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Tomb Raider Trilogy Review

20 April 2011

The Tomb Raider Trilogy is yet another collection of classics from yesteryear that have received the HD treatment before being bundled together on a single Blu-ray disc. The pack contains a trio of Tomb Raider adventures (hence the trilogy moniker), specifically Legend, Anniversary, and Underworld. Of course, since the latter first appeared on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2008, little else has been implemented outside of Trophy support (which are available in all three games). With Legend and Anniversary, however, developer Crystal Dynamics has not only given both games a HD makeover, but also includes some small extras on the disc like a theme pack, two Home avatars, and “making of” videos.

If you aren’t familiar with Lara Croft and her treasure-hunting antics, all you need to know is that she set the bar very high for semi-realist female video game action stars. She is essentially a sexier version of Indiana Jones (depending on who you ask) and approaches her puzzles and battles in a similar, yet more timid, manner to Nathan Drake. She’s always decked-out in ultra-tight outfits and really loves shooting animals in the face with dual pistols. 

As this is a collection of previously released games, I won’t go into all that much detail regarding the individual stories. Legend is essentially the first of the modern Tomb Raider games, while Anniversary is a remake of the first Tomb Raider, originally released on PSOne back in 1996. Underworld is the most recent outing for Lara from the team at Crystal Dynamics. It should be noted, however, that none of the DLC for Underworld is available on the Blu-ray disc.

All three games send Lara across the world hunting for different artifacts. Legend and Anniversary look fairly good after their makeover, but they are still noticeably inferior to Underworld. There are plenty of small issues with shading and textures, but overall the environments in Legend and Anniversary are terrific. Don’t expect visuals that resemble recent PS3 highlights, but the games are noticeably better looking than their originals.

All three games look pretty good, but the sound is a much different story. The audio mix is off, and during both Legend and Anniversary my TV speakers would clip during cinematic sequences, and that’s not because my TV was too loud. You’ll need to turn down the background music and sound in order to strike the proper balance in order to hear any dialogue spoken.

The core of these games has not changed and you can really tell in the gameplay, combat, and puzzles. I’ve always had issues with the clunky controls in Tomb Raider games, and while they are a bit tighter than in previous entries, they are still slow and frustrating. This can cause some major problems as your time during most of the three games is spent leaping to ledges, sliding up and down poles, or swinging to and from ropes. I died on numerous occasions because when I hit the jump button, Lara decided to wait an extra second or two to actually perform the move. Yes, the controls have improved over the years, but they are still nowhere close to recent action-puzzlers.

Combat is a mixed bag, and I hope any future games get a major overhaul in this department. Lara locks on to targets by pressing L1, which is fine except the system is not very consistent. She has a dodge ability the makes her flail around the screen, typically rolling into traps. You won’t have to worry about rolling into enemies because they are all pretty worthless combatants. The camera is another source of frustration, occasionally getting stuck behind objects.

Despite the fundamental mechanics of all three games going relatively unchanged, the Tomb Raider Trilogy is still a solid investment, for both fans of the series and those interested in seeing what they have missed. Personally, however, I’m not someone who supports the idea of throwing a few old games on a disc, adding Trophy support, and calling it a day. Nonetheless, Tomb Raider Trilogy does make some slight changes to the gameplay and chucks in some random extras to boot, making the $39.99 price tag seem very reasonable. It’s really a great value — three full games (albeit old titles), a theme pack, Home avatars, videos, and Trophies for anyone hunting for another three platinum awards to their collection. While Legend and Anniversary are starting to show their age, they are enjoyable to relive and they offer a decent introduction for those new to the series.

-The Final Word-

Tomb Raider Trilogy is a great value for fans and a decent introduction to those new to the series. However, both Legend and Anniversary still feel a little dated despite the HD overhaul.
  • HD versions of two classics
  • Underworld at a low price
  • Great value
  • Core gameplay still frustrating
  • Audio issues
  • Camera needs an overhaul
7.0
Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3
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