There’s almost a checklist you can go through to confirm whether a video game character has attained true mainstream breakthrough status. As a starting point, there should be a range of video games starring that character available for players – ideally spanning multiple eras, and appearing on multiple platforms. Then, the character should have made the crossover into action figures and other toys. From there, the next logical step is to ‘break out’ of the gaming world into your own television show, or live action movie. In more recent years, there’s been another step on the ladder to go with all of the above – making a splash in the world of online casinos and All Sister Sites. Lara Croft was already on that list, but now she’s making a return to the format years after her debut.
We’re not for a second suggesting that Lara wasn’t already a legend in her own right – of course she is. Despite not being real, she’s the most famous tomb raider the world has ever seen (with the possible exception of Howard Carter, who uncovered the famous tomb of Tutankhamun). Ever since she made her debut on the first PlayStation console back in 1996, she’s been a pop culture icon. No video game characters than Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario can claim to be better known, and it could be argued that in recent years she’s surpassed even them – although the forthcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie might switch up the scales in that respect. It’s just a testament to the popularity of the character that now – more than twenty years since she first put in an appearance – she’s still being used as the face of new attractions.
Lara Croft: Casino Raider
As we mentioned earlier, Lara isn’t a newcomer to casino land. The first-ever Tomb Raider slot game was launched all the way back in 2006, a mere ten years after the original game was launched. A follow up was released two years later, and enjoyed similar popularity to the first release. It’s not uncommon for very popular video games to make it to online casinos – Street Fighter, Call of Duty, and Resident Evil have all made the jump across – but usually, the casino games are released at or around the same time as new games. That isn’t the case with Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs, which was released in May 2019 by a company called Triple Edge Gaming. While it’s true that there was a brand new Tomb Raider film released in 2018, there’s no direct connection between that film and the slot game. This is a completely different product, relying solely on the idea that players will be familiar with Lara in order to persuade them to spend money on it.
It speaks volumes about the allure and appeal of Lara Croft that she’d be used in such a way. Casino companies don’t tend to take chances when they’re using a theme to attract players – developing new games costs money, and online casinos are a fiercely competitive market where only popular ideas are going to attract big spending. By choosing to go with Lara Croft, the gaming company is deciding that she has more of a unique appeal than many real celebrities and movie stars.
But Is It Actually Worth Playing?
Making a game that’s based around Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider franchise, but not taking any direct inspiration from any of the official video games or films, is something of a risk. There are three ‘faces’ of Lara that players know her by; the blocky polygons of the 1990s games, the first pair of movies starring Angelina Jolie, and the more recent film which starred Alicia Vikander (which was recently confirmed as having a sequel in the works). Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs doesn’t base its interpretation of Lara on any of those portrayals. It’s an original creation that belongs to the same universe, but has its own identity.
As a starting point to answering the question of whether it’s worth playing, we should first reiterate the point that it’s an online casino game. If you’re looking for full-on video game action with multiple levels and challenges, you won’t find it here. That’s what the ten-plus games which already star Lara are for. Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs is all about trying to win money with Lara’s on-screen assistance as she breaks a tomb open for you. If you’re not interested in online casinos or playing online slot games, we’re not trying to talk you into it. If it’s already among your hobbies, though, then the game is a real delight for Tomb Raider fans.
For a start, it’s very good looking (just as any game starring Lara would have to be by default). All the visuals on the screen have been beautifully rendered, and so graphically it looks better than all but the most recent of her video game outings. It’s also, by casino game standards, packed full of features. There’s a nice multiplier mode, wherein stringing ‘collapsing wins’ together multiples the value of your consecutive wins by one each time a winning combination is found. There’s a jackpot feature – which feels a little like a treasure hunt all of your very own – and a ‘free spins’ round where you basically get to play the game for free. You might find several of these features in other casino games you’ve played, but not with such an interesting theme!
When Eidos first conceived the idea of Lara twenty-three years ago, we very much doubt they foresaw the epic future she was going to have. They probably believed that they’d hit upon a neat attraction for a game, but probably no more than that. The reality is that they’d brought the world an icon who would survive from one gaming generation to the next, crossing from one medium to another, and one platform to the next, and continually improving along the way. Lara Croft has been raiding virtual tombs for longer than many of our readers have been alive, and yet somehow she’s never looked better, or been a bigger deal.
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