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Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered | REVIEW | PS5

''UNCHARTED BEFORE..UNCHARTED''

 


Developed: Crystal Dynamics

Published: Aspyr

Genre: Puzzle platformer

Release Date: Feb 14th, 2024

Platforms: PS5/PS4/STEAM/NSW/XBOX family/Windows

Review copy provided by Aspyr/Sandbox


Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered are classic games brought back to life again and they're developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Aspyr. With the first 3 games in the Tomb Raider series being its peak of popularity, Aspyr and Crystal Dynamics its decided to give it a fresh coat of paint and bring them to a modern era. But were these remasters necessary? or is it a case of ''what was the point?''. Only one way to find out, so lets go!


 


''DID YOU NOW THOSE EQUAL 6? MIND BLOWN''

 

GAMEPLAY:


Tomb Raider is back once again to grace our consoles and its time for myself and others as long time fans to rejoice as Croft's return. The Tomb Raider franchise has always been a weird one for me. Having been first released for consoles on SEGA Saturn and then ported over to Playstation, it somehow became a staple of the Playstation brand over both PC and SEGA Saturn at the time Which always struck me as odd for some reason. Since her very tread into the gaming world, which at the time was lead and developed by CORE design, she immediately became an icon in the gaming world, due to being one of the main females in gaming next to Samus, pitted as being an absolute bad ass. With this new found fame, through the events of Tomb Raider 1 to 3 with CORE at its helm, Lara entered her sex symbol phase that was all the crazy in the 1990s. While most people seem to get offended at the notion nowadays, I however, now looking back at it as an adult, don't really have an issue with it as it showed that not only can females in video games be top tier ass kickers, but they can do so while still looking good doing it. The REAL crime people should be talking about are those cone shaped boobs. Everyone was worried about Ralphie shooting his eye out in A Christmas Story, but here? I'm worried that one of those things is going to impale me through the head like I've fallen into a death pit in Mortal Kombat. The 1990's saw Lara Croft rise to levels of fame that weren't really seen back then for women in the gaming world, but, just like on those True Crime tv shows, ''She was a popular figure in the industry......until she wasnt''. As Tomb Raider 3 rolled around, CORE design started thinking of ways to pivot away from the character as popularity with anything really goes away eventually, unless you're a Doge or Cat meme, then it doesnt apply at all. Going through with this idea, CORE design released Tomb Raider 4, or what most people call it, The Last Revelation, which was written and played out as Lara's definitive end and her death and culminated in the ending of the franchise. The game itself was pretty good, I myself had it on good boy console Dreamcast, but the hardcore fanbase of the Tomb Raider franchise weren't ready to let the character go just yet and Eidos said ''no way bro, its making money, she has to come back''. This decision wound up being the end of CORE design as the main developer of Tomb Raider, as with this decision, CORE designs main team went to work on what would become the abomination of Angel Of Darkness, which became Tomb Raider 6, while a side team made Tomb Raider Chronicles, which was a ''lost adventure'' filler game billed as Tomb Raider 5... that wasn't very good at all. But where it all went wrong was Angel Of Darkness. It was a hot topic version of Tomb Raider with Lara sporting darker make up and black shirt and jeans over usual attire and potential love interest named Kurtis. If you saw every grunge band in the early 2000's, then this fool fits right in. His character is so boring, bland and offers nothing more than a shoehorned love interest with an ''edgy'' side. Releasing in 2003, the game releases broken and the most god awful controls imaginable for a game of its genre, which lead it to be publicly shunned by critics and gamers alike, which resulted in CORE design being fired immediately. Which I honestly didn't agree with since it was Eidos who forced them to work as two teams and major crunch time to get Angel Of Darkness and Chronicles to release within a year of each other. What a jerk move.


