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I remember the first time I saw the Indiana Jones movies and the impact it had on me. When I was just a little boy these adventurous stories glued me to the screen as I watched them over and over again. Exploring hidden tombs in search for long lost artifacts, whilst avoiding traps, solving puzzles and dispensing of bad guys filled me with wonder and excitement.
Sure, they released an Indiana Jones game on the Mega Drive, which I’ll no doubt cover in the future, but when Tomb Raider burst onto the scene I was blown away. This was quite possibly the first fully 3D game I’d ever experienced. Before that I’d played games like DOOM, but nothing like this; A true 3D adventure platformer!
1996 was the year of my first PC, running on Windows 95. I remember thinking “surely it should be Windows 96? Is this the old version?” and being VERY impressed with it’s 3GB of hard disk space. Until this time I was gaming on my trusty Mega Drive, Game Boy and the odd LCD handheld device such as my Ninja Turtles games, so when I saw the FMV sequences it was a significant jump for me. I used to keep restarting the game just to watch them. I also used to wonder if games would ever look as good as they do in these cut scenes, which of course they do now. Much better in fact.
Whilst the controls aren’t quite perfect and take a little bit of time to get used to nowadays, they were impressive at the time. A lot of early 3D games suffer from bad controls and awful camera glitches as to be fair, the developers were still learning and experimenting with this newly added dimension. You can see from Lara Croft’s vast array of moves that an incredible amount of detail went into her animations, abilities and the accuracy of her movements.
When I first played Tomb Raider I was not disappointed. The environments, puzzles, secret areas and collectibles, the enemies, the atmosphere… I still enjoy it to this day. I was amazed and it felt like a true interactive experience of a story much like the old Indiana Jones movies I love so much.
One of the most memorable moments for me in the first game was exploring the Lost Valley and discovering dinosaurs. Jurassic Park was another big movie from my childhood, so having to fight velociraptors and a giant T. Rex was pretty awesome!
Of course, perhaps the fondest memory I and a lot of people have of Tomb Raider comes from it’s sequel, which I also owned on the PC. How many of you enjoyed locking the Butler in the freezer?! This creepy old guy used to shuffle about and follow you all over Lara’s mansion.
Another thing that sticks out in my mind is the rumours on the school playground and in games magazines at the time. So many people used to talk about the “Naked Lara” cheat which just wasn’t possible. Well, maybe on the PC with a texture hack, but certainly not on the PlayStation 1 or Sega Saturn releases. I did enjoy how Core Design teased at this infatuation in the shower scene ending of Tomb Raider 2. I felt that was a nice touch.
There was a time when the success of Tomb Raider and the obsession over Lara Croft dominated the media, with computer generated “photo shoots” in magazines and appearing in Lucozade adverts. Who remembers those? Gaming expos also featured real life models like Nell McAndrew and eventually there were even two films made which weren’t too bad. The whole history of Tomb Raider is a subject that really interests me, and is something I’d like to cover in the future.
As for the original game, I feel it is one of the early 3D titles that has actually aged quite gracefully. It’s far from perfect by today’s standards, but it was great for it’s time and Lara Croft therefore is rightfully considered as a gaming icon. Her most recent outing in “Rise of the Tomb Raider” is absolutely amazing and well worth playing if you haven’t already. There was also a remake of the original released back in 2007 called “Tomb Raider Anniversary” which was available on the PS2, PSP, PS3, PC, Xbox 360 and the Wii. I really enjoyed this as well.
If you have any fond memories of the early Tomb Raider games I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. If you enjoyed this video, please consider hitting the like button, subscribing and sharing it with your friends and as always thanks for watching, take care and I’ll see you in the next video!