The new multimillion-pound Tomb Raider: The Live Experience has opened in London, inviting ‘adventure-seekers’ to assist the legendary Lara Croft on a mission to save the world.
I have been given the chance to try it out, but unlike Ms Croft, I just have no Uzis to see me through – just a pair of trainers.
The experience, which spans 30,000 sq ft (2,787 sq m) in Camden’s Stables Market, leads us from Croft Manor – the stately Surrey home of the Croft family – to an ‘ancient tomb’ in the jungles of Costa Rica, solving puzzles to defeat a ‘secret order’ along the way with the help of live actors from the Tomb Raider franchise.
The new multimillion-pound Tomb Raider: The Live Experience has opened in London
I’m in a team of seven – we’re Lara Croft’s archeology students, we’re told. One person is made team captain and handed a backpack for picking up handy tools along the way to help us.
Each stage of the experience is against the clock, heightening the tension, and the sets are very impressive, but it takes a while to get into the flow of the acting, which initially feels a little cheesy.
A tunnel of LED lights leads us from Croft Manor to a fake snow-covered ‘Finland’, where we hear the voice of Lara Croft, courtesy of Alicia Vikander, who played Lara Croft in 2018’s Tomb Raider. She instructs us on our mission via tinny speaker. An actor, playing another of Lara’s students, weighs in and shares the details of our challenge – we need to collect as many ‘relics’ (glowing balls) as possible in a bid to defeat Lara’s nemesis Aidan, who rules the aforementioned secret order.
Next, we’re led to the back of a truck, where another actor hands us a bow and arrow and instructs us to shoot down the gunmen that are tailing us, as illustrated by the animated projection on the wall. I’m spectacularly bad at it – rather than soaring through the air, the arrow flops from the bow and lands about a meter in front of me – but others manage a bullseye and hit the bad guys.
The Tomb Raider experience spans 30,000 sq ft (2,787 sq m) in Camden’s Stables Market and sees visitors complete a series of challenges and puzzles to defeat a ‘secret order’
With the clock ticking, we’re ushered into a ‘sinking’ cargo ship then emerges in Costa Rica, where we’re instructed to zipline through the ‘jungle’, swinging from a T-bar before landing with a plop on a soft cushion under the zipline track.
An obstacle course through the jungle comes next before we clamber through a pitch-black tunnel on our hands and knees. Overall, this is the part that unnerves the team the most, thanks to the complete darkness of the confined space. Handily, a tiny red glow stick that we acquired earlier in the experience helps to guide our way.
Finally, we reach the climax of the experience, entering the ‘Tomb of Sibu’ where we meet villain Aidan, who has a spectacularly evil laugh. We plonk the relics that we’ve found on top of four pedestals and successfully defeat Aidan, before hotfooting out of the room as he yells after us.
My favorite part comes at the very end when we’re guided into a mock-up of a private jet with white leather seats, aeroplane windows and dimmed lighting. It’s especially cool if you’ve never been in a private jet before (like me). Here, Vikander’s voice returns once more, congratulating us on completing the mission, as a map on the jet’s TV screen shows us that we’re flying back to Britain.
MailOnline’s Ailbhe MacMahon (not pictured) says that ‘each stage of the experience is against the clock, heightening the tension’
It’s been a cracking hour and a half. The experience really ramps up when you’re tasked with physical activities, and it’s a massive rush of adrenalin when you find the relics. To make the most of it, it’s best to embrace the theater of the acting and try and get into the mindset of the character you’re playing.
However, as we only find nine of the overall 16 relics waiting to be discovered, I doubt Lara would recruit me for her next mission.
The world first met Lara Croft in 1996, when the original Tomb Raider video game hit the shelves. It was followed by the release of 12 more games, as well as several spinoffs and expansions. Another game is currently in the works, and as of this year, over 88million Tomb Raider games have been sold worldwide.
The franchise hit the silver screen in 2001, with Angelina Jolie taking the lead role in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. She reprized the role two years later in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. A sequel to Vikander’s 2018 revival, Tomb Raider 2, is currently in the works.
Angelina Jolie stars as Lara Croft in the 2001 action film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
London’s new Tomb Raider experience, created by Little Lion Entertainment and in partnership with Paramount Pictures, Crystal Dynamics, and Square Enix, is another brilliant new chapter in this ever-expanding franchise.
And while anyone can take part in the experience, it’s bound to be a particularly big thrill for hardcore Tomb Raider fans – Uzi or no Uzi.
Teams of up to eight people can take part in the experience, which opened today. Tickets to Tomb Raider: The Live Experience start at £66 per person. For more information, visit www.tombraiderlive.co.uk.