Blimey, the gaming industry really does go through some unexpected changes sometimes. If you told me back in the days of the original Tomb Raider trilogy that one day Square Enix would publish it, I’d have thought you were completely off your axle. But still, stranger things have happened, I think.
Regardless of who brought it to us, The Tomb Raider Trilogy may or may not get you excited depending on what you expect from it. It’s not the original three games, but rather the trio of Tomb Raider games made by Crystal Dynamics when they took over the floundering franchise. Tomb Raider: Legend, Tomb Raider: Anniversary and Tomb Raider: Underworld – all on one disc and remastered in glorious, widescreen HD.
For those who don’t know, the first game on the disc, Tomb Raider: Legend, was the first Tomb Raider game developed by Crystal Dynamics, and it basically restored everyone’s faith in the series after Lara’s tumultuous track record ending with the bomb that was Angel of Darkness. It gave us a new, more intuitive control scheme and featured a few kickass ideas, not to mention an engrossing story and enough combat, precarious, death-defying hazard-traversal and puzzle solving to satisfy all tastes.
Hot on the heels of this success came Tomb Raider: Anniversary, a tarted-up remake of the ’96 original, and it went down a treat. Fans loved being able to go through a much more fully realised version of the first game, replaying puzzles and sections that were created in the same spirit of the original, but were still different enough to be interesting a second time round. The developers had to tread a careful line to pull that off and they managed it.
Unfortunately, compared to these, Tomb Raider: Underworld was a bit of let-down. As the first Tomb Raider game produced for our current machines, it seems as if the developers’ mouths wrote cheques their skills couldn’t cash, and a lot of what we were promised didn’t actually show up in the final game. The result was a decent game, but it was just too similar to its predecessors and, apart from sexy graphics, didn’t seem to take advantage of our current consoles to deliver anything… dare I say, “next gen”? Still, if you’re willing to look past a few dashed hopes, there’s still a solid action adventure game there.
With regards to the first two games, Legend and Anniversary, the conversion to HD is very good and a bit better than your usual, slapdash upgrade. Crystal Dynamics has not only bumped up the resolution, but also redone the textures – the important ones at least – to stand up to 720p high definition, including putting some interesting skin and outfit shaders on Lara that definitely weren’t in the PS2 versions.
There are also several fascinating “making of” videos to watch – and if you’re even slightly interested in Tomb Raider, three games for the price they’re asking is an absolute bargain, so it’s easy to recommend.