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Tomb Raider is a media franchise consisting of action-adventure games, comic books, novels, theme park rides, and movies, centring around the adventures of the female fictional British archaeologist Lara Croft. Since the release of the original Tomb Raider in 1996, the series developed into a lucrative franchise of related media, and Lara went on to become a major icon of the video game industry. The Guinness Book of World Records has recognised Lara Croft as the "Most Successful Human Videogame Heroine" in 2006. Six games in the series were developed by Core Design, and the latest three by Crystal Dynamics. The games are published by Eidos Interactive, now part of Square Enix. Future games in the series will be published under the Square Enix label. To date two movies, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, have been produced starring American actress Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft.

The Tomb Raider video games have together sold over 35 million units, making it one of the best-selling video game series of all time.

Lara Croft

The central character in Tomb Raider is the British archaeologist Lara Croft, a female adventurer in search of ancient treasures. Lara was created by one-time Core designer Toby Gard, and grew out of a number of ideas discarded in early concepts. She appears almost invariably with brown shorts, a green or blue sleeveless top, holsters on both sides of her hip for dual wielded pistols and a small brown backpack. Over the course of the series, her 3D model has undergone gradual graphical improvements, as well as enlarged (and later reduced) breast size.

Several actresses and models have taken on the role of Lara Croft in real life for publicity purposes, including the British actress Nell McAndrew, as an official model, and Rhona Mitra, in the early days of the games' success. In addition, playing Lara at game conventions is a popular type of modelling work. Alison Carroll is the current official portrayer of Lara. American actress Angelina Jolie was cast as Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider movies.

Ten years after the release of the original game, Lara is still one of the most durable and recognisable video game characters. Alternatively viewed as a feminist icon or sexual fantasy, the impact of her character on popular culture is undeniable.


[[Image:TRMapLaraLocations.png|thumb|right|500px|A map indicating places visited by Lara Croft during the video games and movies:

The original game, titled Tomb Raider, made its début on the Sega Saturn, PlayStation and PC. Despite being released on the Saturn first, it was one of the titles responsible for the PlayStation's success in the mid 1990s. The games present a world in 3D: a series of tombsmarker, and other locations, through which the player must guide Lara. On the way, she must kill dangerous creatures or other humans, while collecting objects and solving puzzles to gain access to an ultimate prize, usually a powerful artefact.

Tomb Raider, an early example of the 3D genre, uses third-person shooter mechanics. The player's camera follows her, usually over her shoulder or from behind. Until Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, the game's environments were largely orthogonal, as a result of the creators' decision to extend the 2D platform game genre to a 3D world. This is shown through Tomb Raider's gameplay, which is very reminiscent of older platform games like Prince of Persia and Flashback that had a heavy focus on timed jumping interspersed with combat.

Each game has introduced new weapons and moves; by the fourth game, Lara could back flip off ropes and turn around in mid-air to grab a ledge behind her. Tomb Raider: Legend introduced an electromagnetic grapple that Lara can attach to metal objects and can, amongst other things, be used to make rope swings and pull metal objects (and enemies) toward her. Standard moves in Lara's range of abilities include the somersault, a roll, climbing techniques, the ability to swim, a swan dive manoeuvre, and a handstand. In Tomb Raider III, a sprinting move was introduced that allowed Lara to quickly speed up while a bar in the lower corner of the screen drained her stamina. In Tomb Raider: Chronicles, Lara was able to bar-swing and somersault/roll out of crawl spaces higher than ground level.

The storyline is usually driven by the quest for a powerful artefact, with Lara in a race against a sinister shadow league who want to obtain the relic for their own purposes. These artefacts usually possess mystical powers and may be of supernatural, or even alien, origin. Often in the series, the antagonist uses the artefact or bits of it to create terrifying mystical monsters, creatures, and mutants which Lara must defeat throughout the journey.

In an interview with, Ian Livingstone, Life President of Eidos Interactive, announced that the next Tomb Raider was currently in the works. Livingstone stated "I think [it] will surprise a lot of people and reinvigorate the franchise."


Over the course of time, the Tomb Raider series canon has undergone various changes or retcons. These changes correspond to the series entering a new medium, such as comic books or film, or being taken over by a new game developer. For example, in the first Tomb Raider game manual, Lara Croft is said to have survived a plane crash in the Himalayas at the age of twenty one, and was later disowned by her parents, who are still living. However in the comics, Lara lost both her parents and her fiancé in the crash. The films make no mention of a plane crash, Lara's mother died when she was too young to remember, and her father died under different circumstances.

When development of the games was transferred from Core Design to Crystal Dynamics, some of the changes made by the films were incorporated, such as Lara's relationship with her father. Additional changes were made as well: unlike the films, Lara's memories of her mother play a key role in the Crystal Dynamics games.

