Tomb Raider is a 2013 action-adventure video game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix's European subsidiary. It is the tenth title in the Tomb Raider franchise, and operates as a reboot that reconstructs the origins of Lara Croft. Tomb Raider was first released on 5 March 2013 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Gameplay elements focus more on survival, although exploration is used within the game when exploring the island and various optional tombs. It is also the first game in the main series to have multiplayer, the first game in the series to be published by Square Enix, after the latter's acquisition of Eidos Interactive in 2009, and the first game in the series to be given a "Mature" rating from the ESRB.
Crystal Dynamics began development of Tomb Raider soon after the release of Tomb Raider: Underworld in 2008. Rather than a sequel, the team decided to completely reboot the series, re-establishing the origins of Lara Croft for the second time, as they did with Tomb Raider: Legend. Tomb Raider is set on Yamatai, an island from which Lara, who is untested and not yet the battle-hardened explorer she is in other titles in the series, must save her friends and escape while being hunted down by a malevolent cult. Camilla Luddington was announced to voice and perform as Lara Croft in 2010, replacing Keeley Hawes.
Widely anticipated, the game suffered a delayed release from late 2012 to March 2013. Upon release, Tomb Raider received critical acclaim, with critics praising the graphics, gameplay, Luddington's performance as Lara, and Lara's characterization and development, although the addition of a multiplayer mode was not well received and some reviewers directed criticism towards the game's ludonarrative dissonance. Tomb Raider went on to sell more than 14.5 million copies as of October 2021, making it the best-selling Tomb Raider title to date. A remastered version, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, was released worldwide in January 2014 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One containing all features and DLC. A sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, was released in November 2015 and a third and final instalment, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, was released in September 2018.
Tomb Raider is presented in third-person perspective. Players take control of the series lead character Lara Croft. The game uses an interconnected hub-and-spoke model that combines action-adventure, exploration, and survival mechanics. Players can traverse between the camps and across the island using footpaths, improvised or already-available ziplines and climbable tracks. Many of the players' moves are carried over from the previous games created by Crystal Dynamics, with some tweaks added, such as incorporating elements of stealth gameplay. Quick time events are scattered at regular intervals throughout the game, often appearing at crucial or fast-moving points in the game's plot, such as extracting a shard of metal, and escaping a collapsing cave.
The player character, standing atop a high ledge, creating a makeshift zipline to a lower ledge by shooting an arrow.
Players can create makeshift ziplines to traverse between camps and across the island.
The combat of the game borrows multiple elements from Naughty Dog's Uncharted series, with players having the ability to free-aim Lara's bow and the guns she salvages, engage in close-quarter combat and perform stealth kills. Players can also use Survival Instinct, an ability in which enemies, collectables and objects pivotal to environmental puzzles will be highlighted for players. The game also incorporates RPG elements: as players progress through the game, they earn experience points from performing certain actions and completing in-game challenges linked with hunting, exploring and combat: this enables players' skills and abilities to be upgraded in specific ways, such as giving her more storage capacity for arrows and ammunition. Players can also upgrade and customize weapons using salvage collected across the island. There is also a character progression mechanic in the game: better items, weapons and equipment are gained as players progress, though the appearance of most of these items is closely linked to events in the story. In addition to the main story, players can complete multiple side quests, explore the island, revisit locations, and search for challenge tombs.
Alongside the single-player mode is an online multiplayer mode, which allows players to compete in several maps. In each multiplayer match, there are two enemy teams: four survivors and four scavengers, and there are three types of games for multiplayer to compete in, played in five different maps: the modes are Team Deathmatch, Private Rescue and Cry for Help. The first mode is a simple PvP combat scenario, with teams pitted against each other, and the winning team being the one to kill the opposing team in three separate matches. In the second mode, the "survivors" team must take medical supplies to a specific point on the map, while the "scavengers" must reach a certain number of kills, both within a ten-minute time limit. The third mode, Cry for Help, involves the "survivors" exploring the maps and retrieving batteries for defended radio beacons while being hunted by the "scavengers". Across all three modes, weapons and destroyable environments from the single-player campaign are carried over.
Setting and characters
The game is set on Yamatai, a fictional lost island in the Dragon's Triangle off the coast of Japan. The island—and the kingdom that once existed there—is shrouded in mystery, given its reputation for fearsome storms and shipwrecks that litter its coastline. Yamatai was once ruled by a queen named Himiko, known by her honorific title of "Sun Queen," who, according to legend, was blessed with shamanistic powers that enabled her to control the weather. Very little is known about Yamatai's history in the time since Himiko's death, other than that the island's infamy was established shortly thereafter. In exploring the island, the player may find evidence that—among others—Portuguese traders, United States Marines, and a Japanese military project were all stranded on Yamatai at various points throughout history. At the start of the game, the island is populated exclusively by the Solarii Brotherhood, a violent cult of criminals, mercenaries, and shipwreck survivors. The Solarii Brotherhood has established its own society based on the worship of Himiko, complete with a social structure and laws, with their exact purpose and intentions being explored throughout the story.
