Tomb Raider is a game released for the PlayStation, the Sega Saturn, and PC compatibles. It is the first game to introduce the character of Lara Croft.
The story opens with a prologue in Los Alamos County, New Mexico. A nuclear test causes an earthquake which exposes an ancient device buried beneath the desert. The device is set into motion and reveals a frozen lifeform. The story then continues in the present day.
After Lara Croft returns from an expedition in the Himalayas she is contacted by an American named Larson, who works for the wealthy businesswoman Jacqueline Natla, owner of Natla Technologies. At Natla's request, Lara sets out on an expedition to recover a mysterious artifact called the Scion from the lost tomb of Qualopec, in the mountains of Peru.
The player controls Lara as she runs, guns, swims, leaps, and jumps her way through the various level environments presented in the game. Some areas in the game require precise and exact movements in order to proceed past them.
Preliminary work on Tomb Raider commenced in 1993, but it was not until November 1996 that the game actually saw the light of day as a retail product. The title was crafted by Core Design of Derby, England, who took 18 months to develop it. The team consisted of six people, among them Toby Gard, who is credited with the creation of Lara Croft. The character went through several changes before Core settled on the version she became famous for. In its earliest conception, Lara Croft was a male placeholder for an as yet undefined character, but as Core decided that puzzles and stealth should be more important to the game than action, they found that these requirements better suited a female character than a classic male action hero.
Toby Gard initially conceived of Tomb Raider as a mixture between the first-person exploration of Ultima Underworld with the third-person 3D polygon characters of Virtua Fighter. For Lara's character design, he drew influence from films such as Tank Girl, Indiana Jones and John Woo's Hard Boiled. The platforming gameplay was also influenced by the cinematic platformer Prince of Persia, which inspired the game's control scheme.
Lara Croft was originally born under the name "Laura Cruz". As her backstory began to take shape and it was decided that she would become more English and that it would be a major part of who the character was, her first and last names were changed in order to reflect this. According to Toby Gard, the idea to make her more akin to a female Indiana Jones was not present from the beginning. In fact, in early concepts, Lara originally had a cold-blooded militaristic-type personality, but Gard and the team decided to create and play up the "proper English lady" aspect of her character in order to establish that there was more to Lara's personality and life than just her immediate actions during Tomb Raider's gameplay. During some interviews, Toby Gard has also claimed that he changed the character from male to female because he decided that if he had to stare at the character's backside for hours on end while designing and playtesting the game, it might as well be an attractive female backside—although this is assumed to be a joke on the part of Gard, poking fun at the attention Lara was receiving for her sex appeal and had little if any actual sway into the final decision to make Lara a woman.
The front of the Derby Studios building where Core Design worked on the game was later used as the front of Croft Manor. It is Core's contention that the company was struggling somewhat with 32-bit development at that time. The first glints of the game were seen on Sega Saturn development kits. However, while the series would see four more installments on the original PlayStation alone, no additional Tomb Raider games were ever released for the Saturn following the original. Additional Sega ports were released on Dreamcast.
- Blache III, Fabian; Fielder, Lauren (2002), The History of Tomb Raider: Series History, GameSpot, p. 1, http://www.gamespot.com/features/tombraider_hist/p3_01.html, retrieved 31 July 2007
- Boyer, Crispin (August 1997), "Straight to the Core... (interview with Andrew Thompson)", Electronic Gaming Monthly: 94–96
- Sawyer, Miranda (June 1997), "Lara hit in The Face: Article by Miranda Sawyer", The Face, archived from the original on 22 May 2007, http://web.archive.org/web/20070522021325/http://www.cubeit.com/ctimes/news0007b.htm, retrieved 31 July 2007
- Howson, Greg (18 April 2006). "Lara's Creator Speaks". London: Guardian Unlimited. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/gamesblog/2006/apr/18/larascreators1. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
- Kurt Kalata (12 August 2011). Prince of Persia. Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved on 22 June 2012
- Blache, Fabian & Fielder, Lauren, History of Tomb Raider, GameSpot, Accessed Apr 1, 2009
- Sawyer, Miranda (June 1997), "Lara hit in The Face: Interview with Toby Gard", The Face, archived from the original on 18 May 2007, http://web.archive.org/web/20070518144613/http://www.cubeit.com/ctimes/news0007a.htm, retrieved 31 July 2007
- Sawyer, Miranda (June 1997), "Lara hit in The Face", The Face, archived from the original on 9 April 2007, http://web.archive.org/web/20070409071738/http://cubeit.com/ctimes/news0007.htm, retrieved 31 July 2007
- Blache III, Fabian; Fielder, Lauren (2002), The History of Tomb Raider, GameSpot, http://www.gamespot.com/features/tombraider_hist/index.html, retrieved 31 July 2007
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