Tomb Raider IV

Tomb Raider IVBack for more with Tomb Raider IV!

Unintentional rhyme hype!

But also a little bit of hype from the game itself because, and I’m happy to say it, Tomb Raider IV thrilled me in ways that neither Tomb Raider II nor Tomb Raider III managed to do! Who would have thought they were saving this amazing storyline for the fourth game in the series? Why you holding out on me, Lara!

What has me so hyped for this game is the fact that it takes place in Egypt and I think if loyal readers know anything about me, it’s that I love two things on this Earth more than anything else: ghosts and Egypt.

The game is lacking in ghosts, but I can confidently say it delivers Egypt in spades. And I love it, I just love it so much! But we’re not here today just to hear what biases I’m laying down. We’re here for a critical look at Lara’s fourth major adventure with Tomb Raider IV: The Last Revelation.

It’s a dozy, folks. So hold on.

And when I say hold on, I mean hold on like Lara’s driving.

Tomb Raider IV  


The story of Tomb Raider IV begins in 1984 with a sixteen year old Lara and her mentor, a creepy German man named Werner Von Croy. The two are at the Temple of Iris in Angkor Wat. This opening section of the game works as the tutorial to introduce you to all of Lara’s various moves. This is the first game of the series not to include the tutorial as an optional bit of game from the main menu as “Lara’s House”. I miss going to Lara’s stately manor, but having it in game not only fits in all the training in a more natural landscape, it also includes things like how to identify and work around traps, which is admittedly something that the training room in Lara’s house could never do.

Where would she ever get a contractor to build a pit of spikes?

Anyways, back to the story! Lara is sixteen, she’s with an older man who drops some low-key sexual innuendo, and we’re finally getting a little character development from our titular character! Like how she finds a corpse clinging to a backpack in the temple and just decides to take it.  

Tomb Raider IV
She takes the backpack, not the corpse. Thought I should clear that up for you

That’s how she came upon her trademark backpack. She nicked it from a dead guy.

There’s more going on than just some corpse robbing, of course. In between Von Croy both teaching and hitting on an underage girl, the two are making their way through the temple to find the Iris, which is located in a large globe of the earth that’s activated by two separate switches. Von Croy orders Lara to pull one as he pulls the other, and he goes to claim the artifact after the globe opens. Lara warns him it might be dangerous to remove the artifact, but Von Croy doesn’t listen and proves, in definite terms, that he’s an asshole that was using his young ward to his own gains and definitely has no qualms about taking artifacts he thinks he’s entitled to.


Lara was right though. The sudden stirring of the ancient piece of machinery begins to bring the temple down, and Von Croy quickly gets his comeuppance. His leg gets stuck in the giant globe and, while Lara wants to help, she makes the executive decision to escape instead. You know, since the whole temple is coming down around her and most people don’t like to be crushed under huge fucking rocks. The game leaves us to believe that Von Croy is more than likely dead.

Enter the modern day storyline.

It’s December 1999, and Lara and a guide she’s hired are making their way across the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. Lara is interested in gaining access to a particular tomb, that of Set. As in Set, the Egyptian god of deserts, storms, disorder, violence, and evil. He’s a usurper who killed and mutilated his brother Osiris. He’s not a great guy, and his only positive trait is that Ra employed him on his solar boat to repel Apep, the serpent of Chaos. You can imagine that it would be kind of shitty to go poking around the tomb where this violent, powerful deity was put down like a rabid animal and awaken him again by grabbing the artifact that was keeping him contained, unleashing a vast evil on the world and dooming humanity with Armageddon.

So… yeah. Lara ends up unleashing a vast evil on the world and dooming humanity with Armageddon. Unwittingly she does it, but girl still does it.

After escaping her now hostile and gun-toting guide, a sandstorm, and the general shitshow she has just unleashed in the Egyptian desert, she takes her cursed artifact (a golden ankh) to her friend Jean-Yves, who just happens to have some ancient scrolls that are a step-by-step guide on how to re-contain Set. Well, good thing those are still around and in the hands of a trusted friend, otherwise I might just say that Lara was fucked.

