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PS3Blog.net | April 19, 2024

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[PlayStation 5] Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft Review

[PlayStation 5] Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft Review
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Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft brings us the original PlayStation trilogy for a new round. Check out our Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft review!

 

Confession time: I’ve never had much of a relationship with the original Tomb Raider games. My first experience was with Tomb Raider II. I was 12, and a copy of it came free with my purchase of a PSOne, along with Final Fantasy 7 and Crash Bandicoot…and I didn’t like it. I found the controls weird, and I could not figure out how to get out of the first level, which is probably why I instantly chose to use the modern-day controls instead of the classic “tank” controls. You see, Tomb Raider I-III Remastered, Starring Lara Croft from Crystal Dynamics and Saber Interactive by way of Aspyr, is, as the name replies, a remaster of the first-ever trilogy of games in the Tomb Raider franchise.

The games are visually touched up to put them more in line with modern-day visuals. If you are expecting the best visuals ever, you may be slightly disappointed. Remember, these are games that were originally released back in 1996, 1997, and 1998… which is nearly 30 years ago. Needless to say, trying to put lipstick on a PSOne game and expecting miracles is asking a lot, but credit where it is due: Aspyr has done a respectable job. All three games have gotten quite a sizeable facelift. At any point, you are able to do a quick comparison between the original graphics and the new ones simply by pressing the options button.

The change is instantaneous and does not affect gameplay… if not for a noticeable dip in frame rate when playing the first Tomb Raider in original mode. At first glance, the work is excellent, with the most noticeable difference being in Lara’s model. Her original models look angular and emaciated compared to her newer ones, and you would be forgiven for wanting to spend more time with the modern model. This makes more sense when you take into consideration the amount of work that has gone into improving other aspects of the game.

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The lighting in a lot of the levels and maps has been improved, with new light sources added to make some parts feel more atmospheric and moodier when compared to their original counterparts. I feel a commendation should be made to the water effects both underwater and at the surface level. Additionally, a minor note on some of the skyboxes: it’s an insignificant change, but I like the little touches on improving the skyboxes on most of the levels.

 

The loving touch of the visuals was not exclusive to Lara. The wider world and the people within have also received a glow-up. Enemies are improved, though some of them maintain the original model as a bouncing-off point and, as a result, end up looking quite weird. The weirdness also extends to the character models in the original games. Originally, the models did not have animated mouths when speaking, so the characters would bob up and down to show who was speaking.

Since Aspyr used the original animations as a basis, the new animations look a little weird with the characters juddering when talking, but strangely, it still works in the original context. It is a minor gripe that you will soon get over but one worth noting regardless. Another minor…. ish gripe is that some collectibles might not appear in the new lighting in some parts. Old hats might have muscle memory, remembering where things should be. Newbies may struggle to see some items that are not entirely well-marked on the newer visuals, but thankfully, you can switch visuals on a whim.

The touch-ups also extend to the cut scenes; granted, not much was done as there was probably not much they could have done for them, but fair is fair. The new cutscenes are noticeably sharper as they have been presumably boosted in resolution, and you can also change between the originals as well as the updated versions, though, on some scenes, you would be hard-pressed to tell which was which. Whilst the modern visuals are better overall, I do find myself going back to the original once in a while just to remind myself how they looked originally and how modern influences could affect a game from 30 years ago. This is where a few problems begin to creep up.

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Should you decide to play Tomb Raider and, to a lesser extent, Tomb Raider 2 and Tomb Raider 3, with original visuals and modern controls, it is common to get trapped in the walls when operating the free camera with R3. It does not happen often, but it can be jarring when the camera gets stuck in a wall, and the only way to free it is to switch back to modern visuals. It is uncanny but not uncommon.

 

Speaking of the controls, I have been putting it off long enough now. I initially quipped about immediately changing the controls to the modern versions, and that is what most newcomers and even old hats will want to do. At first glance, Aspyr did an amazing job of creating a more modernized and fluid control scheme for Lara, allowing her to move freely instead of the direction-based look of the original. Did you want Lara to go forward in the original? Fine, forward (up on the D-pad) was wherever she was facing at the time. This time around, you have free reign over Lara’s movement and can even fully customize the controls of either version. It would be wrong to say that no work went into the controls as they clearly put in the effort, but a bizarre oversight for me with the modern controls is the inability to perform sideward somersaults and backflips as Lara.

Those familiar and comfortable with the original games will know just how pivotal those abilities were, both in combat and general traversal puzzling. I never truly appreciated them before, but the original controls seemed to fit perfectly well with the original level designs – who would have thought? A seasoned (original) Tomb Raider player will be able to maneuver through its most moderately difficult platforming puzzles with the original controls, whilst newer players may struggle to get to grips with the modern controls on the old-school platforming.

There is a level of precision that becomes second nature to you when you play with the original controls as you come to realize that the modern controls feel fine on a flat surface or without any dangers but suddenly feel inferior when placed in the face of a challenge. I found myself switching back to the original controls and actively trying to remember them, and sure enough, when it clicked, it clicked. Tomb Raider suddenly made sense and worked a whole lot better; I would recommend everyone to give the original controls a fair shake before deciding on which one to go for. It might be a little bit unfair to ding the game for this but interestingly, during the tutorial levels for each game, all of Lara’s control instructions relate exclusively to the original controls because the game uses verbatim the original dialog with no new voice lines recorded, so a lot of Lara’s instructions feel inappropriate to what you are doing if you were playing with the modern controls.

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I think there is room to acknowledge the amount of work that went into remastering the games and the amount of content here. Not only do you have the original games, but you also receive the expansion packs of each of them, originally only available for PC, and now finally available on consoles. Aspyr even added subtitles to the games to help with accessibility, a small touch but one I am sure many will appreciate.

 

People who enjoy trophies will be in heaven since there are 269 trophies to collect… which is nice. But people who collect platinum trophies and play on PlayStation 5 may feel hard done by due to the PS5 version not coming with a Platinum. It’s certainly a weird choice since we’ve previously seen game collections with separate trophy lists for each game and a Platinum trophy for each one or, worse case, one Platinum trophy for the whole package. Needless to say, there is a wealth of challenges to complete, from locating hidden items to performing certain things under certain conditions to even speedrunning the games.

With all of that said, I do not regret my time with Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft. There is definitely a joy to be had here, and arguably, there are arguments for and against going back to the more puzzler-based roots of Tomb Raider instead of the modern-day Uncharted-esque games that the new games have become. Newcomers will certainly struggle with the level designs and puzzles like I did all those years ago and may find the lack of map markers and objectives a bit of a struggle. It was certainly interesting to see the exclamation mark appear in-game to show interactable objects, a small quality-of-life introduction, but I think one both oldies and newbies will like.

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Regardless of all of that, I think this is certainly one for the fans, but I most certainly believe that newcomers will definitely get a kick out of seeing a game from yesteryear and potentially get a kick out of having to discover things for themselves. This is a very welcoming collection price-wise – at only $29.99 – and bursting with content. I struggle to see how anyone will not be able to find something they like in all (technically) six games in here. It’s also a Cross-Buy release, so you’ll be able to download both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 versions at no extra cost.

Disclaimer
This Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided Aspyrby .

Review Overview

The original PS Tomb Raider trilogy revamped for a new generation
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7

Rating