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The 5 Best (and 5 Worst) Tomb Raider Video Games

Tomb Raider

(Updated 4/13/22) Netflix’s recent reveal that they’ve greenlit an animated series based on the Tomb Raider franchise has given many gamers a chance to reflect on the legendary video game series.

Do so, and you’ll probably find that Tomb Raider of the most uneven and fascinating franchises in video game history. Among the entries that make Tomb Raider so successful and famous are games that you wouldn’t play on a bet. 

With that in mind, here’s our look at the best and worst Tomb Raider games so far.

The Best Tomb Raider Games

5. Tomb Raider (1996)

The first Tomb Raider hasn’t exactly aged gracefully, but there’s no denying the craft that went into this early 3D action/adventure game.

Graphics and control problems aside, Tomb Raider‘s balance of action and puzzles set a standard for variety that subsequent titles struggled to replicate. This really was the template for what a great Tomb Raider game should be.

4. Tomb Raider: Legend

This often-overlooked Tomb Raider game benefits from the era of action/adventure titles that it was released in.

Softly modeled after the more modern Prince of Persia games, Tomb Raider: Legend retains the adventurous spirit of the original games but greatly improves the visual and control problems that plagued those early releases. It’s a real gem.

3. Shadow of the Tomb Raider

While this game sometimes tries a little too hard to be more “cinematic” than it is, it’s hard to deny how enjoyable the overall ride is.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a fundamentally enjoyable game that features some of this franchise’s best set pieces and gameplay ideas. Even if the story doesn’t quite get there, it gets close enough to be worth your time.

2. Tomb Raider 2

The gold standard of retro Tomb Raider games remains the best overall entry in the franchise in the minds of many fans.

Through a combination of smart improvements and some of the best actual “tomb raiding” in this franchise’s history, Tomb Raider 2 showed what this franchise could be when it was firing on all cylinders.

1. Tomb Raider (2013)

Yes, this game borrows heavily from Uncharted, but this reboots intimate scale and personal stories help it find its identity.

Everything in this reboot feels much more grounded than what we see in the Uncharted series. Even when the title goes too dark, it effectively sets up the new adventures of Lara Croft.

The Worst Tomb Raider Games

5. Tomb Raider 3

While this title was initially well-received, the years have highlighted this sequel’s flaws in ways that are hard to ignore.

Simply put, Tomb Raider 3’s difficulty too often makes it a fundamentally unenjoyable experience. This game’s infamous instant death sequences are made all the more annoying by an unforgivable collection of glitches.

4. Tomb Raider: The Prophecy

It feels wrong to pick on a handheld Tomb Raider game, but The Prophecy deserves some flak for not even trying to replicate the main entries into the series.

This top-down game relies too much on simplistic action sequences and painfully simple puzzles. If it weren’t for the fact this carries the name of one of gaming’s most famous franchises, there would be no reason to talk about it.

3. Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

To be honest, The Last Revelation‘s biggest problem was that it was the game that showed old-school Tomb Raider titles were finally losing their luster.

This game doesn’t really do anything better than its predecessors but features all the visual, camera, and control problems that hurt those early titles to this day. What should have been a chance to showcase the power of the Dreamcast felt like a phoned-in sequel.

2. Tomb Raider Chronicles

While I absolutely love the idea of a Tomb Raider anthology game, Chronicles fails at everything besides its premise.

Once again, Chronicles features everything that had already aged poorly about the Tomb Raider series. This time, though, those problems are complimented by awful stealth sequences, poor level design, the worst camera yet, and the general feeling that you’re playing every idea that wasn’t good enough to make it into the previous games.

1. Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness

The often undisputed candidate for the worst Tomb Raider game ever is a failure on every conceivable level.

Ultimately, Angel of Darkness is an unfinished game that’s rushed development cycle resulted in countless glitches, half-finished ideas, and the absolute worst gameplay in Tomb Raider history. This one basically killed the franchise for years.

(Original Publish Date 1/31/21)

Matthew Byrd

Matthew Byrd covers the gaming industry including indies, consoles, PCs, iOS and Android apps, as well as topics related to entertainment and technology.