Lara Croft overlooks rugged wilderness in "Rise of the Tomb Raider"
(Square Enix Europe)

The 10 Best Tomb Raider Games Ranked

The pioneer of the action-adventure game, Lara Croft walked so Nathan Drake could fly. Despite the big-screen hype of Uncharted, Tomb Raider is arguably winning the franchise war. To celebrate the treasure-hunting OG, here are the top ten Tom Raider games ranked.

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10. Tomb Raider: Chronicles

Lara Crofts stands in a ravine in torchlight
(Core Design)

After Lara’s “death” at the end of Revelations, the franchise found itself at a crossroads. They could either follow up with a “just kidding” sequel or take the road less traveled and tell a completely different Tomb Raider story. They chose the latter, and it may be the thing that saved the franchise.

This isn’t to say that Tomb Raider: Chronicles was good, it wasn’t downright bad like other TR titles from the era. The gameplay, level design, and narrative are nothing to write home about. It’s like if you order the Tomb Raider equivalent of a burger from a cheap diner. It hits the spot, sure. But you could get the same thing at any diner in America.

9. Tomb Raider 3: Adventures of Lara Croft

Lara Croft stands in a dark church in "Tomb Raider 3"
(Core Design)

Lara Croft rounds off the original Tomb Raider trilogy by going to … Area 51? Just the idea alone makes this the most awesome location in Tomb Raider history by orders of magnitude. But despite the levels beautifully rendered with then state-of-the-art Playstation 1 graphics, Tomb Raider 3 leaves a complicated legacy for fans of the series. Why? Because the game itself is … complicated. Sometimes less is more, but TR3 didn’t seem to get the memo. As a result, the levels are needlessly complex and eager to get lost in. I want to blow up bad guys and find treasure, not retrace my steps for the umpteenth time.

8. Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

Lara Croft stands in a cave in "Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation"
(Core Design)

The Last Revelation is an odd addition to the series. It’s a prequel, for starters. The game centers around 15-year-old Lara Craft on one of her very first adventuring outings. When it comes to lavish puzzle designs, the game seriously shines. Narratively, the story suffers a bit. The team behind the franchise had already been forced to crank out three games in quick succession, leaving them straining for an original idea that hadn’t already been done. Lara’s character design doesn’t exactly lend itself to the narrative either. She looks 15 in the same way that an ecchi anime high school girl looks 15. Meaning she doesn’t, and the hypersexualized design feels creepy for obvious reasons.

7. Tomb Raider 2

Lara Croft stands among brick buildings in "Tomb Raider 2"
(Core Design)

Tomb Raider was on a roll. The first game had an explosive impact, birthing one of the most recognizable video game characters of the era. The team behind TR decided to quickly capitalize on the success of the original and created a solid sequel that still felt fresh. Modern gamers will be stunned by the Dark Souls difficulty level of this game. You will die, and you will die a lot. And no, it won’t always be fair. But that’s the beauty of old games, no? You asked for a challenge, and they gave it. Besides, the developers made up for the difficulty level by finally letting Lara drive in-game. I call it a win.

6. Tomb Raider: Underworld

Lara Croft fights tigers with pistols in "Tomb Raider: Underworld"
(Core Design)

After a series of bad games, the Tomb Raider franchise apparently died off in the early days of the 21st century. Lara was as forgotten as the long-lost treasures for which she once hunted. Then Uncharted came along and reignited the fire for adventure. The Tomb Raider team took inspiration from Naughty Dog’s fresh take on the adventure genre, and Underworld was born. It’s a pretty platformer that takes full advantage of the graphical capacities of second-gen consoles while providing a solid gameplay experience. It’s more of an assist than a slam dunk, but it CPR’d the franchise back from the brink and set the stage for the REALLY GOOD Tomb Raider games to come.

5. Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)

Lara Croft stands in a temple facing a shining statue in "Tomb Raider Legend"
(Core Design)

Underworld wasn’t the only game to revive the Tomb Raider franchise. Legend arguably had a tougher job. Following the disaster that was Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, Legend had to perform life-saving surgery on a franchise that many thought was dead on arrival. Clever puzzles and platforming combine to create a successful game that stays faithful to the core mechanics that made Tomb Raider a success in the first place.

4. Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Lara Croft stands in a lava filled cavern in "Shadow of the Tomb Raider"
(Square Enix Europe)

Now for the big guns. 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot brought critical acclaim to a series that seemed destined to suffer under the shadow of Uncharted. Lara Croft was back and better than ever. After two knockout games, the franchise followed up with Shadow of the Tomb Raider to round out the modern-day trilogy. While the story of the game isn’t nearly as strong as its predecessors, it’s hard to have a bad time fighting jaguars in the guts of the Amazon. The success of Shadow lies in the gameplay groundwork already laid by the top-notch titles that precede.

3. Tomb Raider (1996)

Lara Croft stands in dark ruins in the first "Tomb Raider"
(Square Enix Europe)

The grandmomma of the series, Tomb Raider gave birth to a series that had slipstreamed in and out of public consciousness for nigh on thirty years. Lara Croft’s instantly recognizable character, despite her hard triangular edges, was an immediate classic. While the platformer may feel dated to a modern audience, the original Tomb Raider gave an aura of adult coolness to the Playstation that Nintendo’s and Sega were unable to compete with. Did a large portion of Lara’s accolades come from teenage boys? Yes. But without those hormonal teens of yesteryear, Lara Croft may not have become the gaming icon she is today.

2. Tomb Raider (2013)

Lara-Croft-from-Tomb-Raider-aiming-bow
(Crystal Dynamics /Square Enix Europe)

Tomb Raider 2013 was a feat. A killer stealth action gameplay system combined with the beauty of third-gen gaming graphics to create an action-adventure title that could compete with the best. The game’s greatest accomplishment was the humanization of Lara Croft. Tomb Raider marked the transition of the character from a two-dimensional sex object to a fully-fledged human being who was more than just outsized body proportions. Lara Croft feels vulnerable in Tomb Raider 2013, a character with dreams and ambitions, and therefore something to lose.

1. Rise of the Tomb Raider

Lara Croft overlooks rugged wilderness in "Rise of the Tomb Raider"
(Square Enix Europe)

The second game of a third-gen trilogy always has that special sauce. Uncharted 2. Mass Effect 2. Lara Croft followed suit. Rise of the Tomb Raider took the mechanics and tone that made the 2013 title great and upped the ante. A thrill-seeking treasure hunter fighting grizzly bears with axes in the wilds of Siberia? Yeah, people are gonna wanna play that game. The best part? The surprising amount of exploration and customization that the game offers distinguishes it from the “adventure on rails” nature of the Uncharted series. Rise of the Tomb Raider rose to the occasion.

(Featured Image: Square Enix Europe)


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.