With CORE design dead and buried, it was time to let Lara rest for a few years to get that stinky smell out of our nose and then the franchise got its first reboot with Tomb Raider Legend, which was the start of its own trilogy and brought Lara back to her roots, albeit with a little more action. Being satisfied with the critical success of Legend, current developer, Crystal Dynamics, celebrated the 10th anniversary of the franchise by remaking the original title but with story tweaks to tie in with Legend. This game was also great and perfectly set the tone for the 3rd and final game in the Legends trilogy, Tomb Raider Underworld. This game also was praised highly and was my personal favorite in the entire trilogy from gameplay and graphical stand point, but out of the blue Square-Enix takes over the franchise from Eidos and we are AGAIN treated to the series second reboot. Oh good lord. This franchise getting closer to more reboots than the Mortal Kombat franchise. With another reboot, the Survivor Trilogy was born that contained the entries of Tomb Raider, Shadow Of The Tomb Raider and Rise Of The Tomb Raider. This trilogy, just.. didn't do it for me, she was more whiney, constantly screams to the point where if someone walked by your room with no context that they'd think you're watching porn, it put her back to square one as ''learning the ropes'' Lara over the tried and true bad ass I knew her to be. After the first game I figured, oh its just this one game to get is acquainted with her uprising and she'll be back to where we know her, right? BOY was I wrong. In all fairness, the games ARENT bad games, but for me personally, they came off as generic action, shooter, platformers that were trying to emulate Uncharted,. It didn't feel like the Tomb Raider and Lara Croft I knew, and quite frankly irked me enough to where I just stopped paying attention to all Tomb Raider news and stopped caring. But then what was announced after Rise Of The Raider? ANOTHER REBOOT. Yes, another reboot is planned now that the franchise has once again been shuffled off, this time to Embracer Group who vows to return Lara to her roots as seasoned adventurer in that newest entry, but that remains to be seen. Don't make me pull a Hawkeye and tell them ''please, dont give me hope''. But being the sucker that I am, after seeing her updated concept for the untitled new game, with her looking like the classic Lara I grew up with and who we will speak about in this remastered review, it has my interest and I cant wait to see gameplay and its reveal. But oh man, I can talk about the history of this franchise forever if I'm let to do it, but we really should get on with the full remastered review now.


 

''DINOSAUR, MORE LIKE GONNA BE DINO-SORE!''

 

The remastered versions of Tomb Raider 1 to 3 offers a return of the iconic version of Lara Croft that most long time fans grew up loving and have a strong connection towards, with the franchise itself bringing in millions of fans and keeping the same amount as the years went on. Even with her many highs and the very many lows, she's back once again with a brand new coat of paint and brand new qualify of life features that enhance the modern day experience over some issues that may have plagued these titles original releases in the 1990s. Now with Aspyr and Crystal Dynamics at their ready, they aim to revitalize this storied franchise, starting with the franchises first three installments. With these souped up remasters, brings a fresh new vibrancy to the environment and enhancements with upgraded character models, higher definition textures and lightning effects and the overall animation to Lara herself appearing more animated and expressive with more lifelike features that bridges the gap between what her original design looked like, but with a new coat of HD texture to modernize her to how we all saw her in the original versions of these titles. She looks fantastic, and plus, our eyeballs are safe from Lara's cones this go around, but maybe, not from Madonna's. The core gameplay mechanics of these remasters while they still remain faithful to what you know, loved or even hated, such as the tank control scheme, does get an upgrade slightly with more modern controls that would would expect in a 3D game nowadays, that is streamlined via its navigation and platforming and offers a more accessible experience than the original games did if people hated the sluggish and weird turning tank controls. This ensures these titles can gain new fans that may not have played the original trilogy and gives us as a player more flexibility to formulate our own personal preferences and fine tune the controls to what is more natural to own play style. Thank stumpy armed T-REX for that, Bubsy 3D control mechanics, successful averted. Sadly, not everything from the old clunkier games can be fixed, mainly the man issues with the camera itself that will disrupt your immersion in the game by being a constant thorn in your side by causing it to be caught in the environment, cause disorientation due to how it moves around while you're near certain walls, or even during underwater sequences. I mean I love nostalgia too, but these were not the features I wanted back nor were yearning for. I mean.. its an authentic Tomb Raider experience, I'll give it that, but we don't need it at the expense of our own sanity. Graphically all three titles are are absolute treat that embellish the environments with dynamic elements with flowing water and even more lush vegetation. It stays true to each levels original design, but giving it just enough of a touch up to give it a gorgeous uptick that gives you a moment of ''THATS WHAT I IMAGINED AS KID''. The only downside to these these upgrades and even some of the smaller subtle things added that breathe fresh life into the games are some of the water currents. In the original game, there was an indication to how strong the flow was, which showed you which aren't traversable, but in the remasters, its a smooth beautiful looking water visual, but, it keeps the same physics of the older games. So... you won't know how badly it will kick your butt till you trial and error. Which makes some of the design choices here a little b it of a head scratcher. Like people that put on their shirts first before pants. Who do you think you are? Winnie The Pooh?


