Tomb Raider I-III Remastered, the perfect return of Lara Croft?

Announced last year during a Nintendo Direct, the Tomb Raider I-III Remastered compilation is finally available on PC, PlayStation (PS4 and PS5), Xbox (Series X/S, One), and Nintendo Switch. Three remasters of three cult games released respectively in 1996 (Tomb Raider), 1997 (Tomb Raider II: The Dagger of Xian) and 1998 (Tomb Raider III: The Adventures of Lara Croft) on PlayStation and PC.

With these remasters, Crystal Dynamics and Embracer Group are keeping players entertained until the announcement and release of the next installment in the Tomb Raider saga, which will mark the beginning of a new era and a new trilogy. It is the Aspyr teams who had the heavy task of handling these portings, over 20 years after their release. What can we say about it? Are these three remasters up to the level of the original games?

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered: Nostalgia Well Present

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If you are a fan of Lara Croft and have known and played the original games many times, it is impossible not to launch this compilation and not go through the adventures of our favorite explorer without having a big smile on our faces. From the first minutes, the magic works. The work done by the Aspyr teams is simply amazing. We are not dealing with a remake, so we keep the same gameplay, the same physical and graphic engines. However, many textures have received a serious polish with a huge amount of work done on the lighting and the lighting effects. And right away, that changes a lot.

Of course, we keep this cubist aspect that sometimes contrasts with these texture changes, making the games quite uneven. Some levels, sequences, and environments will be much prettier than others. But overall, it remains quite amazing and pleasant to evolve in these new versions of Lara Croft’s adventures.

The basic cinematics have not changed, even visually, which we regret a little. However, Aspyr took care of the in-game cut-scenes, once again bringing a lot of youth to the titles. The same goes for the model of Lara Croft, inspired by the “Anniversary/Legends/Underworld” trilogy, offering us a perfect Lara.

For the rest, the games remain unchanged. You will find the same adventures, with the search for the Scion in Tomb Raider, the famous Dagger of Xian in Tomb Raider II, and the various artifacts carved from a meteorite by the Melanesians in Tomb Raider III. You will thus find the same gameplay as at the end of the 1990s, with this grid-based game design where you will have to make jumps to the millimeter to avoid falling. Get ready to face many enemies like wolves, bears, lions, crocodiles, but also t-rexes, raptors, and other mummies.

Keeping the same sound design contributes greatly to this nostalgia. The sound of Lara’s steps in Tomb Raider 3, the sound of weapons, or the sound effect when our adventurer draws or puts away her weapons have marked the youth of many gamers. It’s a little something to find these little details in 2024. Let’s not even talk about the music, which is a character in its own right in the early Tomb Raider games. Nathan McCree’s compositions are back and bring a real plus to the progression of our stories.

If you never discovered the original adventures of Lara Croft on PC and/or on PS1 at the end of the 1990s, the gameplay may be quite difficult to assimilate. To overcome this, the Aspyr teams offer “modern” controls inspired by the Tomb Raider Anniversary/Legends and Underworld games. Unfortunately, these new configurations are not very practical and especially not at all adapted to the style of the first Tomb Raider games. The best advice we can give you is to keep all the configurations by default.

Three Complete Games in One

One of the strengths of this compilation is to offer you three complete games in a single title for a very reasonable price. Indeed, Tomb Raider I-III Remastered is offered at 29.99 euros on all platforms (PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch). Unfortunately, no physical version, you will need to opt for a digital version.

But for this price, you will have the right to the three adventures of Lara Croft, offering you more than ten hours each. When you have finished your journeys, it will be possible to extend the pleasure with the famous “Croft Manor” bonus levels, but also with the DLC, for the first time accessible on consoles. It will thus be possible to play “Unfinished Business” on Tomb Raider, “The Golden Mask” on Tomb Raider II, and “The Last Artifact” on Tomb Raider III. These are three levels that had only been offered as DLC on PC and are coming to consoles for the first time thanks to this remaster.

Nice New Features

Test Tomb Raider I Iii Remastered 13
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In addition to the new graphics, modern controls, and bonus levels, this compilation offers other small novelties. First of all, the possibility to switch in real time between the original versions and the remaster, allowing you to see in real time the work done by the Aspyr teams for this compilation.

But you also have the arrival of a photo mode. Nothing revolutionary, we are on a rather basic photo mode, but it has the merit of being present. It is possible to choose the camera angle, Lara’s pose, her facial expressions, and even her outfit and weapons, allowing you to take some nice photos. However, we regret the absence of options such as themes, brightness, background blur, etc… It remains a basic mode.

A Good Compilation, Despite Some Hiccups

Overall, Tomb Raider I-III Remastered is an excellent compilation with serious work done and offered by the Aspyr teams. However, there are some flaws, such as the total absence of automatic saving (even between levels). Not a very logical choice in 2024, especially since it is not specified during the game that it does not save progress automatically. A doubly surprising choice when you notice that the famous blue crystals have disappeared, allowing you to save manually at will.

The other problem is the camera. A real nightmare, especially on Tomb Raider III where it seems more capricious. It was already a flaw of the early games, and we would have appreciated a little improvement on this point.

Finally, even if there is not much to say about the technical part, we can still note some framerate drops (on Switch) in the cutscenes of Tomb Raider III where we fall quite low with a lot of stuttering. Otherwise, in-game, over about thirty hours, no major issues or bugs to report.

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