Lara Croft has been around for quite a while. For many, a pointier Lara Croft was a part of their earliest video gaming memories. As the years went on, the Tomb Raider games came to be a lot smoother, both aesthetically and technically. Many things in the Tomb Raider series have gone through changes, like the complexity of the puzzles/levels which, over time, have become a lot more puzzling than just asking you to figure out which suspiciously textured blocks to move, and through progression in the level of immersion available, more awe-inspiring. It’s been 20 years since the first Tomb Raider game was released, and it’s got us thinking back. To help your nostalgia along, here are 10 of the best levels in the Tomb Raider series.
Tomb Raider (1996) – Tomb of Qualopec
As much as we may laugh at the obviousness of blocks with a different texture in old games, we have to appreciate how little that may have helped in the puzzles we strove to solve. Take the Tomb of Qualopec in the original Tomb Raider back in 1996. You’ll probably find that the ornate decor you were greeted with isn’t quite so spectacular when you revisit it now, though it’s still just as surprising when the raptors lunge out from their hallway (the lack of detail and pixelated texture just makes them that much more unsettling). In this wild tomb, you’ll shoot at ancient reptiles, wolves, mummies and all so you can grab that Piece of the Scion. It’s a memorable moment, and while it was redone well enough in the Tomb Raider Anniversary game a decade later, it cannot compare to the first time around.
Tomb Raider (1996) – The Lost Valley
Quite possibly the best Tomb Raider level, and the level that stood out for many of us was the Lost Valley, which held surprises none of the other Tomb Raider games in the series could match. Carried by the water, you enter a valley, seemingly guarded by mere wolves. “I’ve dealt with those before. Give me a real fight!” you thought to yourself as you ventured further into the valley. Suddenly, a raptor jumps out from above, “this is more like it!” you might have said to yourself. A few more raptors try to attack, but you’re too good a gamer for that. Then you see large footprints and hear the thunderous footsteps of a giant. Suddenly, you see a T-Rex emerge. That’s the heart-stopping moment we all had, right before we thought, “I take it back, I don’t want this”. It was so outrageous, we could scarcely believe it, which is why we all loved Lara Croft.
Tomb Raider II – Temple of Xian
The beautifully designed (for its time) level encompasses everything Tomb Raider was about: Raiding tombs and dodging their traps. It’s a cavernous area with an abundance of secret areas, golden dragons, and timed runs through traps, and in the end, you get the Dagger of Xian! Or you would have, if that dastardly Bartoli hadn’t gotten to it first.
Tomb Raider II – Bartoli’s Hideout
All roads lead to Rome, and all waterways lead to Venice— known for its canals and potential for amazing virtually rendered shootouts as can be found in Tomb Raider II. Bartoli’s Hideout was a mix of high octane action and perplexing level puzzles, all atop the (adorably rendered) blue waters of famed Venice. It was a maze of a level and it was tough to figure out where to go next, especially since no one really expected those chandeliers to be so strong and stable!
Tomb Raider III – Temple of Puna
This Tomb Raider level, like the few preceding it, takes place in the South Pacific, which makes for some scary content. As soon as you enter the funnily named, Temple of Puna, your ambushed by two dart-blowing natives. After you took care of them you couldn’t help but notice how curved the temple was. It made dodging those traps and natives around every corner, that much more difficult, but you made it through feeling a little like Indiana Jones, right before you’re faced with the lightning-throwing Puna and his damnable lizard friends— Classic boss battle, a great way to end a twisting level.