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Every Tomb Raider Game Listed in Order of Release Date

For over 25 years, the Tomb Raider video game franchise has thrilled and captivated gamers worldwide with the legendary adventures of treasure hunter extraordinaire, Lara Croft. Since debuting in 1996, the series has spawned over 20 titles across multiple gaming platforms and sold over 74 million copies globally.

The franchise has remained a cultural icon thanks to the groundbreaking original games, beloved protagonist Lara Croft, and influential subsequent reboot. Let‘s explore the storied journey of gaming‘s premiere archaeologist through every Tomb Raider game in order of release date.

The Early Years of Tomb Raider (1996-2000)

The era spanning 1996 to 2000 represents the pioneering early days of Tomb Raider, which set the template for action-adventure games.

Tomb Raider (1996)

  • Release Date: October 25, 1996
  • Platforms: PlayStation, Sega Saturn, MS-DOS
  • Storyline: Lara Croft quests for the lost Scion artifact for business tycoon Jacqueline Natla, traversing 15 stunning levels set in Peru, Greece, Egypt and lost city of Atlantis

Tomb Raider (1996) revolutionized 3D action-adventure gaming with its expansive worlds, platforming mechanics, and thrilling mix of combat, puzzles and exploration. The exotic locales, flashy cinematics and audacious lead heroine Lara Croft captured player imagination, selling over 7 million copies.

Notable Features

  • Groundbreaking 3D graphics and lifelike character animations
  • Blend of third-person shooting, platforming and puzzle gameplay
  • Open-ended level design encouraging exploration
  • Introduced iconic heroine Lara Croft

Tomb Raider II (1997)

  • Release Date: October 31, 1997
  • Platforms: PlayStation, PC
  • Storyline: Lara seeks ancient Chinese artifact Dagger of Xian across 15 globetrotting levels including Venice, China and an ocean liner shipwreck

Expanding on all fronts over its landmark predecessor, Tomb Raider II delivered visual magic with support for 3D graphic accelerators on PC. New vehicles like motorboats complemented the signature platforming and puzzling gameplay. Breathtaking setpieces and thrilling action sequences pushed cinematic flair to new heights.

Notable Features

  • Enhanced graphics and more expansive environments
  • New assortment of vehicles
  • Focus on thrilling cinematic action sequences

Tomb Raider III (1998)

  • Release Date: November 20, 1998
  • Platforms: PlayStation, PC
  • Storyline: Lara returns to India and South Pacific to recover meteorite artifacts that unlock secrets of an ancient civilization

Tomb Raider III raised the stakes with four diverse hub areas spanning India, South Pacific, London and Nevada. A new engine powered weather effects, richly detailed textures, and elaborate architecture designs. By expanding Lara‘s moves and weapons, developer Core pushed sandbox-style gameplay further.

Notable Features

  • Increased interactivity with richly detailed environments
  • Extended arsenal of new weapons like grenade launcher and MP5 submachine gun
  • Introduction of sprint ability and new moves like crawling

Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (1999)

  • Release Date: November 26, 1999
  • Platforms: PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast
  • Storyline: Series flashback title featuring young Lara in Egypt, where she accidentally unleashes ancient deity Set

Shifting focus to tomb exploration over gunplay, The Last Revelation packed in spectacular ancient Egyptian tomb levels full of clever puzzles. Expanded melee attacks and new wall-running maneuvers spiced up platforming. An emotive, character-driven plot added narrative depth beyond typical Tomb Raider fare.

Notable Features

  • Egypt setting with prominent tomb raiding focus
  • Young Lara origin story unveiling her past
  • Expanded melee attacks and athletic moves

Tomb Raider: Chronicles (2000)

  • Release Date: November 19, 2000
  • Platforms: PlayStation, Dreamcast
  • Storyline: Recounts untold stories of Lara‘s past after her supposed death

Serving as a retrospective, Tomb Raider: Chronicles revisited Croft Manor and other series locations while unveiling four new untold adventures. These spanned a high-rise infiltration in New York and escaping a high-tech submarine. New athletic abilities like tightrope walking and swinging broadened platforming possibilities.

Notable Features

  • Anthology-style collection of flashback adventures
  • Added stealth kill ability and expanded acrobatic moves
  • Inclusion of level editor on PC

The Later Years Under Core Design (2000-2003)

Spanning 2000 to 2003, Tomb Raider endured creative struggles which hampered the franchise. Yet, a few memorable handheld spin-offs emerged.

Tomb Raider (Game Boy Color, 2000)

Expanding Lara‘s adventures to handheld, this Game Boy Color spin-off whisked her away to recover the Nightmare Stone artifact over 23 levels. The side-scroller simplified trademark elements like combat and exploration for on-the-go play. Impressive sprite graphics and devious puzzles made it one of the GBC‘s best showcases.

Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword (2001)

This Game Boy Color sequel traps Lara in a battle across New York and New Orleans to break an ancient sword‘s curse. It polished visuals and controls for smoother side-scrolling action.

Tomb Raider: The Prophecy (2002)

Lara takes the fight to the Norse god Loki in this Game Boy Advance adventure fueled by isometric puzzling and combat across mystical European locales.

Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (2003)

  • Release Date: June 20, 2003
  • Platforms: PlayStation 2, PC
  • Storyline: Framed for a former mentor‘s murder, fugitive Lara probes a shadowy alchemical organization in Paris and Prague

Swapping out exploration for role-playing inspired investigation, The Angel of Darkness overhauled combat, controls and level design to mixed reception. Despite technical struggles, the macabre plot marked a narrative high point. But after lackluster sales, Eidos transferred development duties from Core Design over to Crystal Dynamics for future series revival.