Lara’s first stop in her world destruction tour is the Tomb of Semerkhet in Karnak where she needs to collect the armour of Horus and perform a ceremony that will awaken the falcon-headed sky god that originally imprisoned Set. While there, she encounters Set, but he just kind of ignores her. I guess the god of evil has bigger things to plan for than one lone woman in a tank top that can’t possibly be giving her all the boob support she requires.

She runs into Von Croy here as well. She makes a smart remark about his leg (which never fully healed after it got hurt in Cambodia), and shoots her guns at him. He’s not a fan of that and steals the golden ankh that opened this tomb’s main entrance, trapping Lara inside. What’s a girl to do?

Well, she battles the spirit of Semerkhet in a game of Senet (which is literally the worst thing to ever happen in a videogame, oh my god, why would you do this to me!), and she delves further into the tomb and discovers that the ceremony to summon Horus has to happen on the eve of December 31st at his temple when the constellation of Horus’ falcon is at its peak.

Tomb Raider IV

Further still into the underground tomb she discovers a map of Egypt that is the key to continuing her journey. She also points a gun at a dude’s head when she escapes and he mentions that Von Croy is on his way to Alexandria. That’s also a pretty good way to learn objectives, who needs ancient tomb exploration after all?

So Lara jumps onto Von Croy’s train (dude’s got a train, just go with it), kills his henchmen atop the roof of said train while it’s moving, showing that yes, it’s true: Nathan Drake didn’t do a single original thing in his series. I mean, the tomb raiding, the treasure seeking, the guns, the sass, now the moving train sequence? It’s like… did Uncharted do a single original thing or…

Tomb Raider IV
Okay, so Indy technically did it all first, but Lara did it in 32-bit booty shorts so who’s the real hero?

The next part of the story gets pretty complicated. Lara has to find the pieces of Horus’ armour which are scattered throughout catacombs, the remnants of Cleopatra’s palaces, a run-down theme park, temples of Poseidon, Demetrius, and Isis, and the lost Library of Alexandria. While Lara is running between these half a dozen places she fights reanimated skeletons and oh lord do I remember these skeleton fuckers!

When I was a kid, all I played of this game was a demo that came on a disc of demos in the Playstation magazine. I would have been either seven or eight playing the demo of Tomb Raider IV and I was pretty scared of it. These skeletons with swords and shields come at you and they were freakin’ impossible to kill in the demo because you were missing important inventory in which to do it. The only thing that stopped them from coming at you was blasting them over a ledge with a shotgun. I was worried as a kid that this was going to be the full game and I’d have constant, unkillable skeletons on my ass. Turns out, they very are killable! I’ve got three words for you: exploding crossbow bolts.

Anyways, after you explode a bunch of scary skelly-men and find what you’re looking for, Von Croy appears again. He brushes off the coming Armageddon as he sees the amulet, armour, and ceremonial tablet as just more valuable archaeological artifacts to sell.


And then that white dude goes and gets possessed by Set as him and his crew drive to Cairo. As if he wasn’t bad before, now he’s got the god of disorder and evil inside him. Frankly, not a great look for a German man.

Lara has to follow Von Croy’s armada to Cairo because they kidnapped her friend. You know, the one from earlier that just had easy access to what should have been long lost information. Probably don’t want him falling into the wrong hands. And Von Croy is definitely the wrong hands.

In Cairo, Lara has to make her way back and forth across the city battling all sorts of weird shit. There’s a minotaur, giant mutant scarab beetles, a water wraith, zombie crusaders, and a dragon. A three headed dragon. Because she hasn’t been through enough already. She’s also on a motorcycle that has a sidecar during a lot of this though, so at least she’s got that. Oh, and there’s no T-Rexes this time, the first Tomb Raider game to include no dinosaurs whatsoever, so she also has that going for her!

Lara’s what really killed the dinosaurs

After dealing with all that nonsense, Lara confronts Von Croy yet again. Set is still in him and offers Lara immortality and power over life and death. All he asks in return is that she worship him. Lara declines and then, to add insult to injury, steals back the Amulet of Horus.

With the amulet back in her possession, she can end this now.

