After attempting to gain access to Eidos’ original source code for Tomb Raider, a couple of developers have started to completely rebuild the game from scratch as part of a browser-based project.
The project is called OpenTomb and the goal is to allow people online play through the five original Tomb Raider games. None of the games from the development team are available to play in full, but the second level of the first game — the City of Vilcabamba level — is fully functional. Players can take control of Croft and switch back between first and third person. Since the game is running on newer code, the frame rate is also reportedly higher than it was in the original game.
On the team’s Github page, where other developers can browse through the code and add to the project, the team posted a brief FAQ going over their reason to develop the reimplementation project. The games are available to purchase through GoG, but the development team isn’t looking to profit from the project. Although they acknowledge there are already a few avenues to play the games already — through Microsoft builds and DosBox — there was one specific element missing.
“The older engine gets, less chance it'll become compatible with further systems,” they wrote. “But in case of OpenTomb, you can port it to any platform you wish.”
On their website, the team also confessed that they tried multiple times to reach out to Eidos about the project, but never got a response. Instead, they decided to start the entire thing from scratch, using original source code and materials.
“No matter how advanced your patcher is, you are limited by original binary — no new features, no graphic enhancements, no new structures and functions,” the FAQ reads. “You are not that limited with open-source engine.”
There isn’t any update on when the next level will be able to play, or when followers of the project may get their hands on the first completed game. The team is pretty active in the Tomb Raider forums, however, and have their own dedicated subforum where they actively post about new updates.
The City of Vilcabamba level can be played here.