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

The Tomb Raider I – III Remastered is a game that features the first three classic Tomb Raider games released back in 1996, 1997 and 1998 along with their “Gold” levels respectively, which included an extension of the main games’ storylines.

The remarkable part is that this 3-in-1 bundle modern graphics mode that revamps not only the textures and lighting, but the developers have also added and tweaked the level’s architecture. This makes the games look much more fresh and updated given the current capabilities of the industry’s technology. You can also switch actively between the Classic and Modern graphics any time during gameplay or cutscenes with a single button.

The games are still faithful and based on the original engine, keeping the platforming gameplay within the blocked grid system which plays a key role in fulling many of the maneuvers needed.

Not only have the developers refreshed and modernized all levels, but they have also updated the models of the other characters and have implemented full facial animations (in contrast to the bobbing heads of the Classics).

We need to note that the options of the game allow you to switch between the original “Tank Controls” and the newly implemented “Modern Controls”.

The Tank Controls have the camera fixed behind Lara, not allowing it to be moved freely. This means that the camera adjusts based on where Lara is facing. The key bindings are as they were originally – you need to use the Arrow keys, along with right Ctlr and Alt keys, and the Num Pad, if you are playing on PC. Of course these bindings can be changed.

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Controls

The Modern Controls have the camera unlocked, allowing it to be moved separately from Lara’s movement. They feel best if played with a controller, as I tested them both with a keyboard and a controller on the PC. The Modern Controls also account for some drawbacks if you are used to the Tank Controls – such as an automatic grab of a ledge should you walk forward, or being able to do a backflip solely if you are using your pistols.

Both controls require some time to adjust, however, having also provided the Classics to someone who has never played Tomb Raider, both the Tank controls and Modern controls require just a few minutes to get used to. It seems that when you are trying to survive in this platformer, the brain quickly learns, in order to keep you alive.

Another addition to the games is the highly valued, amongst the community, “Photo Mode”. Any time during gameplay you can enter Photo Mode. Lara would freeze in whichever animation or position she is current in, or you can switch to a pre-defined Pose incorporated into the mode.

You can also change the Facial expression, Outfit or Weapons. The mode also allows to Flip the camera or change the Field of View (FOV).

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Photo Mode controls

If you’ve got the hang of adventuring and tomb raiding, once you finish each game, a NewGame+(NG+) mode is unlocked. This alters the gameplay experience quite a bit. You have limited ammo from the start, no medpacks, saving the game can be done only at specific crystals scattered throughout the levels, and traps and enemies are deadlier.

There are also quality of life of features, such as having a prompt whenever you are near an interactable object (since in the Classic there is no indication of this). The developers definitely thought this through as some of the objects are quite small and you may not even notice them from afar, compared to the Classic experience. In addition to the size of the objects, the dynamic lighting of the Modern graphics make certain objects or keyholes difficult to spot in the dark – this issue is not as pronounced in the Classic, because there is no dynamic lighting at all).

The remastered games definitely bring out the nostalgia and challenging gameplay of the 90s. The developers have used the core of the original engine and have topped it off with a modernized mode running in parallel, making the seamless transition between the Classic and Modern graphics.

Each game comes with a set of levels based in different locations, so there is definitely no exhaustion of scenery.

What may also be a breath fresh of air is that compared to the modern games where you have pointers or some sort of a scan to show you the way forward, in these Classics you have only your wits, guns, and some hints within the level design left by the developers as intended. The levels are your arena, and you may explore them, go back and forth as needed, in order to solve a puzzle opening that closed door you saw at the beginning of the level!

The gameplay is true to what it was back in the day, thus if you feel like experiencing the authentic gameplay of this proven platformer, look no further! Cumulatively, you are looking at around 80 hours of exploring ruins, solving puzzles and gathering arsenal in order to survive.

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered is definitely the adventure game you don’t want to miss out on!

8.5 / 10

3-in-1 platformer adventure which puts your wits to the test.