Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft Brings the Classics Back

Screenshot: Tomb Raider I-III Remastered

The Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft has dropped, and it doesn’t seem to be making much of a splash. That’s too bad, because Lara Croft did for gaming what Indiana Jones did for movies–and that was to introduce us to the world of less-than-ethical artifact procurement. But despite Indy’s popularity, Lara Croft established herself as the crypt invader du jour back in the nineties and early 'aughts. She has fallen off the radar a bit in recent years–especially after the lackluster reception of Shadow of the Tomb Raider–but if you were ever itching to jump into her classic adventures, this Remaster is a great way to do it.

This isn’t the first time a Tomb Raider game has been remastered, with the original Tomb Raider being rereleased as Tomb Raider Anniversary. But this original trilogy isn’t being released as a “remake” but instead as a “remaster”--that’s why the graphics in Anniversary might look “better” despite Anniversary coming out seventeen years before this. But while Anniversary was part of a reboot trilogy for the series (the first of two) this Remastered Trilogy are just the three original games with a little bit of modernization love shown to them.

Screenshot: Tomb Raider I-III Remastered

The first three Tomb Raider games are really old at this point. Originally released on the Sega Saturn (bet you didn’t know that!) Tomb Raider became a sensation–and for good reason. It might seem extremely primitive to today’s standards, but after a recent playthrough I can attest that it still holds up–somewhat. You might still have to put on some thick nostalgia goggles to truly enjoy them. And that’s where this remastered trilogy comes in.

But boy does this game have an unwieldy name: Tomb Raider I-III Remastered. It should have been called Tomb Raider Remastered Trilogy, but I’m betting Aspyr went this route to avoid any confusion with the multiple continuities that have been made since it has been rebooted. This is THE original Tomb Raider trilogy, well before Crystal Dynamics. These are Core Design’s original games that started out the franchise and solidified Lara Croft as a household gaming name throughout the late nineties and into the ‘10s, with her popularity finally waning in the last decade.

Screenshot: Tomb Raider I-III Remastered

In this remastered trilogy you play as Lara Croft in her first three adventures ever. It’s a remaster of an older game, so don’t expect complex geometry in levels. Lara, however, looks great–with her design being closer to the Legends trilogy. 

As Lara you explore mostly empty tombs in the first game, punctuated by the occasional enemy encounter. However, once you get deeper into the trilogy the emphasis on combat increases, until you’re regularly dispatching bad guys. Lora goes beyond ancient tombs to more contemporary locales, but the heart of the trilogy remains consistent throughout.

Screenshot: Tomb Raider I-III Remastered

Just like 343 pulled off in the Halo Master Chief Collection, you can easily swap between old school graphics and the Remastered graphics with a push of button. While Tomb Raider I-III Remastered feels a little old even in its remastered form, switching to its 90’s graphics really gives you an appreciation for how far Aspyr Media went in remastering these games.

There are also some more modern bells and whistles, with the most notable being the ability to set the control scheme away from the “tank” controls and into a more modern configuration. This, for me, was mind blowing, and completely changed the way I looked at the original trilogy of Tomb Raider games. It doesn’t necessarily make it “easier” however–in fact, I found that the modern control scheme contributed to me misaligning jumps. But it’s an overall improvement to this classic Trilogy.

Screenshot: Tomb Raider I-III Remastered

I don’t know if I can recommend Tomb Raider I-III Remastered to modern gamers. I think this release might just be for us older gamers who grew up with the classic Tomb Raider games. However, Aspyr Media does a great job of taking this original trilogy and updating it just enough to make it palatable to modern gamers, while not sacrificing any gameplay from the original. And not only that, this Tomb Raider I-III Remastered is a great way to preserve these titles going into the future.

Tomb Raider I-III is available now on Steam, for Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and of course for PlayStation on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5?

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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.