Fans of the long-running Tomb Raider franchise can now play the series's first game on their browsers.
The developers behind OpenTomb have been working over the past four years to rebuild the first five Tomb Raider games from scratch, with the second level of the first Tomb Raider now available for players to explore.
The OpenTomb Project
A couple of developers, after failing to acquire Eidos's original Tomb Raider source code from Square Enix, decided to rebuild the games from scratch to bring them into browsers. The developers created their own engine and wrote their own code to remake the Tomb Raider games.
While none of the targeted five Tomb Raider games are available to be played in full just yet, the second level of the first Tomb Raider, the City of Vilcabamba, can now be played online on browsers. The level can even be played in the browsers of mobile phones, though the touch controls could be pretty difficult to master.
The playable level, named OpenLara, was created by modder XProger, who was inspired by the OpenTomb project. The level is a legitimate remake of what can be seen in the original game, complete with underwater tunnels and threats that include bears and wolves.
Tomb Raider In Browsers: New Features
What sets apart the OpenTomb project and OpenLara from other existing mods and patches for Tomb Raider is the fact that the open source model builds a new engine from scratch, instead of attempting to clone the original game engine.
"The older [an] engine gets, less chance it'll become compatible with further systems; but in [the] case of OpenTomb, you can port it to any platform you wish," the developers wrote on the project's GitHub page. Mods that are still based on the aging engine of the original Tomb Raider will be limited to have no new graphical enhancements, no new features, and no new structures. However, this is not the case with the open source engine of OpenTomb.
The built-from-scratch engine for the OpenTomb project allows the playable City of Vilcabamba level to operate at a higher frame rate than the original game, which ran at only 30 frames per second.
In addition to the better frame rate, players are given the option to switch to a first-person view, a feature that was not available in the original game. The level also offers controller support for players who would like to move away from the keyboard and into a gamepad.
While the City of Vilcabamba is so far the only playable result of OpenTomb and OpenLara, it demonstrates encouraging progress for the open source projects. It might only be a matter of time before players will be able to play the full first five games of Tomb Raider on their browsers.
There is no timeline on when that will happen. The OpenTomb development team has been very active on the Tomb Raider forums, so gamers will likely be kept updated on any progress made in the open source project.