Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered Review — 2024’s Nostalgia Overload

The creative puzzle solving and level design is back, and so is the janky camera.

Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered.

Verdict

Despite setbacks in the mechanics and implementation, Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered is a perfect blast to the past to relive your childhood.

Pros

  • Overhauled Visuals
  • Accurate Recreation Of Originals
  • Creative Level And Sound Design
  • Refined Platforming Mechanics

Cons

  • Janky Control Scheme
  • Awkward Camera

The wish to go on an adventure, exploring untrodden regions and hunting for treasure; I’m sure after watching stuff like Indiana Jones, you had this fantasy as much as I did. However, I wanted to go on a real-life adventure that was impossible. Thus, video games were my source to live that fantasy, and the perfect title soon came before me: Tomb Raider

Key Takeaways
  • Developer: Aspyr
  • Publisher: Aspyr
  • Release Date: 14 February, 2024
  • Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC
  • Game Length: ~45 hours
  • Time Played: 30+ hours

I played through the first Tomb Raider, and the rest is history. I thoroughly enjoyed this closest thing to an Indiana Jones-style adventure, enough to stick around for the entirety of Lara Croft‘s journey over the years.

Yet, the originals held a special place for me, and I’m sure for you as well. So rejoice, you’re in luck as the original trilogy is back and is better than ever, which I wish to analyze in my review of Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered.

Story And Setting

Before I begin this section, I’m sure you’re well aware that Tomb Raider games have been all about the gameplay, and the story is rarely too much of a focus. This is especially true for the original trilogy, and since this is a remaster, the story and narration are exactly the same.

The story in the first three games follows a particular trope. Lara is after a mysterious artifact. Once she recovers it, she discovers the powers it holds and all the bad guys after it for nefarious purposes.

She navigates treacherous environments and creative levels to follow after them, uncovering more revelations, and then the finale takes a very supernatural, non-human turn.

Artifacts crucial to the plot (Image Captured by Us)
Artifacts crucial to the plot (Image Captured by Us)

The first game has the Scion, which you uncover and soon learn about the evil intentions of the woman who hired you. Tomb Raider 2 has you chasing after Mario Bartoli and the Dagger of Xian, which ends in a dragon-y finale.

Finally, The third has supernatural aspects all over the place, as there are four artifacts, each with a guardian, and then a surprise at the end. It’s a simple premise and a straightforward adventure, but honestly, it gets the job done.

The narrative exists to provide a reason for all your puzzle-solving, tomb-raiding escapades. I came here for the gameplay anyway, and as long as I enjoy that, Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered is golden.

Important Story NPC (Image by eXputer)
Important Story NPC (Image by eXputer)

Gameplay

Now for the main part. Here, I’ll discuss the mechanic changes, controls, fluidity, and the overall gameplay feel. Before anything else, I must say props to the developers for making this remaster as authentic and nostalgic as possible. It might be a little too nostalgic, but it’s part of the charm.

As soon as you begin, you get to familiarize yourself with the controls, which I’ll explain in a moment. I noticed that the overall feel of the games is the same as the originals: down-to-the-minute, clunky details. 

The iconic puzzles are back, taking you on a journey of avoiding tough obstacles, revving your boat at top speed to reach the timed door, and surmounting instant death traps or die trying.

It’s all as good and janky as I remember, and I love it. There’s a nifty little tool for you, too, this time. You can save at any time. No need to do the entire scenario over and over after a tiny mistake.

Traps (Image credit: eXputer)
Traps (Image credit: eXputer)

Next up is the platforming, the heart of it all. The remaster retains what made it hell, and in a good way. Not only is the platforming an avid reminder of “this is a PS1 game,” but it also shows some improvements in animations and registering last-minute ledge grabs. I left the ledge grabs mid-jump up to fate, but I have more control over their timing and the game registering the command.

Platforming (Screenshot Grab: eXputer)
Platforming (Screenshot Grab: eXputer)

The Camera Is Still Your Enemy, And I Say Bring It On

You need to keep one thing in mind: the camera still refuses to listen to your commands. Just when you’re stuck in the tightest of situations, the camera decides to go ham, reminding you of how past games were so legendary for us despite these issues. Though jump animation is improved, it’s still janky, and you’ll be doing a lot of blind jumps.