No official explanation of the differences has been given, making the canon of previous entries unclear in relation to the current Crystal Dynamics games. However, Lara Croft's new back story, apart from the instruction manual, does not contradict previous games.

Score sheet showing the performance of the most important Tomb Raider music notes from the first Tomb Raider videogame main theme, all music notes are one octave higher played on a tempo of 97 bpm.


The basic instrumentation for the Tomb Raider scores is orchestral, though the games adopt different instrumentation and tone with each instalment in the series. The majority of Tomb Raider music has been created using electronic technology, such as samples and synthesizers (though the Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness soundtrack was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra).

Tomb Raider to Tomb Raider Chronicles

The symphonic sounds of the earlier games were created using Roland Corporation's Orchestral Expansion board for their JV series modules (JV-1080 Synthesizer Module & SR-JV80-02 Expansion Board [5266]).

The first 5 games of the series were using stings very often to warn the player about the danger to come. Other short tracks were used after the player discovers or reveals certain areas or objects. Most recognisable audio of which is a short vibraphone sound which is played when Lara finds a secret object. The sound has been used in the first five Tomb Raider video games, including Tomb Raider: Anniversary, though it has some insignificant sound variations. Many compositions of the early games were using the vibraphone, Nathan McCree and Peter Connelly having a predisposition for this instrument while composing for these games.

Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness

Angel of Darkness is the first game to bring underscores, previous games using stings and full scores only. The 6th game combines the style of Danny Elfman Batman scores with the classic Tomb Raider style. For the first time in the series the game, the score has been performed by a real orchestra (London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Snell) . Although the game hasn't been considered the best of the series, the music of the game was very well appreciated. For the orchestration the oboe, cor anglais, harp and flute were selected.

Tomb Raider: Legend

Legend plays a new kind of music style with underlying beats, just like the electronic dance music, that sometimes has small parts of electronic-like orchestra, but instead of recreating the atmosphere of a real orchestra, Troels uses a lot of echoes for the orchestral sounds, just like in the Metal Gear Solid videogame series .

Legend's title track starts off with the first few notes of Lara's original theme used in all of the games before this one, being played with slight ornamentation on a Middle-Eastern duduk. The lyrics of the main theme are from a Gaelic folk song named Ailein duinn by Capercaillie.

Tomb Raider: Anniversary

Folmann's work for Anniversary is different from that of Legend, as it has no underlying techno beats or electronic effects, and no underscores. Folmann uses more complex instrumentation and composition in his scoring, acquiring more woodwinds, instrument articulation, and ambience. Folmann leaves somewhat of a trademark in his Anniversary music by adding a significant amount of chimes throughout the score. Troels composed the music in the style of an electronic orchestra. Some recognisable themes from the first game, composed by Nathan McCree, such as "Time to Run," "Puzzle Theme," and "Puzzle Theme II" have been recreated.

The main theme for Anniversary can be described as a celebratory version of the original theme from Tomb Raider, as similar chord and instruments are used in the piece. The song starts off with a heavy crescendo of woodwinds and low strings playing the famous Tomb Raider melody, and then breaks off into an almost playful arc, featuring parts of the original harp composition from the Tomb Raider theme. Pizzicato strings, cascading pianos and celeste, chimes, and glass instrumentation are prominent throughout this version, implying the fresh and modern twist that Folmann and Crystal Dynamics have placed in Anniversary.

Tomb Raider: Underworld

Troels Brun Folmann composed the main theme of the game, and is the music supervisor for Underworld while O'Malley is scoring the bulk of the music. Underworld's music is purely orchestral in style.

There are pieces that do not loop, meaning they will only play one time and will be triggered on specific events. The score is made more of musical fragments, similar to the first five games of the Tomb Raider series, and there will be less constant music than in Legend.

The first seconds of the main theme are the well known four-notes of the first Tomb Raider game main theme. The end of the main theme gets louder than the beginning by adding choirs and percussion. It then drops into a solo performance of the same four-notes reminiscent of the Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness main theme.


Two feature films have been created based on the Tomb Raider universe: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001, and the 2003 sequel Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, both starring Angelina Jolie.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

A member of a rich British aristocratic family, Lara Croft is a "tomb raider" who enjoys collecting ancient artefacts from ruins of temples, cities, etc. worldwide, and doesn't mind going through death-defying dangers to get them. She is skilled in hand-to-hand combat, weapons training, and foreign languages.

