. The surnames Cruise and Bond were scrapped too, probably because they lacked originality. The way Lara Croft should look was different then: she was first designed to look like a muscular woman or a nazi-like one wearing a baseball cap but these ideas were fortunately thrown away. The designers made her blonde at first, but then they decided to make her hair brunette and add a ponytail. However, in the first Tomb Raider, no ponytail existed because it was difficult for them to make it move as realistically as they wanted. The FMV's however showed Lara with her ponytail. Tomb Raider 1
was finally released in 1996 and it was really a blast. It was voted as the best game of the year. It combined adventure and action, not only killing. In 1997, came Tomb Raider 2
, which was even nicer with an in-game ponytail and improved graphics, textures and lighting effects. In 1998, Tomb Raider 3
was released, with some small, yet not insignificant improvements and in 1999 Tomb Raider 4
, which was very different form the first three Tomb Raider games and nearly excellent. The ending was shocking though: in front of our eyes, Lara got trapped inside the Temple of Horus, which soon after collapsed. "Is Lara still alive?" That's what the angry fans wondered. Tomb Raider 5
, released in 2000, was a little bit disappointing compared to the other series. Tomb Raider 5 was rushed out, small and full of bugs. Some people called it "Tomb Raider 4 Gold".
The Core Design employees set out to make a great game called "Angel of Darkness", released in summer 2003. It appears to me though that Core Design did nothing but blew their last chance to bring Lara back to the top by releasing "Tomb Raider 6: Angel of Darkness" way after the deadline, yet full of bugs and obviously unpolished. Although Tomb Raider 6 sold very well, the reviews it received were very disappointing. The result of all this mess was that EIDOS handed the task of creating Tomb Raider 7
to a relatively new company, Crystal Dynamics and fired Core Design. The Tomb Raider Headquarters have now moved from Europe to America, where the employees are supposed to be working hard on Tomb Raider 7, which, according to them, will bring Tomb Raider back to its roots. However, I am somehow not entirely convinced that this is going to happen. I guess we'll have to wait and see and yeah, not listen to the hype. The release of Tomb Raider 7 is scheduled
for summer 2005, but this is not a fixed date and therefore we should not rely on it very much.
Lara has definitely evolved a lot during the series. When she first appeared on a computer screen, she had no ponytail and it was clearly visible that she was made of pixels. Her body didn't look too good with the blocky square-shaped breasts and butt. There was a lot room for imporvement for her face too. But then, in the 1996's, no game had better graphics than Tomb Raider.
In Tomb Raider 2, Lara became less blocky and more detailed. She also got a ponytail which would sway romantically in the wind as she walked. In Tomb Raider 3 she was only slightly improved. But in Tomb Raider 4, she got a real facelift. Her body was almost flawless and her face was prettier and more realistic. In Tomb Raider 5 though, there were no improvements.
Tomb Raider 6 was great when it came to graphics. Lara went from 500 to 5000 polygons, something that almost eliminated blocky points. Her face looked as pretty as always and maybe even more. Sadly, there are games out there that have better graphics than Angel of Darkness with faster engines and more detailed characters.