Oh wait. No she can’t. There’s still shit left to do beforehand because they just crammed the game full! Lara travels real quick to Giza to find four holy scriptures in the Sphinx and then the pyramid of Menkaure to save one last friend, before finally being able to finish her end of the adventure. Girl is gonna need a hell of a break after all this!

Her journey finishes at the pyramid of Khufu where she assembles the holy scriptures, armour, and amulet to summon Horus. Just as Horus is taking physical control of his avatar, Set arrives. He unpossesses Von Croy to take physical form and battles Lara. Surprisingly, because Lara has a bit of an ego let’s be honest, she knows she can’t do battle with a god and instead brings down the underground tomb on his head for all eternity.

On her way out, the structure is crumbling around her and she stumbles. Von Croy is hanging around the entrance and offers his help, but Lara is hesitant to trust the man and… dies.

Tomb Raider IV
Two more games in the original timeline with the heroine dead at the end of game four. An interesting decision to be sure

Yeah. Lara Croft dies at the end of Tomb Raider IV. Or at least is thought to be dead since she falls into a dark pit with a pissed off god at the bottom as a solid rock structure collapses around her. It’s a ballsy way to end a game in a timeline that would go on to have two more games before a hard reboot.

And now, because I need to gush, Tomb Raider IV’s story is amazeballs! Egypt gets me every damn time. I just can’t resist a story that has Egyptian gods, pyramids, mythology, mummies! OH MY GOD DID I EVEN MENTION THE MUMMIES??!

Tomb Raider IV

Because yeah. Mummies. They shamble after you making weird mummy noises and they’re great. I love them. More of them please.

I also love the idea of Lara’s old mentor going rogue. Or is it Lara that goes rogue? Because Von Croy is doing it for the almighty dollar and Lara only plays for sport. Seems like most treasure hunting tomb raiders do it for money, so Lara might be the odd man out. Either way, I love that the two have so much animosity towards each other but they also have a past. It makes the villain/hero angle so much more in-depth than it’s ever been in the past games.

Give me mummies and make it personal. There, the perfect ingredients of a story that will please me to no end!


There are only two characters that matter in Tomb Raider IV and they are Lara Croft and Werner Von Croy.

Tomb Raider IV
Set, emerging from his sarcophagus to say he’s also important but… you’re not, Set. You’re not

Let’s start with Lara, because duh.

We get two different versions of Lara Croft within this game and finally a little bit of character development because of it! We see her cheekiness as a teenager as well as some weariness. She seems like an old soul and I love teenage characters that are wise and not just impulsive little dickholes. The difference between a Jughead and an Archie, really.

Tomb Raider IV
Onto Lara #4, who comes in two distinct flavours!

The sass though, let’s talk about the sass. Lara is 50% boobs and 50% sass. With a 1% margin of error to account for… well, more boobs. The boobs are never not a big deal with PS1 era Lara. So anyways, the sass. At one point in the tutorial level, you (meaning Lara) and Von Croy come upon a fork in the path of the Cambodian temple. The two paths are the Path of the Heretical and Route of the Virtuous. Lara replies to the question of which path to take with either: “I’m up for a little heresy” or “You know me Werner, a regular virtuoso.”

Did Lara… did she just make a virgin joke?

Tomb Raider IV

Listen, I know a virtuoso is someone who’s a genius with music, but Lara doesn’t play any instruments (that I’m aware of). I think the cheeky little sixteen year old was telling us, tongue in cheek, that she’s had some high school sex. Disappointing high school sex if she’s implying she’s a “regular virtuoso” at that.

Lara in this game is also a simple tool user! There are parts of the game that require you track down several pieces of a single object and then combine them to solve a puzzle. Like putting a coat hook on a broom handle so you can reach a set of keys behind bars. You can also combine different weapon elements for different types of ammo. Like poison tipped crossbow bolts, or explosive crossbow bolts which somehow don’t hurt you at all when you fire them at an enemy standing right beside you. I mean, cool, that’s fine, friendly fire is the worst.

A small problem I have with Tomb Raider IV is Lara’s voice actress, Jonell Elliott. She sounds just a little too sexual when she gets hurt. Like she’s thoroughly enjoying it. Which I’m not kink shaming. I’m just saying that if getting shot is what gives you your jollies, you’re not going to get very many jollies throughout your lifetime. Maybe just consider some spanking? Perhaps some consensual choking?

