Tomb Raider 1 Review

Tomb Raider 1 was considered one of the best games of its day. It was the launch title for a series that has lasted over two decades and generated a long list of fans and titles that players continue to enjoy on modern systems. The intention of this Tomb Raider review is to give players who may not be familiar with the title an unbiased and thorough review of the key aspects of the game.

While the game is not free, players will actually be able to enjoy the complete game without the hassle of pay gates or micro-transactions that plague the mobile market. For less than a dollar, players can get access to the entire title and enjoy it on the go.

It remains a worthy member of the franchise and a solid and enjoyable action/exploration experience for mobile. This Tomb Raider review will focus primarily on the game’s ports to mobile devices, although Tomb Raider 1 was originally published for Sega Saturn and has been ported to a variety of platforms including PC and PlayStation.

Type of Game: action 3rd person shooter, exploration
Developer: Core Design, Aspyr, Ideaworks Game Studios
Platform iOS, Android, PlayStation, PC
iTunes Page Download page
Google Play Page Download page
Free: No

Your Mission

This debut to the Tomb Raider series features heroine Lara Croft on her first adventure. Becoming bored with her upper-class English lifestyle, Lara decides that hunting after mysterious and mystical artifacts is more her style.

Related: Tomb Raider Walkthrough

She is hired by a wealthy treasure hunter who sends her on a hunt for ancient relics. This leads her to strange places all across the globe. As Lara, your job is to recover the artifacts and solve the greater mystery behind them and your traitorous benefactor.

Design and Graphics

This Tomb Raider review firstly looks at the game’s graphics. And those graphics are certainly nothing to brag to your friends about. Textures have relatively low resolutions and the most noticeable flaws are the sharp contrasts and lack of good blending when one texture flows into another in the environment.

Most ports have done little to improve the graphic’s quality. However, colors do look richer in the mobile operating system compared to other ports, and higher quality displays naturally help the game’s appearance somewhat. Graphics haven’t been messed with among any of the ports. As such, players are likely to find little distinguishable difference whether they play on mobile, console or PC.

Level and overall game design for Tomb Raider 1 is pretty decent, even for a game that is over 10 years old. Doubtless, modern Tomb Raider titles are full of improvements and variations that players will miss if they go back to the original. Most levels are open, with branching paths and opportunities for exploration and puzzle solving, but the game is still very basic by comparison.

The game has a balanced action and exploration focus. It certainly doesn’t deliver the same spectacular combat sequences or AI as modern titles. Shooting mechanics are basically a point and button press system that will seem simplistic even for a mobile game, but it gets the job done.

The game’s controls were tedious even in the original. And the touch controls suffer from many of the same problems: the need to face a particular direction before being able to walk in that direction, and only being able to shoot at the enemy the player is facing directly. As long as players play the game understanding that it’s based on an archaic control scheme, they won’t be disappointed.

Main Characters

As with most Tomb Raider titles, Lara Croft takes front and center stage in the first Tomb Raider. There are some modern titles that put forth an effort to bring more character and emotion to the legendary Lara Croft. But the original title focused almost solely on her badass toughness, stellar marksmanship, gravity-defying acrobatics, and cleverness. Surely, these traits would make Indiana Jones blush.

The game originally took some flak in an early Tomb Raider review for how it portrayed the Lara Croft character visually, with her proportions definitely meant to appeal to a male audience. Compared to most other modern titles, however, players probably won’t even notice this.

The game does have some basic cinematic and story sequences to help flesh out the characters. Sadly, it will not provide the level of intimacy found in some of the more modern titles. Lara will remain pretty one-dimensional throughout the game. Thus, she will play out her role of monster killing treasure hunter from beginning to end.

Of course, that’s pretty much what all the Tomb Raider titles have been about. Players of the series are going to get what they’re expecting if they have played any Tomb Raider game before. They just aren’t likely to find anything new or interesting. Fans who may have missed the older games may learn a little about how Lara Croft got started. However, several modern games, such as Rise of the Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider, have already delved into the character’s backstory.


Story content is one area where the modern games have probably made some welcome advancements. In fact, Tomb Raider 1 was originally applauded for being one of the only such action games of its time to feature any kind of decent story.

It is noticeable, however, that this was the game that launched a formula that has remained popular to players for over a generation. It features the classic mix of dungeon delving, mystery, relic hunting and bad-guy bashing. This is the hallmark of all the games that came after it. None of this content has been toned down or cut in any of the ports. So players get the full story experience.

Older games tended to be more liberal in their settings. And Tomb Raider 1 will have players traipsing all over the globe in search of a set of mysterious artifacts. These include snowy mountain tombs, desert pyramids and ruins and even a visit to the lost city of Atlantis. It is true that the game may lack in graphical depth compared to modern games. But it makes up for in its widely-varied level settings. And also its environments that work to enhance the story as much as the visuals.

Final Thoughts

Despite its age, Tomb Raider 1 proves itself as a title worthy of the popular series it began. Although its many outdated elements may require an adjustment from modern players, the content underneath is well worth the adjustment. Fans of the series will be able to experience the start of it all. Newcomers will be able to enjoy a long-standing classic, perhaps as a gateway to some of the modern titles.

Do you have thoughts or comments on this Tomb Raider review? Have you played the game or have other insights to share with new players? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments.

Of course, if you think that this game is not for you, here is our Need for Speed: No Limits review. Let us know what you think!

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