Janky Camera Angles (Image by eXputer)
Janky Camera Angles (Image by eXputer)

During Tomb Raider 2’s section where you have to push a block and then jump away from a spiked pit while stuck in a single-block corridor, the camera made sure I never made that leap safely.

A blind jump is what saved me after countless tries. Still, despite this “clunky jumping,” I never once found it tedious. Maybe it was nostalgia speaking, but the clunk is part of the experience.

Next up, we have the shooting mechanics. It’s safe to say that terms like gunplay are still missing from Tomb Raider’s dictionary. The awkward “face the enemy head-on to hit it” remains the same, and somehow, the gunmen in Tomb Raider 2 can shoot you through obstacles at times.

Stand far away from a tactical point and start shooting your infinite bullets. Watch them confused over what’s hitting them, and then just die out.

Shooting mechanics (Image Captured by Us)
Shooting mechanics (Image Captured by Us)

I don’t have a problem with this since it’s how they were designed. But I wish the remaster improved the camera and clunky platforming a little.

Of course, it’s nostalgia incarnate for someone who played the originals. But for newer audiences, less clunk in the core gameplay mechanics would’ve greatly attracted more fans to these timeless classics.

The Janky Controls Are My Only Complaint

Now for the controls I mentioned earlier. Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered features the original tank controls from the PS1 era and a modern scheme to fit the current standard of third-person games.

I must say that this was a brilliant gesture, as the developers considered accessibility and tried to make the game suitable for modern gamers. However, there were some issues.

Clunky control scheme (Image by Me)
Clunky control scheme (Image by Me)

Both control schemes were filled with problems and felt pretty frustrating to me. The tank controls lifted from the original were a lot more clunky and unresponsive than I remember, and the modern controls also made controlling Lara a lot more awkward than they should have. Above all, the camera goes haywire in modern, and I found the tank controls problematic, too.

Visuals And Performance

Regarding visuals, I have nothing but praise for Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered. Not only are the remastered graphics a significant improvement, but they also retain the feel of the original perfectly.

Want to compare? This collection features both remastered and classic visuals, and you can switch between the two anytime you wish, be it gameplay, cutscenes, static screens, or pause menus.

Modern vs. Classic Graphics (Image credit: eXputer)
Modern vs. Classic Graphics (Image credit: eXputer)

The cutscenes are simple upscale, but the gameplay is where it shines. You can see in real-time how much the graphics were worked upon. Some iconic locations like the temple from the first, the streets of Venice from the second, and the lush jungles of the third are all rich with details now, which is evident in the level design.

Visuals (Image by eXputer)
Visuals (Image by eXputer)

There’s one thing to note, though. The remastered visuals make the game a little too dark compared to the original. If you switch graphics, you’ll notice that you can see better in the classic ones, while the remastered ones create a darker feel of your location. You need to make use of those flares to navigate these gloomy situations. 

As for the performance, I’ve played Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered on PC with an RX 580, and not once did it suffer from any frame drops or FPS issues. Even when you continuously switch between two very different graphic modes, it happens instantly with little to no lag

Verdict

Verdict (Image credit: eXputer)
Verdict (Image credit: eXputer)

All in all, I firmly believe Aspyr has crafted something magical here. It embodies the originals’ soul in the truest sense, upholding everything the classic games were instead of trying to do something different. Despite setbacks in the mechanics and implementation, Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered is a perfect blast to the past to relive your childhood.

That was all about my review of Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered. And since you’re here, consider checking out more of our reviews.

This is box title
Get This Game
If you want an authentic throwback to the origins of the Tomb Raider franchise.
Dont Get This Game
If you’re not a fan of the clunky gameplay of old games.
Do I Need To Get This Game
Yes, the collection is a must play for any Tomb Raider fan wishing to go on a nostalgic adventure.
Alternative Games
  • Tomb Raider (2013)
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Tomb Raider: Anniversary
  • Uncharted Series
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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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