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Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Review: One Player's Nostalgia is Another's Nightmare

Our review takes a look at Tomb Raider I-III Remastered to see whether this revival can stick the landing.
Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Review: One Player's Nostalgia is Another's Nightmare
GINX/Patches Chance

Nearly three decades after the first Tomb Raider hit Sega Saturn, MS-Dos, and PlayStation, the original trilogy has been given a fresh coat of paint with Tomb Raider I-III Remastered. This is far from the first remaster put together by Aspyr, and they've kept and almost unrelenting level of accuracy that is going to be polarizing among players. In this Tomb Raider I-III Remastered review, we'll sift through the sand to help gamers know whether this artifact is worth their time.

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Review

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When you first load up Tomb Raider I-III Remastered, the opening menus absolutely nail the vibe. They're gorgeously crafted while still feeling in line with the original source material, and the soundtrack sets the tone. Once you actually launch any of the three remastered games, you'll enjoy some delightfully aged cinematics before finally becoming Lara Croft. As soon as you begin to move, the reality of the original Tomb Raider controls is going to set in.

For players who love the original Tomb Raider games and wanted an almost untouched port of that experience on modern consoles, you'll likely be over the moon by how much it feels like the originals. For players looking for something more comfortable, a quick switch to Modern Controls in settings instead of Tank Controls will reveal comfort isn't really the point here.

This is a port, not a remake, and the controls are just as unforgiving as they were two decades ago. While the Modern Controls do make movement a tad more fluid at times, they make the camera less predictable and ultimately make attempts at precision jumps even more difficult to land. Similarly, you'll run into some hiccups if you stick entirely to the modern remastered skin rather than the original visuals. 

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The new look from Aspyr manages to clean up things in a way that doesn't distort the game's original level design or vision, but it does still have flaws. You can switch between them effortlessly with a single button press, but the image above is just one example of where things don't quite translate.

The swamp on the right of the image above moves slightly with the original graphics in a way that communicates it's not a stable surface, but the remaster has a static texture without movement that makes it look like solid ground. Without the same quality consistency across those updated versions, most players will be better off with the original controls and visuals.

The Verdict: A Perfectly Accurate Port

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Ultimately, whether you enjoy Tomb Raider I-III Remastered is going to come down to what you actually want out of this. If you're looking for a modernized Tomb Raider experience that feels similar to other games of this era, playing this is going to be far more frustrating than fun. Players looking for that would be better off with the 2013 reboot or 2016's Rise of the Tomb Raider.

If you're looking for a novel set of visual changes over the top of what is an almost perfectly accurate port (flaws included) of the original three Tomb Raider games, then Tomb Raider I-III Remastered is a must. Players who want to relive that original experience without having to hunt down a classic console and game will be served a high-octane dose of nostalgia.

The minor issues with their Modern Controls attempt and a few non-ideal textures in the upgraded visuals aren't enough to get in the way of the Tomb Raider experience. If you're already planning to spend the majority of the game using the original Tank Controls and classic graphics, add Tomb Raider I-III Remastered to your library immediately.

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Rating: 9 out of 10