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 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 virtual gaming industry. The Guinness Book of World Records has recognised Lara Croft as the "Most Successful Human Virtual Game Heroine" in 2006. The first six games in the series were developed by Core Design, whilst Crystal Dynamics developed the latest four; their fifth game is currently in production. 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. In the original game, Alison Carroll, a British gymnast portrays Lara Croft.
The central character in Tomb Raider is the British archaeologist Lara Croft, a female adventurer in search of ancient relics used by Thor, the God of Thunder, King Arthur and many others. 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 dark green or blue sleeveless top, holsters on both sides of her hip for dual wielded pistols which carry almost 30 bullets together, 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.
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 Tomb Raider was transferred from Core Design to Crystal Dynamics, Lara's biography, only ever mentioned in instruction manuals, was contradicted by a new biography which supported an in game sub-plot concerning the deaths of Lara's parents.
Several actresses and models have taken on the role of Lara Croft in real life for publicity purposes, including the British model 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, who is a British gymnast. American actress Angelina Jolie was cast as Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider movies (Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II - The Cradle Of Life).
Nearly fifteen 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.
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.
The original game, titled Tomb Raider, made its début on the Sega Saturn, PlayStation, and PC. Despite being released on the Saturn first alongside PC, 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 tombs, 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.
Originally, the Tomb Raider Games were developed by Core Design, and a game was released annually. However, the pressure grew so much on the team that they decided to kill Lara Croft off at the end of the fourth game. Still, a fifth game was released, which consisted of a series of flashbacks with Lara Croft's funeral serving as fraiming story for the various tales. The sixth installment Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness revived the character and was to start a trilogy. The game infamously featured a darker more city-based setting and included stealth-elements and also introduced a new playable character for a short time in the game. The game was a failure, however, and thus the Core Design Era ended.
In the early 2000s, a series of hand-held titles were released for the GAME BOY color and GAME BOY Advance, which were developed by other developers, neither Core Design nor Crystal Dynamics and are therefore not considered to be part of the series.
Crystal Dynamics, known for their work on the Legacy of Kain series, relaunched the series with Tomb Raider: Legend which brought the character back to its tomb raiding roots. It was the first time since the original Tomb Raider that Lara Croft's original creator, Toby Gard returned to work on a sequel. The game heavily expanded on Lara Croft's background, detailing on the lost of her mother in early childhood and how she followed her father's footsteps to find her (therefore beginning her archeology career). Following the success of Legend a remake of the original was produced and released almost a year later, called Tomb Raider: Anniversary. The game expanded on some of the plot lines, further setting up the follow-up to Legend, which was released in late 2008: Tomb Raider: Underworld. The game featured the conclusion of a loose Trilogy that forms Anniversary, Legend and Underworld.
Following that, the Structure in Crystal Dynamics changed and part of the team worked on a new spin-off, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, while another began working on a reboot of the franchise.
On August 18, 2010, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix released a download-only title, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, the first game in the series not to bear the name Tomb Raider. The omission of the Tomb Raider branding was said to separate Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light from the "pillar" Tomb Raider games, which are also still being produced.
In an interview with GamingIndians.com, 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."The official site revealed the next Tomb Raider game which is simply titled Tomb Raider, It is described as a reboot of Lara Croft. No official release dates have been confirmed.
All the scores to the Tomb Raider saga are produced by respective composers using software instrumentation, such as recording samples and electronic synthesizers. The exception is Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darknesswhich was recorded live by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, London, in 2002.
A few Tomb Raider soundtracks have had official releases made. However, the majority of the in-game music has yet to be commercialized. Eidos has expressed no concern (despite considerable fan demand) in 15 years of publishing the franchise. Even though video game score commercialization became common ground during the late 2000s (with music being sold from blockbuster titles such as the Halo, Assassin's Creed, and Mass Effect series), soundtracks to the Tomb Raider saga remain unreleased. This may be due to Eidos's lack of a music sub-group, such as rival companies' Ubisoft Music or EA Trax.
The composers are unable to sell their music independently because under employment as in-house composers (at either Crystal Dynamics or Core Design), they are also tied to Eidos (as the parent company) by contract. Subsequently, Eidos owns the licensing rights to the composers' material. An example of this exploitation is Troels Folmann's recycled music from Tomb Raider: Legend and Anniversary (plus O'Malley's Underworld) present in the 2010 game Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.
It is unclear whether or not the situation will change after Square Enix Europe's acquisition of Eidos in 2009. However, SEE does support a Square Enix Music sub-group.
The basic instrumentation for the Tomb Raider scores is orchestral, though the games adopt different instrumentation and tone with each instalment in the series. Nathan McCree's style when scoring the first Tomb Raider is most similar to Classical music, especially the cues with a fast tempo. Additionally, slow tempo cues are built on a minimalistic base using minimalistic cells and two to four repeated musical notes. Different instruments like the vibraphone, strings, harp, or woodwinds provide a mysterious setting for the player.