One of my favorite features in Tomb Raider, that seems to be a new trend in modern gaming when titles get remastered, is being able to to switch at any point in time from the old games graphics to the modern day graphics, which provides a fantastic insight to what the developers were thinking when you switch between both visual set pieces and see the changes and additions made from old to new, and shows just how much dedication both Aspyr and Crystal Dynamics put into preserving the trilogies iconic looks and atmospheres. So while you're jumping and diving mid air, finding secret paths to unlock hidden doors, solving environment puzzles, getting your dual pistol fighting game on as you tango against a gigantic T-REX, and platformer your little heart out, you will be able to re-live memories of the past at a click of a button, any time you want to, and that for me, albeit not the biggest feature, is definitely one of the more significant ones added to this game that I thoroughly enjoyed. However, like I stated previously, even with a nostalgia filled trudge through the classics, the ugly features still reared their ugly head, like Sloth from Goonies. Diving certain directions when near a wall can cause a tad bit of glitching in temple areas, jumping on certain platforming sections doesn't register fast enough because its still running off the tank controls of the original in mind, graphical glitches when switching to classic visuals that make elements of the environment disappear or being overly pixelated, and then sometimes, a literal wall thats plastered in a top down view of flora and grass.... even though, its a rock. Yikes. So what if you don't have nostalgia tinted glasses like myself and millions of other fans, will you still enjoy this game? honestly, I think so, for all newcomers that are curious about the originals and who might have only played the modern survival trilogy, the remasters of the original trilogy offer the player a challenging and rewarding experience that is made even more challenging by the minimalist hand holding that modern gaming has been so fixated on, acting like were stupid. I resent that, I'm not stupid, we all know one plus one equals bananas, so check mate. Through the challenges Tomb Rader presents, it offers new and older players and immersive way to explore and have a feeling of a grandeur adventure, that encourages to do what the title says, raid tombs by giving the player freedom to figure out puzzles, navigate perilous environments with boulders, wolves, humans, traps, spikes, dangerous tides, and create a sense of discovery that remain unparalleled in the modern game market. Which is really a shame.

 

''WHEN I GET LOCKED OUT OF MY HOUSE TRYING EVERY KEY''

 

OVERALL:


At the end of the day, Tomb Raider remastered celebrates the feeling as to why the legacy of Lara Croft is still revered as a gaming icon till this day. Obviously it doesn't do the games 100% justice due to flaws like environmental glitches, tank controls at times making jumps awkward, weird texture layers, water currents making you jump to your death as there's no indicator of its strength. But with overall updated controls with minor mishaps, retaining the feeling of exploration through each game, being able to explore Lara's mansion again in full HD and climbing the roof using the old glitch, the feeling of exploration and discovery of secrets, the satisfaction of solving a hard puzzle and even the most important feature of.... being able to still lock your damn butler inside of the freezer where he belongs. With all the positives, they definitely outweigh the negatives and I feel that's more than enough incentive for veterans of the series, or new comers, to dive in and re-live the classic adventures of old, in the modern day. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW





 

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