Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
It’s probably the case that most people’s favourite Tomb Raider is the first one they played. Unless it was Angel Of Darkness. Mine was Tomb Raider II, so it’s always the one I think of the most fondly.
I think the series contains many splendid games. Even when the press and players were getting fatigued with the series, Core were still producing superb action games. Tomb Raider Chronicles (the fifth) was still completely ace, before things went horribly wrong with the sixth game. And of course Crystal Dynamics’ first three outings with the license were fantastic too. But – to give it its full ridiculous title – Tomb Raider II Starring Lara Croft is the one that introduced me to Lara, to meticulous handstands, and most of all, her no-nonsense declaration of “No!” when trying a lock I couldn’t open.
Okay, most of all the wonderful platforming obstacle course. From China to Tibet, via Venice, and an oil rig, it’s packed with memorable scenes and locations, and some really great use of early 3DFX graphics. Going back to the very first Tomb Raider is trickier now, with Lara seemingly made of five triangles. But II made such huge improvements, that the cartoonish look still works today.
A strange phenomenon of those first few Tomb Raiders was the best way I found to control them. It was a gamepad in my right hand, my left hand on the cursor keys. I’ve never played any other game like that, but couldn’t play Tomb Raider any other way. It will always be my favourite, even though I know Legend and Chronicles are both better games.