The dissolution of Core Design shortly afterwards, followed by the failure of the second Tomb Raider movie, seemed to signal the demise of Lara Croft. However, franchise owners Eidos Interactive were determined to revitalize Tomb Raider, and three years later, on the series' tenth anniversary, Tomb Raider: Legend arrived.
Legend, developed by Crystal Dynamics, rebooted the Tomb Raider series and brought Lara into the era of HD gaming. The more advanced technology of the current generation of consoles allowed Crystal Dynamics to create stunning environments and craft a control system that played to the strengths of analog controllers. Crystal Dynamics even brought in Tomb Raider creator Toby Gard, who had left Core in 1997, to work on the project and ensure it kept true to the spirit of the series. The reaction from critics and gamers was one of cautious optimism. The game sold well, and earned a respectable Metacritic score of 82.
The following year Crystal Dynamics released Tomb Raider: Anniversary. Anniversary was lovingly-crafted HD re-imagining of the first Tomb Raider, which perfectly captured everything great about that game, while deftly avoiding aspects of the original which, looking back, now seem broken and frustrating.
With two successes under their collective belt, the developers at Crystal Dynamics brought a direct sequel to Legend to market in 2008, in the form of Tomb Raider: Underworld. Underworld offered many technological improvements over Crystal Dynamics' previous Tomb Raider games, including motion-captured animation for Lara, making her move, climb and fight in a more realistic way. There were also changes to the way Lara could interact with the world, with more interactivity seen in levels. Parts of the world could be permanently destroyed, and Lara would leave footprints wherever she went. Unfortunately, despite this new technology and a plot which brought back classic Tomb Raider settings and characters, Underworld failed to meet Eidos' sales expectations.
This year, Tomb Raider is due for another reboot. Given the series tempestuous past, it's impossible to predict whether Tomb Raider 2011 will manage to recapture the success of earlier Tomb Raider titles, but it's looking good so far.
CCC Freelance Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*