Classic Tomb Raider Tips and Strategy · Part 2

IMPORTANT: The material in this section pertains only to Tomb Raiders 1 through 5. Angel of Darkness  and the newer games are built using different engines and thus require different approaches. See the specific controls and walkthrough pages for them.

Combat: Choosing & Using Weapons

In classic Tomb Raider combat two basic rules apply: Pick the right weapon for the job and conserve ammunition.

Early in the game, you probably won't have much choice—pistols, maybe a shotgun. Later, you'll have a variety of weapons at your disposal so you'll need to set some priorities. You may be tempted to use your high-powered weapons as soon as you find them, but remember that the enemies in the later levels are bigger and tougher. Also, certain enemies can be taken out more easily with certain weapons. I've provided some general tips below and a few case-by-case recommendations in the walkthroughs for each level. You'll undoubtedly come up with your own methods.

Shooting an enemy from a safe ledge in Tomb Raider 2

SHOOTING FISH (OR WHATEVER) IN A BARREL. Most Tomb Raider enemies can't climb. So creatures on the ground can't reach you if you climb on a block or ledge. Similarly, most creatures in the water can't move on land, and vice versa. So get Lara to a spot where her enemies can't go, then use the pistols, which have unlimited ammunition, to make the kill.

Naturally there are few exceptions. Obviously if someone or something is shooting at Lara, pick a more powerful weapon to fight back. Also, human foes can shoot at Lara when she's in the water, so you'll have to come out to finish them off.

USING LARA AS BAIT. If you suspect there are enemies below but they haven't come out yet, you can make Lara drop and hang to draw them out. This is the same as the safety-drop move, only you don't let go. Instead, hang until the enemies emerge, then pull up and take care of business. This works with water dwellers like crocodiles and barracudas too. Take a quick swim to get their attention. Then climb out of the water to shoot them.

Pierre Dupont, the Frenchman who wouldn't die

HANDLING HUMAN ENEMIES. In TR1, there are times when the human adversaries won't die no matter how much you shoot at them. Pierre Dupont can't be killed until the end of the Tomb of Tihocan, and Larson won't die until the end of the Sanctuary of Scion. So when you meet these guys earlier in the game, shoot with pistols until they run off or a cut scene starts. In Natla's Mines, however, you'll need to dispatch some human foes quickly, so go ahead and use the best weapons you have.

In TR2, all the human foes can be beaten. I've found pistols or automatic pistols to be the weapon of choice except when fighting heavily armed or multiple attackers. In the water levels of TR2 and 3, the scuba divers can be taken out in the water with the harpoon gun, but it can be difficult to aim, and the slow reload time doesn't help. For divers and other underwater enemies, it's often easier to get Lara to dry land as quickly as possible then use the pistols.

Barkhang brothers in Tomb Raider 2

Also in TR2, you'll have a chance to make a few friends or at least avoid making enemies. In the Barkhang Monastery level, do not  shoot at the monks. If you do, they'll dog you through the entire level, making things much more difficult than necessary. If you treat them with respect, they'll even help you fight the cult goons. Likewise the ice men in the Golden Mask expansion: They'll help Lara if she doesn't harass them. There are also places in TR3 where holding your fire will help you advance in the game. The walkthrough describes them.

Last Revelation mummies. Kill them with fire!

WEAPONS AND TARGETING IN TR4 & 5. Lara's arsenal increases in every game, but in The Last Revelation  and Chronicles,  there are even more options. Some weapons can be combined with the laser sight for more accurate long-distance targeting, and some can use different types of ammunition. Details on combining items and choosing ammo appear on the TR4 and TR5 controls pages, along with information on automatic and manual targeting.

UNDEAD CREATURES IN TR4. Early in this game there are some enemies that won't die no matter what. In most cases, it's because they're already dead (e.g., mummies). So don't waste precious time and ammo blasting away at something that won't go down permanently. If you can't figure out how to get around these nasties, check the walkthrough. (If you are playing through a second time or have used the all-weapons cheat, you can destroy mummies and the like with explosive weapons.)

Some screenshots courtesy of Katie's Tomb Raider Site.

Classic Tomb Raider Weapon Profiles



Pistols (all games)

Not too powerful but have unlimited ammo. Can aim while running and jumping. In TR 1-3, once you get a target lock on an enemy, holding Action will keep the lock even if the enemy moves out of Lara's sight. When the enemy comes back into range, she'll start shooting again. Remember to release Action to target another enemy. Firing pistols can also be used to shed a little light if flares aren't available.

Shotgun (all games)

Powerful but slow to reload and hard to aim while moving. Best for unarmed enemies at close range (e.g., 2 shots will bring down a big cat).

In TR4 & 5, the shotgun can be used with either normal or wideshot ammo. (See Inventory & Targeting on the TR4 or TR5 Controls pages.)

Magnums (TR1) or
Automatic Pistols (TR2)

Similar to pistols only with a slightly faster output. Like the pistols, in TR1-3 these guns will lock on a target if you hold Action. Can aim while running and jumping.

Desert Eagle Pistol
(TR3 & 5) or
Revolver (TR4 & 5)

Powerful single gun. (Lara holds it two-handed.) Great at close range—one or two shots brings down most enemies; much easier to target than the shotgun. Replaces the Magnums or Automatics.

In TR4 & 5, the revolver is one of the weapons that can be combined with the laser sight for more accurate long-distance targeting. (Again, see Inventory & Targeting on the TR4 or TR5 Controls page.)

Uzis (all games)

These fire many rounds very quickly, so they're perfect for tougher enemies. Lara can aim while running and jumping. Like the pistols, in TR1-3 these guns will lock on a target if you hold Action.

Harpoon Gun (TR2 and 3)

The only weapon that can be used underwater. Fires four harpoons before Lara must pause and reload. In a few cases, it can be used from the water to shoot targets on land.

M-16 Assault Rifle (TR2)

Powerful. Can be used in most situations but best for targeting larger/armed enemies at a distance. Will lock on target if you hold Action, but occasionally loses the lock, so be careful not to waste ammo.

MP5 Submachine Gun (TR3)

Similar to the M-16 and replaces it in TR3. Aims well at a distance; rapid fire rate. Harder to maintain a target lock while moving, so best for sniping.

Grenade Launcher
(TR2 & 3) or
Grenade Gun (TR4)

Lara cannot throw grenades. She must use the grenade launcher, which hurls a grenade up to about 8-10 squares of scenery ahead. If it hits something before that, it will explode on impact. Auto-aims but not too well. Best saved for bigger, tougher enemies in the higher levels. Also useful on petrified guards in TR2 before they awaken. (See the Useful Bugs page.)

In TR4, the grenade gun can be used with three different types of ammo: normal, super (big boom) and flash (blinding). (See TR4 Controls.)

Rocket Launcher (TR3)

Lara's biggest, most powerful weapon to date. Naturally best for long-distance. Rockets are few and far between, so use them wisely.

Crossbow (TR4)

For precise targeting at a distance. The crossbow can be combined with the laser sight and used with three different types of arrows: normal, poison and explosive. (Again, see Inventory & Targeting on the TR4 or TR5 Controls page.)