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Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Review: “Love me Lara”

In our review of Tomb Raider I-III Remastered, it’s time to ask ourselves again: “Lara has arrived… who wants to keep her company?”

And it is by bothering both the Sanremo song and the summer issue (#5) of 2000 of Game Boy Mania, that we opted to open our review for the restoration made to the first Lara Croft trilogy: Tomb Raider I-III Remastered. In a single package, therefore, the first three adventures return: the 1996 original, the sequel Xian’s Dagger (1997) and the third chapter, Adventures of Lara Croft (1998). The first half, therefore, of the six games originally developed by Core Design e Eidos Interactive. The restoration is instead the work of the current managers Crystal Dynamics with the assistance of Aspyr. Finally, he acts as a publisher Embracer Group.

We can only assume that the remaining three episodes in the life of “classic Lara Croft” have remained on the sidelines to avoid leaving a bittersweet taste on the taste buds of potential new audiences. Or, more simply, for one second collectionwhich (if we have had the opportunity to appreciate on Nintendo Switch with this article lets us understand) has all the potential to be rediscovered (and redeemed) by the new generation. The appointment with The Last Revelation, the anthology chapter Chronicles and the grand finale of Core Design The Angel of Darkness, therefore, is presumably postponed.

“The worst of messes / become successes” | Review Tomb Raider I-III Remastered

We usually open a review by talking about plot, but with Tomb Raider I-III Remastered we will limit ourselves to the minimum wage. What you need to know about the protagonist Lara Croft it’s clear already in the first minute of the introductory cutscene to the first game. She is an intrepid archaeologist who has become, between one find and another, richer than she is interested in, because she is moved by the call of adventure. Originally Core Design avoided the male protagonist. Too similar in premise to Indiana Jones: better to avoid complaints. The prosperous measures of a plus-size were instead the result of an error with a mouse wheel. Be that as it may, the resulting appeal is universal: her sex symbol look makes her attractive to players, her emancipation as a feminist icon ante litteram makes her a model for players.

And since we’re talking about archeology, this is where a point comes in for which the writer intends to show as much support as possible. Compared to other remakes and remasters, from abandoning American Indian stereotypes to ink machine guns, There is no form of historical revisionism here. In fact, the disclaimer initial alludes to the presence of ethnic interpretations that were common at the time, but are now fictional. That’s enough. The clinical eye inadvertently also indirectly puts any metaphorical wrinkles of experience in a more magnanimous light, it’s true. Nonetheless, the intent is to preserve intact the memory of an icon of our childhood to expose it to new generations well capable of drawing their own conclusions. And then, come on, the first Italian level of the trilogy offers us the Sicilian underworld among the canals of Venice. A little suspension of disbelief never hurts!

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Review: “Love me Lara”

The core of the design | Tomb Raider I-III Remastered review

Similarly, the gameplay of the three episodes can be summarized in a single section. To be as concise as possible, the game presents itself as a 3D cinematic platformer, with a sometimes labyrinthine level design to hide a background of linearity. Lara’s agility, liveable without danger in the tutorial set in her villa (penalized only in her not being Peach’s garden), is comparable to that of a real person and “simply” very toned. To complete our incorrect comparison, therefore, we are not faced with Mario’s movement potential. However, the most flattering comparisons with a random Zelda find a place between a key and the inventory in which to put it.

In other words, therefore, jumps are subject to a realistic sense of inertia: Without a running start, for example, Lara will simply jump up. The suspension of disbelief we alluded to comes in handy just for unlimited pistol ammunition, the protagonist’s iconic standard weapon. For the rest, however, everything is subject to limits. All. From the bullets of the other weapons to the cure to be savored by managing the various traps and the many clashes with the right mixture of agility and wit. Later in the trilogy it is possible to take possession of the eventual ones vehiclesbut (just like in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped) they are ironically the “passengers” of the experience, which are passing phases in their turn.

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Review: “Love me Lara”

Wrinkles and rust | Tomb Raider I-III Remastered review

For better or worse, that is one of the most faithful remasters we remember. Let’s start from silver lining. Even after analyzing the game from day one (guides permitting), we still haven’t gotten used to the breathtaking effect of the Instant change between original and restored graphics. From the different framerate depending on the version passing through different lighting which makes the change useful even in gameplay, this is a preservation feature like the recent museum port of Quake II. Similarly, the less harmful glitches and various cheats have been retained, just as the audio remained intact. Therefore, both the English voices of the partial localization of the first chapter and the local Lara return (Elda Olivieri) in the full translation of the other two.

