A graphic with a render of Lara Croft jumping middair with her pistols drawn, the background is a collage of Lara in different poses
05.03.2021

Franchise Feature: The Moves

“It’s just like going up a set of stairs, only far less boring…” – Lara Croft, Tomb Raider: Legend

With Croft Manor’s extensive facilities at her disposal, it’s no wonder that Lara has honed her gymnastic skills to Olympian levels. From conception, Lara Croft was created with athleticism in mind, outfitted in a leotard, long braid, and utilitarian boots. Over time Lara’s skills waxed and waned, changing as new mechanics diversified her abilities, and, conversely, when the reboot traded showmanship for scrappy combat & grounded traversal.

In the early Core Design games, walking, running, jumping, and shimmying were all staples of traversal, while Lara’s flips, handstands, and swan dives added stylistic flourish. Lara’s impressive athletic abilities were then taken to the next level in the Legend, Anniversary, and Underworld trilogy. The player could string together multiple moves in flashy combos. Much of the believability in Lara’s Underworld performance came from the use of motion capture, in which Olympic gymnast Heidi Moneymaker stepped into Lara’s boots.  

The Tomb Raider reboot in 2013 saw Lara’s moves streamlined to compliment the more grounded storyline. While still very physically capable, she was designed to feel more like an underdog, making her successes that much more impressive. 

Check out some of Lara’s most iconic moves below. 