Tomb Raider IV
Was it good for you?

I also have some confusion with Lara’s backstory here in game number four. Does anyone else think it’s weird that she’s got a tomb raiding mentor at sixteen but Lara’s original back story (way back when in the instruction manual of Tomb Raider) had her as a high society babe that survived a plane crash and became interested in survival after that fateful encounter? And it’s not like this is a shift in timelines either, because all the PS1 games and Angel of Darkness are all considered to be the same Lara on the same timeline.

So like, what the hell game programmers? You have all the time in the world to make her busty as fuck but not enough to keep a continuity in her past?

Tomb Raider IV
Maybe her boobs aren’t changing much in size in-game, but don’t worry, her shirt is lower cut to compensate

Anyways, moving onto Werner Von Croy. Von Croy is a name you’ll hear a few more times throughout the original timeline of Tomb Raider, but he made his first appearance here in Tomb Raider IV. He’s a German man with some less than scrupulous archeology practices; but then again, don’t they all *cough cough* Heinrich Schliemann you were a fraud of a historian that destroyed Troy and I’ll never forgive you for it *cough*.

Von Croy is an asshole right from the start, making creepy passes at sixteen year old Lara and refusing to acknowledge the sanctity of ancient peoples and what they left behind. I mean, a German man ready to pillage culture for his own gain? Dude, that’s not a good look for a German man *cough cough* Nazis stole countless works of art from around the world as they went on their World War rampage *cough*.

Honestly though, Von Croy has been my favourite villain of these early games and he’s just such a great villain in general. The entitlement of his character, the grey areas of what’s archeology and what’s stealing for personal profit, the goddamn linen suit that he wears to raid a jungle tomb, like that alone screams that he is not to be trusted and will sooner or later become the villain! And then when he does become the villain and is possessed by Set? Dude is legitimately creepy as fuck with his possessed red eyes.

Tomb Raider IV
Still wearing linen suits too. True villain.


Like all Tomb Raider games that have come after the original, the core gameplay remains more or less completely the same. Lara needs to find some artifacts, she does so by jumping, climbing, exploring, and gunning people down without a care in the world. She’s had some improvements to her skill set throughout each game, but the girl is still a tank and getting around levels is sometimes a serious chore, four years after the original game came out.

Where are the gameplay improvements going if not to making Lara a little easier to get from point A to point B?

Mostly shallow add-ons if I’m going to be honest. Along with being able to do everything that was added on in past games (flares, ladders, sprinting), Lara can now climb specific rock walls, swing on ropes, crouch to pull herself up into small crevices, and, the biggest change of all that I mentioned above, put together several objects to create new ones.

I’m not gonna lie, that explosives shooting crossbow is enough to make my concerns about the rest of the unchanging gameplay null and void! As is the rather intriguing addition of making Lara a more solid part of her surroundings. One part really stands out for this and it’s when she has to put a trident head back on the statue it belongs on. The statue is much taller than Lara so she has to climb it to put in its missing piece. It’s nice to see Lara doing more in her environment than just pulling down a wall mounted switch to open or close a door.

Not that there isn’t plenty of that as well. Because there is. It’s like I said above, core gameplay is stuck almost exactly where it began.

That includes how unintuitive some of the puzzles are. Each Tomb Raider game clocks in at a very reasonable length for a PS1 game, and that’s even if you know exactly where you’re going. If you have no idea and are just working it out as you go, the gameplay time length of goes from reasonable to infinity because sometimes you get nothing in terms of goals or destination.

Tomb Raider IV is no different. There’s one level that requires you stick your arms into holes in the wall that blow out fire. Why and how would I ever think to myself to do that? Fire holes + sticking limbs in them = bad! Very bad! 0/10 would not do again! And oh my god the Senet game against the spirit of Semerkhet?? Fuck that particular level, fuck all levels like this across all of videogaming, this is cruel and unusual punishment and I have rights, damnit! You have to just roll a dice (or a close approximation of it in the game) and then step on coloured floor tiles to move pieces and literally hope for the best. If you don’t know how to play Senet just think Sorry but with a smaller board. Knocking off the other side’s pieces and getting all yours home is key.

