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Review of Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered - a fantastic remastering of Lara Croft's forgotten storyline.
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Review of Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered – a fantastic remastering of Lara Croft’s forgotten storyline.


If we were to compare modern games to sports cars, they would be flashy, fast, expensive, and noisy. However, the original Tomb Raider game can be compared to a shopping trolley – it is clunky, slow, and not very visually appealing. It may also be difficult to operate, especially for those used to automatic gears and sat nav. But despite its flaws, it is incredibly efficient at fulfilling its intended purpose. Plus, it can be purchased for a mere quid.

The price for Tomb Raider I-III Remastered is £24.99. This bundle includes the original three games from 1996-98 and their expansion packs. The graphics have been updated, although it is more of a minor update rather than a complete overhaul. The game still has a flat, polygonal appearance with sharp edges, paper-like enemies, and exaggerated character features.

The lighting has a more realistic appearance, the water effects have been greatly enhanced, and the high-resolution textures provide a significant amount of detail. The vegetation appears more lifelike and the surfaces are smoother. The cracks in the marble walls of the Venetian palazzo are visible, making it no longer resemble a structure made out of Ceefax. These visuals would have been groundbreaking when Tomb Raider was first released in 1996, but they do not meet the standards of modern games. The remastered version falls into a strange middle ground between the two, approximately around the year 2005. However, these graphics complement the outdated gameplay and are a definite improvement from the original, which had blocky and unattractive visuals that would disappoint anyone wearing rose-tinted glasses.

Lara Croft stands inside an archaeological ruin.View image in fullscreen

Unfortunately, a few of the standout scenes in the series have lost their impact. The famous moment when the T-rex is revealed in the first game was incredibly scary because the dinosaur appeared suddenly in the pitch black darkness. This was not a creative decision, but rather a result of technical limitations – the game could not display detailed backgrounds or the sky. Now, the encounter occurs on a cloudy day and the surroundings are visible. As a result, the scene is still tense, but not as terrifying. As with Jaws, fear is heightened when the monster is hidden from view.

One positive aspect for those who prefer the original version is the ability to switch between the original and updated graphics with just one button. Additionally, players have the option to use the traditional tank controls or a new system that allows Lara to move like a modern action hero, resulting in smoother movements and less frustration with camera issues. However, this comes at the expense of precision in navigating grid-based environments, which is necessary for completing challenging platforming sections. To overcome this, players can switch between the two control systems through the pause menu, which can be inconvenient. It would be preferable if this could be done with a single button press.

There is not an option to turn off the problematic content found in some of the original games, specifically the racist portrayal of South American natives as cannibalistic dancers. However, the remaster does include a warning about these harmful and unacceptable stereotypes. The content itself has not been changed, with the intention of recognizing its negative impact and using it as a learning opportunity. This argument appears reasonable. More recent Tomb Raider games have made efforts to avoid racial stereotypes and have addressed themes of colonialism and cultural appropriation. The problematic scenes in the remaster serve as a reminder of the importance of these efforts.

It is evident that the games included in this collection seem outdated. They do not meet the standards set by current games like Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed in terms of impressive visuals, user-friendly controls, and intense gameplay. However, they do have something that many modern games lack – a strong sense of self-assurance.

Lara Croft points her gun at an animalView image in fullscreen

The first Tomb Raider games do not provide guidance. The surroundings are not marked with obvious indicators of where to proceed. They are not filled with arbitrary objects to gather or uninteresting texts to peruse. There is no need to create weapons, improve armor, or select an amulet for your magical necklace to slightly boost the effectiveness of aerial kicks in close combat.

You are unable to scale every obstacle in your path. Simply pushing the thumb stick upwards and pressing X will not allow you to traverse entire cliffs. Precise navigation is necessary, which may result in frequent deaths. There is no energetic soundtrack, in fact, there is hardly any soundtrack at all. You will not have bothersome companions constantly talking in your ear, no map to guide you, and no hints to assist you. You are solely responsible for your journey.

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Tomb Raider’s strength lies in its trust in the player. It understands that you will persevere through challenging and frustrating parts, finding fulfillment in your achievements. There is no constant need for rewards or flashy items, like a shiny sword or long cutscene. A simple but breathtaking view and beautiful music are sufficient. This game is geared towards mature players.

The newly updated version of Tomb Raider is not just any ordinary shopping cart. It can be compared to a vintage car that has been carefully maintained and shines beautifully. Despite some minor flaws like a sticky handbrake, a broken CD player, and small cracks in the butterscotch leather seats, it still brings joy when taken for a ride. Such quality and craftsmanship are rarely seen nowadays.

  • The remastered versions of Tomb Raider 1-3 are now available.

Source: theguardian.com