A banner with the Tomb Raider logo and various Renders of Lara Croft poses
  • Swan Dive: The Swan Dive is all style, which is part of the charm. Performing the move on dry land from standstill was also great for avoiding traps –  in particular darts.  In Tomb Raider II, Lara could somersault mid-dive if performed from a high enough platform. 
  • Handstand: Another move that was more style than substance, The Handstand actually took several seconds to perform, showcasing the strength and control Lara had harnessed.
A Graphic with Lara doing the handstand pose
  • The Full Roster: Walk, Run, Side Step, Roll, Jump, Vault, Climb (Blocks), Shimmy, Handstand, Push, Pull, Swan Dive, Swim, Shoot
A banner with the Tomb Raider II logo and various Renders of Lara Croft poses
  • Flip: A small but meaningful addition, this flip allowed Lara to change her orientation mid-jump. In particular this was useful for traversal, where she could jump from a climbable surface, twist, and catch a ledge behind her. 
  • Underwater Roll: Another ability worth mentioning was the addition of the underwater roll, allowing Lara to quickly change direction; especially helpful in long dives that had Lara short on breath.  
  • The Full Roster: Walk, Run, Side Step, Roll, Jump, Flip, Vault, Climb (Blocks, Ladders), Shimmy, Handstand, Push, Pull, Swan Dive, Swim, Shoot
A banner with the Tomb Raider III logo and various Renders of Lara Croft poses
  • Sprint: The addition of the sprint added a new degree of challenge to timed puzzles. 
  • Crawl: New to Tomb Raider III, crawling allowed Lara to access areas previously out of reach. 
  • Monkey Swing: Opening up more traversal paths, the Monkey Swing let Lara span gaps when bridges were absent. 
  • The Full Roster: Crawl, Walk, Run, Sprint, Side Step, Roll, Dive Roll, Jump, Flip, Vault, Climb (Blocks, Ladders, Lattice), Shimmy, Handstand, Monkey Swing, Push, Pull, Swan Dive, Swim, Shoot
A banner with the Tomb Raider IV logo and various Renders of Lara Croft poses
  • Dive Roll: First introduced in TR III, the dive roll was put to use regularly in The Last Revelation, combining two moves into one for timed challenges. By using it Lara could breach a sliver of space with only a moment to spare. 
  • Rope Swing: Ropes provided dozens of new opportunities to dangle just above harm’s way, where Lara could build up momentum to reach nearby platforms. 
  • Shimmy: An essential traversal technique, The Last Revelation introduced Shimmying around corners. 
  • The Full Roster: Crawl, Walk, Run, Sprint, Side Step, Roll, Dive Roll, Jump, Flip, Vault, Climb (Ladder, Pole, Rope), Shimmy, Handstand, Monkey Swing, Rope Swing, Push, Pull, Swan Dive, Swim, Shoot 
A banner with the Tomb Raider Chronicles logo and various Renders of Lara Croft poses
  • Tightrope Walk: Showing off her superior balance skills, the tightrope walk was another means for Lara to span large gaps.
  • Bar Swing: Swinging from parallel bars, this was another new traversal technique that kept Lara off the ground. 
  • The Full Roster: Crawl, Walk, Tightrope Walk, Run, Sprint, Side Step, Roll, Jump, Flip, Vault, Climb (Ladder, Pole, Rope), Rope Swing, Bar Swing, Shimmy, Handstand, Monkey Swing, Push, Pull, Swan Dive, Swim, Shoot 
A banner with the Tomb Raider Angel of Darkness logo and various Renders of Lara Croft poses
  • Stealth: Angel of Darkness introduced a variety of stealth moves to Lara’s repertoire, including the ability to walk silently, wall hug, and peer around corners. 
A graphic of Lara doing a stealth takedown animation
  • Melee: Stealth also allowed Lara to get the best on unsuspecting foes, and Lara could punch and kick when in close quarters. 
  • The Full Roster: Stealth, Commando Crawl, Crawl, Walk, Run, Sprint, Side Step, Roll, Hop, Jump, Flip, Vault, Climb (Ladder, Drain Pipe), Shimmy, Handstand, Monkey Swing, Push, Pull, Swan Dive, Swim, Shoot, Punch, Kick 
  • Grapple Swing: Lara’s new magnetic grapple tool opened traversal paths in gaps too far to jump, using her momentum to reach new spaces. 
  • Flip, Cartwheel, and Handspring: The epitome of slick and stylish, chaining together a series of acrobatic moves often proved faster than running. 
  • The Full Roster: Walk/Sneak, Balance, Run, Roll, Jump, Flip, Cartwheel, Handspring, Handstand, Vault, Climb (Ladders, Poles, Ropes), Shimmy, Bar Swing, Grapple Swing, Push, Pull, Swan Dive, Swim, Shoot, Slide Attack, Aerial Attack, Power Kick
A banner with the Tomb Raider Anniversary logo and various Renders of Lara Croft poses
  • Wall Run: After anchoring onto a wall grapple point, Lara could run back and forth, gaining enough momentum leap to nearby platforms. 
A graphic with Lara doing a run and rope grapple animation
  • The Full Roster: Walk/Sneak, Balance, Run, Roll, Jump, Flip, Handstand, Cartwheel, Handspring, Vault, Climb (Ladders, Poles, Chains, Ropes), Shimmy, Grapple Swing, Wall Run, Bar Swing, Push, Pull, Swan Dive, Swim, Shoot, Slide Attack, Aerial Attack, Power Kick
A banner with the Tomb Raider Underworld logo and various Renders of Lara Croft poses
  • Chimney Jump: A chain of jumps used in tight spaces, the Chimney Jump let Lara grab ledges otherwise out of reach. 
  • Rappel: An extension of the grapple functionality, Lara could rappel up or down walls as needed. 
  • Lara's Shadow: Lara’s dark doppelganger had a fresh set of moves in Underworld’s DLC, able to use her “shadow power” to quickly traverse tricky rock faces and combine melee moves in a “shadow strike.” 
  • The Full Roster: Walk/Sneak, Balance Beam, Run, Roll, Jump, Chimney Jump, Flip, Handstand, Cartwheel, Handspring, Vault, Climb (Ladders, Poles, Chains, Ropes), Shimmy, Grapple Swing, Wall Run, Rappel, Bar Swing, Push, Pull, Swan Dive, Swim, Shoot, Slide Attack, Aerial Attack, Power Kick
A banner with the Tomb Raider logo and various Renders of Lara Croft poses
  • Wall Scramble: A double jump of sorts, Lara could scramble up surfaces to reach ledges just out of arm’s reach. 
  • The Full Roster: Stealth (automatic), Walk, Balance Beam, Run, Jump, Vault, Wall Scramble, Roll, Climb (Walls w/Axe, Ladders), Shimmy, Wade, Shoot, Melee (Finishers)
A banner with the Rise of the Tomb Raider logo and various Renders of Lara Croft poses
  • Tree Climb: Using knobs and branches for leverage, Lara could climb and perch in trees to get the drop on enemies or reach new traversal paths. 
An image of Lara Croft climbing a tree.
  • The Full Roster: Stealth (automatic, Tall Grass), Walk, Balance Beam,  Run, Sprint, Jump, Vault, Wall Scramble, Roll, Climb (Walls w/Axes, Ladders, Trees), Shimmy, Dive, Swim, Melee (Finishers), Shoot
A banner with the Shadow of the Tomb Raider logo and various Renders of Lara Croft poses
  • Camouflage: To become one with the Jungle, Lara improved her camouflage techniques by covering herself from head to toe in mud, which would lower the chances of enemies spotting her as she moved throughout open spaces. She could also strafe along vine walls to stealthy attack from the shadows.
  • Rappelling: Adding even more verticality to traversal, Lara’s climbing axes evolved to allow her to repel up or down cliff faces.
  • Underwater Swimming: Shadow of the Tomb Raider greatly improved Lara’s underwater traversal, allowing Lara to descend and ascend, interact with her surroundings, fend off wildlife, and find pockets of air to prolong her swim time. Underwater puzzles returned as well.

The Full Roster: Stealth (Tall Grass, Vine Walls, Mud Camouflage), Walk, Balance Beam,  Run, Sprint, Jump, Vault, Wall Scramble, Roll, Climb (Walls w/Axes, Ladders, Trees), Shimmy, Dive, Swim, Melee (Finishers), Shoot, Rappel


 Illustrations by Daz Tibbles for 20 Years of Tomb Raider. 

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