Tomb Raider IV
Fuck you, Semerkhet! You first dynasty bastard! How dare you make me play a game of chance in a videogame!

Two closing notes on the gameplay of Tomb Raider IV, the save system is back to a save any time deal and I honestly think this is what works best for Lara and her habit of accidentally back flipping off cliffs or getting mauled by lions. I’m sure gamers thought this was too easy when it first came out, but if you don’t like it, don’t use it? Just don’t save and make it harder on yourself for no reason whatsoever! You know, the gamer’s code!

Second note, the tutorial is no longer an optional experience from the main menu, it’s built right into the first level of the game. Von Croy tells you how to do everything, sixteen year old Lara makes a smart comment, and then rinse and repeat for all the stuff you need to know to control Lara with minimal pain and suffering on your end. It is still Lara though, so expect some pain and suffering when trying to make a delicate jump. I thought I’d be more upset to see the countryside manor tutorial disappear but this does admittedly work better and more naturally within the narrative. I’m neutral to the tutorial.

What a meaningless statement.


Aside from the tutorial level where Lara is sixteen and hanging with Von Croy in Cambodia, the whole of Tomb Raider IV takes place in Egypt. That’s a huge departure from Lara’s usual globetrotting escapades, but it’s Egypt, so no complaints from me! The sand, the pyramids, the hieroglyphics, the mummies, the mythology–just liquefy it and put it straight into my bloodstream because I am addicted and am not looking to detox!

I wish the whole game could have taken place in ancient Egypt proper, meaning sandstone walls carved with hieroglyphics. When you go to Cleopatra’s palace and have to deal with Greek/Roman infused Egypt? That’s not my scene, that’s not anyone’s scene, why would you ever choose Roman looking architecture over Egyptian?

Tomb Raider IV
Get your pillars and tiles outta my face, Rome!

I also really love the tutorial level as I’ve got a thing for jungle covered ruins too, and Angkor Wat is just beautiful no matter what, so of course I was going to be all about the backgrounds of the tutorial! Seeing Angkor Wat’s spires overtop the ruins you’re making your way through is honestly just so great.

The backgrounds in general deserve special praise because we’re actually getting some in-game distances this time around. They’re nothing super detailed, and are in fact superimposed images of things like the main body of Angkor Wat’s temple system or cliffs around a valley in Egypt. They’re the perfect way of establishing your location and offer a vivid splash of beautiful colours where the actual textures and objects in the game may not be able too.

Tomb Raider IV


So here we are on our fourth Tomb Raider game and, as you can imagine, Tomb Raider IV is the best the series has ever looked. But at the same time there are still some glaring issues. Now, to be fair, these issues can still persist in modern videogames, but I just couldn’t help but notice them here. Like how the effects on Lara’s hair just has it going wherever the fuck it wants in the in-game cutscenes. C’mon guys, it’s just hair, it does not have a mind of its own and if you can’t figure out wind, don’t have windy cutscenes. It’s simple. Also, Lara has some serious solid object issues. There’s a part where she’s pushing giant wall buttons and she goes into them. Just right into them. Is she… is she a ghost? Oh shit, did she make a jump she wasn’t supposed to and die?!?

Tomb Raider II 

Oh man. New headcanon forming as I type this!

I’m also just a touch upset about how sexaulized Lara is in this game. She’s always had two particularly huge assets, but my god are they ever on display during the cinematic cutscenes of Tomb Raider IV. Two watermelons down her tank top, which is lower cut than it’s been in the past by the way, and the tiniest little waist you’re ever going to see. How the fuck does she get around without snapping in half?? And why, oh why does the camera have to get so close to her ass when she’s crawling? I can’t imagine anyone on Earth being excited by 32-bit booty, so maybe just don’t do it? Especially when she’s sixteen years old in game?

Tomb Raider IV

Then there’s the fact that some cinematic cutscenes have Lara face to face with men, and the men look like men, but Lara looks like a doll. Implying that yes, they know how to program a realistic human face but no they won’t be doing it for the main character because Barbie doll proportions are what gamers want!