The player takes on the role of Lara Croft, a young and ambitious archaeology graduate whose theories on the location of the lost kingdom of Yamatai have convinced the Nishimura family—descendants from the people of Yamatai themselves—to fund an expedition in search of the kingdom. The expedition is led by Dr. James Whitman, a celebrity archaeologist who has fallen on hard times and is desperate to avoid bankruptcy, and is accompanied by Conrad Roth, a Royal Marine turned adventurer and close friend of the Croft family who serves as mentor to Lara; Samantha "Sam" Nishimura, Lara's friend and a representative of the Nishimura family who films the expedition for a documentary; Joslyn Reyes, a skeptical and temperamental mechanic and single mother; Jonah Maiava, an imposing and placid fisherman who is willing to believe in the existence of the paranormal and esoteric; Angus "Grim" Grimaldi, the gruff Glaswegian helmsman of the Endurance; and Alex Weiss, a goofy and bespectacled electronics specialist.
Lara sets out on her first expedition aboard the ship Endurance, intending to find the lost kingdom of Yamatai. By her suggestion and against Whitman's advice, the expedition ventures into the Dragon's Triangle. The ship is struck by a violent storm and sinks, stranding the survivors on the isolated island. Lara is separated from the others and is forced to escape the cave of a deranged savage. As Lara locates the other survivors, she finds more evidence that the island is inhabited. She finds her friend Sam and a man called Mathias, who claims to be one of the passengers. As Sam tells Mathias the legends of Himiko, Lara passes out; when she wakes, Mathias and Sam are gone. When Lara reunites with the other survivors, Whitman decides to break off from the main party with Lara and search for Roth, who is still missing, while the rest of the group (Reyes, Jonah, Alex, and Grim) look for Sam and Mathias. As Lara and Whitman explore, they discover that the island's inhabitants are worshipping Himiko, confirming that the island is Yamatai. The two are captured by the islanders and taken to a settlement along with other survivors from the Endurance. When the survivors attempt an escape, the captors turn on them. Lara is separated from Whitman and is forced to kill one of her attackers. She then locates an injured Roth, and using his equipment, she sets off for a communications relay at the very top of the mountain to contact the outside world and call for aid.
After successfully hailing a plane searching for the Endurance and setting a signal fire for them to follow, Lara witnesses a fierce storm materialize and destroy the plane. Although the pilot successfully parachutes to safety, Lara is powerless to stop the island's inhabitants from killing him. Lara is then contacted by Alex and Reyes, who reveal that Sam has been kidnapped by the island's inhabitants, a violent cult known as the Solarii Brotherhood. Lara, who is closest to Sam's position, tries to rescue her but is foiled by Mathias—revealed to be the leader of the Solarii—who orders her killed. Lara is saved by the intervention of a samurai dubbed "Oni" and taken to an ancient monastery in the mountains. Escaping again, Lara stumbles upon a ritual chamber, where she learns that a "fire ritual" was used to choose the Sun Queen's successor as part of a ceremony called the "Ascension." A terrified Sam manages to contact Lara and informs her that the Solarii intends to put her through the fire ritual, which will burn her to death if unsuccessful. Lara fights her way through the Solarii fortress with help from Grim, who is killed after the Solarii captures him. With Roth's help, Lara infiltrates the palace and witnesses Mathias putting Sam through the fire ritual. Lara tries to save Sam, but she is overpowered by Mathias and his men. Sam is not harmed by the flames, which are extinguished by a great wind, marking her as Himiko's rightful successor.
Lara narrowly escapes captivity once again and doubles back to help her friends, whose attempts to reach Sam have resulted in their capture. Aided by Whitman—who managed to negotiate some degree of freedom with the Solarii—Lara returns to the palace to rescue Sam as Roth commandeers a helicopter to get them out. Having witnessed the storm that forced the search plane to crash, Lara sends Sam to escape by land and tries to force the pilot to land as a second storm brews up, striking the helicopter and forcing them to crash. Lara nearly dies, and Roth is fatally wounded by Mathias while saving her. Lara realizes that the storms are being magically generated to keep everyone trapped on the island. She meets up with the other survivors, who have evaded the Solarii long enough to secure a boat that can be repaired and used to escape. They are joined by Whitman, who claims to have escaped, though Lara suspects him of working with the cultists. Lara heads for the wreck of the Endurance to meet up with Alex, who had previously gone there to salvage the tools needed to repair the boat. She finds him trapped under the wreckage, but Alex forces her to flee from Solarii cultists and sacrifices himself so Lara can escape with the tools.
Following the lead of a World War II-era Japanese military expedition researching the storms, Lara explores an ancient coastal tomb. She discovers the remains of the general of the Stormguard—the Oni defending the monastery—who had committed seppuku; in his final message, he reveals that Himiko's successor took her own life rather than receive her power, leaving the Himiko trapped in her body after death. Lara realizes that the "Ascension" is a ritual that transfers Himiko's soul into a new body, destroying the host's soul in the process. Himiko's spirit wants to escape its current body, and Mathias plans to offer Sam as a new host. Lara returns to the survivors to find that Whitman has betrayed them, abducting Sam and giving her to Mathias. Lara, Jonah, and Reyes give chase to the monastery, with Lara arriving just in time to see Whitman killed by the Oni. After fighting her way through the queen's guards, Lara arrives at the top of the monastery in time to see Mathias start the Ascension ritual. She works her way to Mathias, confronting Solarii and guards alike. Lara kills Mathias when she shoots him from the roof of the monastery using her signature dual-wield style, before destroying Himiko's remains to save Sam. With the storms dispersed, Lara, Sam, Reyes, and Jonah leave the island and are picked up by a cargo ship. As she and her friends sail home, Lara decides that there are many more myths to be found and resolves to uncover them, stating that she is not returning home just yet.