The Crystal Dynamics Era (2006-Present)

With Crystal Dynamics assuming development reins, Lara Croft‘s fortunes reversed with well-received new games recapturing Tomb Raider magic.

Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)

  • Release Date: April 7, 2006
  • Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PC
  • Storyline: Seeking sword Excalibur linked to her mother‘s disappearance, Lara adventures across Bolivia, Peru, Japan and Ghana

As Crystal Dynamics‘ stellar series debut, Tomb Raider: Legend successfully modernized gameplay to rejuvenate the franchise after The Angel of Darkness misstep. Slick visuals, expanded platforming mechanics with grappling hook, engrossing locales from tropical ruins to Himalayan peaks, and greater personal stakes for Lara marked a return to form.

Notable Features

  • Modern graphical overhaul
  • Revised control scheme for more fluid movement and platforming
  • Added grappling hook enabling world interaction
  • Personal quest storyline focused on Lara‘s past

Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007)

  • Release Date: June 1, 2007
  • Platforms: PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, PC
  • Storyline: Faithful remake of the original 1996 game, tracking Lara through Peru, Greece and Egypt seeking the Atlantean Scion artifact

Lovingly overhauled with Legend‘s engine and gameplay, Tomb Raider: Anniversary paid tribute to the original game that started it all. By retaining iconic moments and level design while enhancing visuals, controls and combat mechanics, it proved both a nostalgic treat and solid introduction for newcomers.

Notable Features

  • Built using Legend game engine
  • Artfully recreated levels faithful to 1996 original
  • Added rappelling mechanic for descending long pits

Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)

  • Release Date: November 18, 2008
  • Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
  • Storyline: Seeking Norse hammer Mjolnir linked to her mother‘s research, Lara voyages from Thailand to Arctic Sea

Culminating Crystal Dynamics‘ first trilogy, Tomb Raider: Underworld implemented complex environmental physics so Lara could realistically interact with intricate island ecosystems. Fluid platforming and thoughtful puzzles brought back the joy of exploration. Against dazzling setpieces like collapsing monasteries or underwater shipwreck dives, Underworld represents the pinnacle of this Tomb Raider era.

Notable Features

  • Intricate physics system allowing realistic environmental interaction
  • Grand scale hub areas with sweeping vistas
  • Bigger emphasis on environmental puzzles and platforming

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2010)

Trading solo tomb raiding for co-op, Lara partners with Mayan warrior Totec in isometric arcade-style puzzler across Central American ruins. By requiring coordinated use of each character‘s unique abilities, the cooperative gameplay innovated the series.

Tomb Raider (2013)

  • Release Date: March 5, 2013
  • Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
  • Storyline: Shipwrecked off Japan on her first expedition, young Lara faces primal threats that forge her into the Tomb Raider

This story-driven reboot origin tale reconstruction Lara as a vulnerable rookie adventurer overcoming trauma and lethal opposition. Cinematic set-pieces conveyed visceral brutality, from mountain base escapes to towering burning temples. The emotive narrative humanizing Lara resonated widely.

Notable Features

  • Dark reboot portraying Lara‘s early origin story
  • Shift to survival action gameplay with brutal takedowns
  • Big-budget cinematic spectacle
  • Strong character focus realizing a vulnerable Lara

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris (2014)

Expanding the co-op formula, competitive and cooperative puzzling merged across Egyptian tombs when Lara teams with rival treasure hunters Carter Bell and gods Horus and Isis versus evil deity Set.

Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015)

  • Release Date: November 10, 2015
  • Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC
  • Storyline: Hardened Lara attempts to uncover lost Russian immortality in the harsh Siberian wilderness, battling paramilitary group Trinity

Set one year after Tomb Raider‘s gritty reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider further evolved survival elements like crafting weapons from wildlife hunts while retaining cinematic flair. Lara herself wrestled with her destiny as tomb raider turned hardened warrior at personal cost, brought vividly to life through Camilla Luddington‘s performance.

Notable Features

  • Built on cinematic flair, combat and survival elements of 2013 reboot
  • Expanded hub areas with side quests and challenge tombs
  • Strong character development showing heavier toll on Lara
  • Increased stealth options

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018)

  • Release Date: September 14, 2018
  • Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
  • Storyline: Lara races to prevent Mayan apocalypse she unleashed in disaster-struck Cozumel and Peru

Concluding Lara‘s gritty origin trilogy on a grand stage, Shadow of the Tomb Raider expanded stealth and aquatic exploration while diving deep into Mayan lore. A richly realized Latin American world brimming with vivid culture set the stage for Lara‘s inner transformation. By bearing responsibility for her life‘s recent trauma, she fully steps into her destiny as the Tomb Raider.

Notable Features

  • Adds fear mechanic making combat riskier
  • Further fleshes out Lara‘s character arc accepting her identity
  • Showcases stunningly realized hub worlds

Tomb Raider Reloaded (2023)

Representing Lara Croft‘s first foray into mobile gaming, this free-to-play action arcade shooter adopts a retro top-down design to pit Lara against Atlantis myth-fueled foes. By condensing Tomb Raider‘s action, puzzles and exploration into quickfire levels, Tomb Raider Reloaded brings Lara‘s adventures to smartphones on the go.

And those represent all the Tomb Raider games in order of release date from the legendary franchise spanning over 25 years! Across multiple continuities, protagonists and gameplay reinventions, Lara Croft has raided tombs across the globe while cementing her status as one of gaming‘s most enduring and groundbreaking icons. Let me know which Tomb Raider games are your personal favorites!