I have my personal list of best Tomb Raider games of all time on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, do you have one? The fact that Tomb Raider is one of the biggest gaming franchises today is not open to any discussion. The series started more than 20 years ago, in 1996, and inspired many other games, the most notable one being the legendary Uncharted franchise.
For its time, the first TR was a revolutionary experience; being able to solve puzzles with many different moves, various traversal elements such as climbing walls and shimmying across ledges, a female protagonist and cleverly designed action was unseen in the late 90s. The series’ main character, Lara Croft is still being treated as a celebrity today and the series even had movie adaptations. Even though none of them were good movies, they weren’t as bad as other game-to-movie adaptations.
Just like every game or movie franchise, Tomb Raider had its ups and downs. What started a great game series was brought down by Eidos’ greed, forcing and pushing the developers for a new TR game every year from 96 until 2003. The Angel of Darkness was the series’ lowest point but after that, the series was reborn with Legend. After a succession of good games, the franchise was reborn once again in 2013 with the series’ going back to Lara’s origin and that startup gave us a brand new, next-gen and high-quality trilogy.
We have prepared a list of games like Tomb Raider, you must check out.
List of Tomb Raider Games Ranked
Today, we will discover the whole history of the franchise and discuss each game as we go along. Here is Tomb Raider Games in order, All 17 Ranked, From Worst to Best.
Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness
Inarguably, the worst Tomb Raider game of all time is Angel of Darkness. After the switch to PS2, Core Design had the opportunity to reform the franchise but doing that after releasing a Tomb Raider game every year since 1996, which totals a number of 7 games, is really hard and they were understandably burnt out. The story was fine, but the gameplay was stale and the game was filled with bugs and glitches and in 2003, you couldn’t patch a game. A beautiful series at its worst.
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
Tomb Raider: The Prophecy
A very unfortunate TR game is The Prophecy, which was a game limited mostly by its platform, Game Boy Advance. Developer Core Design tried to force the game into 3D by implementing an isometric camera angle, but it was still 2D and the visuals suffered greatly. The puzzles parts were unexceptionally simple and the action sequences were boring, plus, the lack of Lara Croft’s character really didn’t help the game’s lack of immersion. Among the handheld TR games, it is still good but it is not very high on the general list.
Platforms: Game Boy Advance
Tomb Raider: Chronicles
After developing 4 TR games in a row every year, Core Design never had the chance to create a new game engine for the series and thus, the series started to show its age on the Chronicles. It recycled a lot of the same puzzles, gameplay elements, environments and most notably, the same graphics engine. It isn’t a bad game by any means, but the fans were rightly bored with the reused elements and it didn’t sell as much as the first 4 games.
Platforms: PlayStation, Microsoft Windows, Dreamcast, Mac OS
Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword
Coming out 1 year after the original Tomb Raider’s remake on the Game Boy Color, Curse of the Sword did not bring anything original and new to the table. It was more or less the same game with a new story and locations but it was still a good game thanks to the prior year’s GBC TR game, and it was still a joy to play your favorite franchise on the get-go.
Platforms: Game Boy Color, Game Boy
Tomb Raider (Game Boy Color)
The first and arguably the best handheld Tomb Raider game was developed by Core Design -again- and was launched on Game Boy Color in 2000 and it was a success, mostly. It was a great attempt at porting a game about big environments and puzzles into a portable, 2D world. The character animations were surprisingly fluid and they even managed to implement boob physics into the game. The game would scroll instead of a static level screen -like NES Prince of Persia games of its time- and the gameplay and the puzzles were surprisingly good.
Platforms: Game Boy Color
Lara Croft GO
Square Enix’ pleasant surprise Hitman GO was a hit and the company decided to implement the same formula to Tomb Raider and we can safely say that it was a success. The turn-based puzzle gameplay was an even better fit for Lara Croft, with complex and entertaining puzzles, traps and enemies looming around every mission. You can also find collectibles and unlock new outfits. It was a very short game, though, but this is expected from a mobile game.
Platforms: Android, PlayStation 4, iOS, Microsoft Windows, PS Vita, Windows Phone, Mac OS, Linux
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
After the original trilogy, the series started to go downhill with The Last Revelation, especially with the recycled gameplay elements. This game still had some innovations, though. The visual improvements were made, especially on the Lara Croft’s character model and the level had multiple routes this time. Also, for the first time you could shimmy around corners. A good game all around, but nothing exceptional.
Platforms: PlayStation, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
Tomb Raider III
The last entry of the original trilogy, Tomb Raider III was an all-around great game. Its levels were more open compared to the previous titles and it was still on par with its competitors on the technical side of stuff. It was also more focused on the puzzles which are considered as the series’ main selling point. The problem was the underwater levels. The controls of the game didn’t go well with the underwater levels and they dragged a bit too long for the game’s own good. It was still a blast to play, however.
