Initial Release: November 1998
Metacritic Score: 76 (details)
ESRB/PEGI Rating: Teen/12
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation. Later: Macintosh, PlayStation 3 and PSP (via PlayStation Network).
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Millions of years ago, a meteor crashed to Earth, landing in Antarctica, then a tropical paradise. Today, the same area is being excavated by the research company RX Tech, who are picking up unusual readings from the meteorite's impact zone. It is here that they uncover the body of a sailor who served on Charles Darwin's expedition on the H.M.S. Beagle. A few of the sailors had apparently explored the crater's interior.
Following clues from the sailor's journal, the researchers have expanded their search beyond the impact crater to other parts of the globe, where the Beagle's crew subsequently traveled...and died.
One of these places is India, where Lara is currently searching for the Infada Stone. Unaware of its true history, she only knows that in local beliefs it was supposed to hold great powers. Soon she will discover much more....
What's New Since TR2: More detailed environments and enhanced graphics, including dynamic lighting, rain, snow, smoke, mist, and other 3D effects. Lara's arsenal now includes the powerful Desert Eagle pistol and rocket launcher. (The pistol, shotgun, Uzis, harpoon gun and grenade launcher carry over from TR2, and an MP5 submachine gun replaces TR2's M-16.) New vehicles include a quad bike (ATV), underwater propulsion unit, kayak, inflatable motor boat and mine car. Lara gets some fresh moves as well. She can now traverse hand over hand (monkey-bar style), crouch, crawl and sprint. Also, instead of being completely linear, the middle locations—London, the South Pacific and Nevada—can be played in any order.
Saving Your Game: As in TR1, the PlayStation game requires you to pick up a save crystal each time you want to save your game. PC and Macintosh players still have unlimited saves. The crystals do appear in the PC and Mac games but function as small health power-ups. Perhaps the designers intended to have save crystals in the PC game, then scrapped the idea but for some reason didn't remove the crystals. (Windows and Macintosh savegame files are available in case you make a bad save, want to skip a level, etc.)
Secrets: As in the original Tomb Raider, the number of secrets in each level varies (from 0 to 6). Secrets consist of ammunition, medi packs, save/power-up crystals and the occasional weapon. A chime sounds when you locate a secret, and the stopwatch in the main inventory ring indicates the number of secrets in the current level and how many you've found so far. This also appears on the statistics screen at the end of each level. There is no reward for finding all secrets in a level, but finding all secrets in the game allows you to access the bonus level, All Hallows. As always, my walkthrough includes the location of all secrets.
Bonus Levels: Aside from the extra level unlocked by finding all secrets (above), there is also a mini-sequel, The Lost Artifact. This is a stand-alone game with just six levels. It is available only for Windows and Macintosh.
Classic Tomb Raider Games on New Systems: This game was designed for Windows 98 but can be patched to run in newer versions of Windows. There are also a number of fan-made mods to enhance your gaming experience. See the TR3 Downloads page for details. For help running the Macintosh version on newer systems, visit MacRaider.
An updated version for PC that requires minimal patching is available for download from Steam. (It will run on newer versions of Windows but may need some tweaking to run in widescreen and/or windowed format.) The PlayStation Store has versions for PS3 and PSP.
Becoming an Expert Raider
If you've never played a Tomb Raider game before—or even if you have—I encourage you to check out my TR3 Controls and Gameplay Tips & Strategy pages. They include pointers on moving Lara through her environment, conserving health and ammo, using the menu and inventory systems, and much more.
See this page for IMPORTANT BUG WARNINGS with minimal spoilers.
TR3 NLNM/NLNMAS Challenge
So you've mastered the game and now you're looking for a bigger challenge? Consider attempting a NLNM (No Loads, No Meds) or NLNMAS (No Loads, No Meds, All Secrets) run. That is, play through the game without saving, without using a health pack, and, of course, without dying. If that sounds like your cup of tea, check out this new subsection for information, rules, leaderboards, and links to a growing community:
Tomb Raider 3 Walkthrough/Strategy Guide
(includes Lara's treasure room,
assault course and racetrack)