The planets of the solar system are going into an astronomical conjunction (which occurs every 5,000 years), and a secret society called the Illuminati is seeking an ancient talisman called The Triangle of Light that gives its possessor the ability to control time. The Illuminati need a certain clock/key called the All-Seeing Eye to help them in their search, and they have to find it in one week or wait 5,000 years for the next planetary alignment to find it again. Lara happens to find the All-Seeing Eye hidden in a wall of her mansion. The Illuminati steal it, and Lara gets an old letter from Lord Richard Croft, her deceased father, telling her about the society's agenda (her father was a defected member, who hid the key). Now, she must retrieve the key and find and destroy the talisman before the Illuminati can get their hands on it.

Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

Lara Croft returns in the sequel to the original video game based film. This time, she is trying to find Pandora's Box which supposedly contains one of the deadliest plagues on Earth, before evil scientist Jonathan Reiss can get his hands on it. The key to finding the Box, which is hidden in the mysterious Cradle of Life, is an orb that is supposed to be some type of a map. When Croft goes to get the orb, it is stolen by Reiss's henchman and so she recruits an old friend, Terry Sheridan, a former mercenary who spent his last couple of years in prison in Siberia, to come to help. Lara and Terry embark together on an adventure that spans continents in an attempt to regain the orb.

Potential third movie

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. has confirmed a third movie is in the works with Dan Lin as producer. Time Warner acquired film rights upon increasing its stake in Eidos in December 2008. The film is still in early stages with no writer or director yet, but the report indicates it will be a reboot that will re-imagine Lara Croft's "origins ... love interest and the main villain". The report also indicates Angelina Jolie may not be returning to the role of Lara Croft, and that a new actress might be cast after a writer and director are attached to the project. A "younger" Lara.

Comic books

Tomb Raider has been licensed to Top Cow Productions, which has published a large number of Tomb Raider stories in comic book form since 1999. The series ended in 2004 with the release of its final and fiftieth comic book.

Original novels

Ballantine Books, in conjunction with Eidos, began publishing a series of original novels in the spring of 2004, beginning with The Amulet of Power by Mike Resnick, which was followed by The Lost Cult by E. E. Knight in August 2004 and then The Man of Bronze by James Alan Gardner in January 2005. They generally followed the continuity of the video games (particularly Angel of Darkness) rather than the movies, although Lost Cult contained references to Cradle of Life. Man of Bronze differs from the first two books in that it is told in first-person narrative from Lara Croft's point of view.

Ballantine's contract only called for three novels, and it is not yet known if the book series will continue.

Theme park rides

The film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and subsequent sequel, having been distributed and licensed by Paramount Pictures, were eligible for inclusion in the six Paramount Parks, theme parks owned and operated by Paramount (and later, CBS Corporation. As such, three Tomb Raider rides were opened at various Paramount Parks: Tomb Raider: The Ride (both a HUSS Giant Top Spin at Kings Islandmarker and a flying roller coaster at Canada's Wonderlandmarker) and Tomb Raider: FireFall (a suspended HUSS Top Spin at Kings Dominionmarker). The Paramount Park's sale to Cedar Fair, L.P. was accompanied by a loss of rights to the Tomb Raider name, and subsequently, Kings Island's "Tomb Raider: The Ride" and Kings Dominion's "Tomb Raider: FireFall" were renamed "The Crypt", while Canada's Wonderland's "Tomb Raider: The Ride" was renamed "Time Warp."

With its investments and licensing pulled from the former Paramount Parks, the Tomb Raider ride franchise was started anew with Tomb Raider: The Machine at Movieland Studios, Italy. The ride, manufactured by Zamperla, looks very much like the HUSS Top Spin ride, but is more advanced ride called a Windshear.

The original (and only indoor, themed) Tomb Raider: The Ride at Kings Island was celebrated for the way it turned what is generally a typical "boring" thrill ride like a Top Spin (something found at most carnivals) into a highly interactive, themed dark ride complete with lava pits, volcanoes, icicles, and a giant goddess carving on the wall with laser eyes. The ride was synchronized to a specially-made Tomb Raider soundtrack and featured the real, six armed "Durga" goddess and water vase from the first movie, as well as the monkey warrior statues that come to life in the film.


GameTap aired a ten part animated short series called Re\Visioned: Tomb Raider Animated Series from 10 July 2007 to 13 November 2007. The series is comprised of various artistic talent's renditions of Lara Croft. Minnie Driver provides the voice for Lara Croft.


  1. Livingstone takes life president role at Eidos
  2. Interview with Ian Livingstone by
  3. Tomb Raider game manual ( download)
  4. Tomb Raider: Legend game manual ( download)
  5. Tomb Raider: Anniversary game manual ( download)
  6. Podcast 3 - Interview with TR:U composer Troels Folmann

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