Just like a medallion found in a catacomb, however, the find in our hands also shows a dark side. The zeal to keep everything intact also extends to the tank controls, whose modern variant (although excellent in intent) proves to be more of a cumbersome derivative than an effective replacement. Similarly, because in the end we always talk about 3D platformers from the 90s camera it is not exactly among the most cooperative. The management of rescues it is free, but in its accessibility from the inventory it turns out to be cumbersome and, at times, even cryptic in potentially causing the player to get confused between saving and loading. Apart from this and the negligible smudges (like clipping), however, nothing to complain about.

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Review: “Love me Lara”

Long-lived like a mummy, snappy like Lara | Tomb Raider I-III Remastered review

The trilogy derives every possible and imaginable benefit from the PC versions of the originals. In fact, each of the three titles includes a additional campaign: Unfinished business for the first episode, The Golden Mask for the second and The Lost Artifact for the third. Outside of the generous offer in terms of levels to play, however, there is only one real “extra” that can be considered as such: a (very welcome) photo mode, accessible during gameplay thanks to the not exactly intuitive pressing of both analog levers simultaneously. It will not boast the immediacy of the same function in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (especially for those who are used to it!) from which we took the images of the relevant guide, but the options, including poses, weapons (any graphics), expressions and outfits ( remaster) there is no shortage.

From a content point of view, the rest is about titles with a very linear progression and, therefore, potentially “single use”. There is no type of selection of stages: only their completion, plus the accessibility linked to the various, generous save slots, especially for the third chapter which fortunately does not require the use of the hated ink-like “crystals” from Resident Evil on consoles. Still speaking of the third chapter, this is where the choice of the order in which to tackle the various stages comes in. For the rest, the progression remains from point A to point B (influences from DOOM, such as timers to grow and copious secrets, permitting), rewarding those who take the trouble to explore every nook and cranny.

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Review: “Love me Lara”

Golden restoration (with all due respect to the hand of Midas) | Tomb Raider I-III Remastered review

We have touched on almost every point: all that remains is to think about the performance of the game, starting from graphics engine. On the one hand, we clearly have on our hands a remake rebuilt from scratch. And while a simple press of the + button (or its equivalents on other platforms) expertly simulates anachronistic graphics and framerate whenever we like, at the same time the level design remains anchored to the limitations of the original, right down to the number of polygons . The qualitatively refined textures hide rocky conformations and obstacles faithful to their intent to obstruct the passage “as in the past”, limiting the frills to only the additions that matter.

The soundtrack remains intact in its minimalism, with excellent musical accompaniment only where the titles deem it strictly necessary. The third episode specifically pays attention to our coronary arteries in the event of the sudden appearance of enemies with a so-called scare chord (a “sonic scare”, if we want), but generally the themes that remain imprinted in the minds and hearts of those who play are the screens of the title, in turn available in both modern and retro versions (adapting the renders in the background if necessary: ​​great touch of class). The dubbingalthough perhaps excessively set it was originally, arrives in 2024 perfectly intact without any compromise.

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Review: “Love me Lara”

Final considerations

Dreaming of a possible second restoration, perhaps of episodes IV-VI, what we saw during the review phase promotes largely Tomb Raider I-III Remastered, despite Lara Croft herself being (ironically) far from the academic kiss and returning to the marketplace on Valentine’s Day. A courageous icon in facing the most dangerous catacombs, more than others in submitting to our scrutiny and, perhaps, for some, intrepid even in the price list. Lara doesn’t venture for money, but i thirty euros that it requires could perhaps discourage players who are limited to classic platformers and their immediacy. You might want to wait for a discount if you want. However, if you have the slightest bit of curiosity about a series that has become mainstream synonymous with video games in its time, any time is suitable.

The quality/price ratio is well measured. Ultimately, it’s about ten euros per game, more or less the same amount for which the originals were available at the dawn of the PS2. It is a package with which to discover, or rediscover, the era of adventures with an “edgy” flavor that characterized the closing of the curtain on the last millennium. Minimalism included. Perhaps the first to welcome Lara will be the long-time fans who have always been by her side since the bold and comely adventuress shot her way through necropolises and opera houses. But anyone who stumbles upon this collection will learn thehistorical importance of a saga that has left its mark on the gaming landscape. With clinical detachment, if deemed appropriate.

This was what we thought. But what is your opinion? Tell us belowand as always don’t forget to stay on for all the most important news for…