Platforms: PlayStation, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
Tomb Raider: Underworld
When the legendary action series Uncharted launched with its first game in 2007, Eidos knew that they had to do something. Underworld built upon Crystal Dynamics’ first two TR games and built a new engine for the new consoles. It implemented new features gameplay-wise, such as the dual-target feature, an upgraded inventory system and a multi-purpose grappling hook with which you can even pull enemies. Even though it wasn’t as good as Uncharted in any way, it was still a good new-gen Tomb Raider game.
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Wii, Nintendo DS
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
2 years after the successful Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Temple of Osiris decided to go even crazier and upped the player count to four from two. The focus on puzzles was even greater this time, especially with four people. Even though it was really fun and creative when playing with 3 other people, it wasn’t as much as fun Guardian of Light when it came to solo play since it was made with 4-player co-op in mind. If you have 3 other friends, though, it is still a blast to play in 2018.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Tomb Raider: Legend
Eidos took a break from the series and ditched the old developers after the failure that is Angel of Darkness. They hired a new company, Crystal Dynamics, which was the developer of the beloved Legacy of Kain series. Lara Croft’s creator Toby Gard was also back on board to help with the revival and they did the impossible and revived the franchise and proved that Eidos’ decision to take a 3-year break was a correct move. The game presented a fine balance between action and creative puzzles that utilized realistic physics.
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 2, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo DS, PSP, Game Boy Advance, GameCube
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
This is the new Tomb Raider gaming in 2018. After Crystal Dynamics’ excellent 7 Tomb Raider games, Eidos Montreal took over the development and it certainly did not disappoint. As the final game of this reborn trilogy after 2 huge games, Shadow of the Tomb Raider focuses on Lara’s character a lot more in which it did a great job. The big tombs with distinct and creative puzzles are the focus of the game, while still retaining the first 2 games’ signature action/stealth gameplay and scripted cinematic QTE sequences.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Also, check out our article 14 Games Like Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
When Crystal Dynamics took over the TR franchise and literally revived it with 3 amazing games, they took a completely different and unexpected turn with Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and implemented an isometric camera angle and arcade-style gameplay. The co-op gameplay worked perfectly with frequent and clever puzzles and secret-finding, which made the game truly feel like a proper Tomb Raider game. We just hope that developers make another co-op Lara Croft game after the rebooted trilogy.
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Android, Microsoft Windows, iOS, PlayStation Portable
Tomb Raider/Tomb Raider Anniversary
The first game of the series is undoubtedly one of the best in the franchise, regardless of how badly it aged. For 1996, the first Tomb Raider was a groundbreaking game in every sense of the world. The 3D visuals, the puzzles and the gameplay was revolutionary and laid the foundation of every TR game that would come out after it.
When Crystal Dynamics took over the development, they remade the original game with a few new ideas and better visuals. It was built with Legend’s engine and implemented a few gameplay elements from the game. Thus, it was more like a Tomb Raider: Legend expansion pack that had the original’s levels.
Platforms (TR): Sega Saturn, MS-DOS, PlayStation, N-Gage, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Android, Macintosh
Platforms (TR: Anniversary): Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Wii, Mobile, OS X, PlayStation 3
Tomb Raider (2013)
In 2013, Crystal Dynamics revived the franchise once again with another excellent entry and completely reformed the franchise. It brought Lara to the very beginning of her career and made us watch how she became the warrior we know her as. The characters, the story, visuals and puzzles were all truly next-gen coupled with a smooth combat system and a skill system which made exploring progressively better and more satisfying. It was the game that laid the foundation of an excellent trilogy.
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, OS X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linux, Shield TV
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Just like how Tom Raider II built upon everything the original Tomb Raider brought to the table, Rise of the Tomb Raider improved upon everything that made the 2013 reboot such a revitalizing experience. Better action? Check. Better puzzles and tomb raiding? Check. A deeper character analysis of Lara? Check. Better visuals? Also, check. The scripted action sequences were even more over-the-top and the antagonist was interesting. It was a great game all around and even surpassed the genre leader Uncharted in some aspects.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems, Linux
Tomb Raider II
After the huge success of the first Tomb Raider game, the sequel did what no one expected and actually built upon its predecessor. It was a notably better experience in all aspects despite coming out just 1 year later. It was focused more on the action but both action and the puzzle sequences were designed really well. Also, training in Lara’s mansion and poking fun at your butler, Winston, was a lot of fun and you could easily spend hours before even starting the main game. Even after 21 years, the second game remains as the best experience for its era and is responsible for the huge success of the series.
Platforms: PlayStation, Android, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Macintosh operating systems, Dreamcast
So here they are, every Tomb Raider game ranked from worst to best. The franchise had quite a long run with a 22-year history and it is still one of the biggest and most famous game franchises to date and its main character Lara Croft keeps growing with every game.
Just like every game series, though, the franchise had its ups and downs, which is only natural for a series that ran for 22 years and keeps going. It kept coming back stronger every new generation and we only hope that this upwards performance of the series keeps going. If you disagree with our list in any way, let us know below!