Tomb Raider IV

Listen, I know she’s a fictional character, but still. There are more anthropomorphic animal videogame main characters than female videogame main characters, so maybe don’t sexualize the shit out of the few we get? K thx.

And just so you don’t think I only complain, I have some good things to mention too! Though I know most of my audience comes for the salt I leave in heaps everywhere I go.

Lara continues to interact more and more with her environment. She drips when she climbs out of water, her guns spit out spent bullet casings, and if she’s running on a smooth surface she’ll slide a little with a sudden halt. I love the little details like that in videogames! They bring it all together into something that feels like the character is having an impact on the environment.

Tomb Raider IV has stepped up its cinematography game. We’re getting some wide angles, some sweeping shots of locations; they’re nice to see after the more straight forward “here is some information” way that cutscenes have been delivered in the past games. We’re also getting a lot of in-game scale that I don’t think has really been seen since the first game’s pull back on the secret, underground Sphinx. You really get a sense that Lara is small within these new areas she visits and adventure games just seem to have more of a punch when you succeed despite knowing just how small you are. Though, and this goes with the cinematography, the camera and the random angles it decides to switch to without warning will more than likely fuck you up in one or two spots.    

Also! This is big! Mouths finally move in the in-game cutscenes! No longer do the characters have a fixed, rock solid expression with an overactive bobblehead feature to make it seem like they’re talking! It’s been three games coming, guys, I’m happy to finally see mouths move!


Tomb Raider IV’s soundtrack is the first of three composed by Peter Connelly. If you recall from my previous three retrospectives, Nathan McCree did the music for games one through three and I was crazy for it. It was sparse and atmospheric and just so good!

In comparison, Connelly’s first soundtrack is actually a pretty good facsimile. This is a very short soundtrack, coming in at only twenty-six minutes for its thirty-nine tracks. It’s reminiscent of Tomb Raider’s original score which clocks in at twenty-one minutes long for a game that can stretch into double digits of playtime.

While Tomb Raider IV’s soundtrack looks to emulate the short bursts of music from the first game, the type of music has an entirely different feel. I personally think it’s still a louder, more urgent soundtrack than what’s come before. I think it fits for the louder, more urgent feel of this game, but it is very hectic feeling at times. But also pretty rocking because this the soundtrack that gave us “Jeep Thrills Max”.

Like “Lara Plays in the Snow” from Tomb Raider II, “Jeep Thrills Max” is a seriously bangin’ tune!

I’d also like to give this game’s opening theme a shout-out because, like past games, it’s a slightly tweaked version of the original game’s opening theme, but Tomb Raider IV goes all out and creates what has been the grandest version of the original opening theme so far. It’s a very loose remake of it, but the hints of the original are still there, tying this franchise altogether very nicely

It’s funny how the word revelation is right there in the title and yet it feels like so little has changed from game one to game four. Tomb Raider IV: The Last Revelation is presented cinematically, and the graphics are the best they’ve been, but with only minor tweaks here and there to the core gameplay, it’s hard to judge the game on its own merits.

I will say though, on a personal level, this is my second favourite of the PS1 era. I love the story of Set being released to plague mankind again and Lara having to traverse deadly minefields of ancient Egyptian booby traps and an old acquaintance to stop it. And I just love Egypt so much! Yes, my bias made me see this game through some slightly rose-tinted glasses, but this is still a great story regardless of if anything else has really changed over the years.

Tomb Raider V: Chronicles is next. I have zero idea what this last PS1 Tomb Raider game will be like. Will 32-bit Lara go out with a bang or a fizzle?

Tomb Raider IV


Amelia Wellman
I read, I write, I play videogames, Ghostbusters is my favourite thing in the known universe, but quasars come in at a close second. I've been known to cry at the drop of a hat over happy and sad things alike. I've also been known to fly into a rage if things don't go my way, leading to many a fight in high school and breaking someone's nose on the TTC one time. I'm an anxious introvert but also a loud-mouthed bad influence. Especially on my cat. He learned it from watching me, okay!

Leave a Reply