Stings were used very often to warn the player about an impending danger, or if the player discovers a certain area. As an example, if the player picks up a secret object or, in later games, if he/she discovers an area with secret objects, a short vibraphone sound may be heard indicating the player has found a "Secret". The sound has been used in the first five Tomb Raider video games, including Tomb Raider: Anniversary, though it has some insignificant sound variations.
The most memorable tune of the series was composed by Nathan McCree with the main theme of the first game of the series, a solo oboe melody orchestrated with choirs and strings, exposing for the first time the 4 most important musical notes, the signature, the motif of the entire series, composed in a most conjunct melodic manner possible: G A F G. The original motif is followed immediately after by the sequenced motif with A# A G, giving at the same time the possibility of looping the theme and the feeling of completion. Variations of this tune, especially the original motif have been used throughout all Tomb Raider games.
The symphonic sounds of the earlier games composed by Nathan McCree were created using Roland Corporation's Orchestral Expansion board for their JV series modules (JV-1080 Synthesizer Module & SR-JV80-02 Expansion Board).
With Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, the composer changes for the first time in the series, Peter Connelly being the next composer to come, he tries to respect Nathan's musical style of the series, keeping the stings and similar orchestration. For the main theme of "The Last Revelation" he sequences with a vibraphone the original motif in a 4 musical notes minimalist cell, used from the beginning to the end of the melody.
Angel of Darkness is the first game to bring underscores, previous games using stings and full scores only. Also, for the first time in the series, the score has been performed by a real orchestra (London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Snell). This game combines the style of Danny Elfman Batman scores with the classic Tomb Raider style. The basis of the main theme of this 5th game is the ending of the previous game.
Troels Brun Folmann brings with Legend a new kind of music style with underlying beats, just like 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. The 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.
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 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.
The music supervisor of Underworld is Troels Brun Folmann, he also composed the main theme, while Colin O'Malley scored 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.
2010's spin-off title Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light uses recycled musical cues from Legend, Anniversary, and Underworld by composer(s) Troels Brun Folmann and Colin O'Malley.
The composer for Tomb Raider (2011) remains unannounced However, on 21 December 2010, a podcast was released via the exclusive Game Informer media coverage. As well as featuring an interview with the developers regarding selected publicized fan questions, it also included "a sneak peek at a track from the game itself" composed by Aleksandar Dimitrijevic. The music heard introduces piano and guitar layers, purporting darker undertones. This literally and symbolically creates a distinct feel for Tomb Raider; made explicitly separate to the rest of the music of the Tomb Raider franchise which the guitar as an instrument is particularly foreign to. Most similar to music from Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, fully orchestrated strings follow which are accompanied by percussion. The instruments develop into an inverted minor derivation of the classic Tomb Raider motif composed by Nathan McCree in 1996, providing an unsettling familiarity.
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 2001 adventure film adapted from the Tomb Raider video game series; Lara Croft races against time and villains to recover a powerful artefact called the All-seeing eye.
The film was directed by Simon West and starred Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. It was released in U.S. theaters on June 15, 2001 receiving mostly negative reviews from critics. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider debuted at number one with $48.2 million, giving Paramount its second-best debut and the fourth-highest debut of 2001. It beat the opening record for a film featuring a female protagonist ($40.1 million for Charlie's Angels), and is the second most successful video game adaptation to date (after Prince of Persia), grossing $274,703,340 worldwide.
Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)
Angelina Jolie returns as Lara Croft in the 2003 sequel to the original video game based film. This time, Lara Croft attempts 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.
This film was directed by Jan de Bont and was released in U.S. theaters on July 21, 2003 receiving slightly higher reviews than the original. Despite the more favourable critical response, Cradle of Life suffered a disappointing opening weekend, as it debuted in fourth place with a take of $21.7 million, a 55% drop from the original's opening gross of $47.7 million. The film finished with a domestic gross of only $65 million, therefore relying on the foreign box office to make a profit. Total earnings amounted to $156.5 million, which represented a loss of $118 million&—nearly equal the cost of Cradle's budget alone- compared to the original's total take of $274.4 million.
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.
Graham King's GK Films acquired the film rights and plan to release an origin story reboot by 2013. Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby are hired to penned the film.
Tomb Raider was licensed to comic book publisher Top Cow Productions, which released several Tomb Raider comics beginning in 1997. Alongside crossovers with the publisher's company-owned Witchblade and creator-owned Fathom, an eponymous ongoing series began publication in 1999, ending in 2004 with its fiftieth issue.
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.
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 consists of various artistic talent's renditions of Lara Croft. Minnie Driver provides the voice for Lara Croft.
Four scores to seven of the Tomb Raider games exist as promotional items (and/or under enclosure), while some were available to consumers in specific retail editions with a limited window of opportunity to purchase. All marketable commodities are now out of print and have become rare collector's items. The majority of musical material for the games remains unreleased.
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 Island and a flying roller coaster at Canada's Wonderland) and Tomb Raider: FireFall (a suspended HUSS Top Spin at Kings Dominion). 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.