10 Thoughts On…Tomb Raider Trilogy

I was a bit skeptical when Crystal Dynamics first took over crafting the Lara Croft games. Then I played Legend on the PS2 and loved it. Picked up Anniversary the next year on PS2, but I didn’t have a PS3 when Underworld came out in ’08 and had just gotten laid off when it finally hit in “Ëœ09. So I’ve never gotten a chance to play Underworld at all, and here was a chance to not only get revamped versions of two of my favorite Tomb Raider titles, but also pick up the third for a decent price.

1. While Legend and Anniversary seem to have gotten a good once over HD treatment, Legend seems to look a bit more dated. Lara’s model, and many of the other characters really, seem a bit off, but the visuals are still leaps ahead of the PS2 version of the game I’d played before. Legend‘s HD revamp doesn’t seem as on par as Anniversary‘s does, and I have to wonder if it was the progression that they made with the games as they went.

2. Anniversary looks amazing. It’s not quite as good visually as Underworld, but it is damned spectacular. I remember being envious of the 360 version when I was playing Anniversary on my PS2, and I have to say, this version looks amazing polished up. I’ve tried looking up to see if they simply ported the 360 version over and I’ve found conflicting reports that it’s the PS2 version revamped and that it’s a port. Either way, I’m happy with what we have on the PS3 now.

3. There’s a saying about polishing excrement, and while Mythbusters have proven that wrong, the camera that has plagued this game series since day one is still a big pain in the ass to use. It chooses to move in and out and get stuck in walls at the most inopportune times. So while things may look prettier, you’re still going to have to fight to really see everything.

4. Menus in compilations are a beautiful thing, and in both Legend and Anniversary you can go back to that game’s respective main menu and from there back to the launch menu to jump to one of the other games on the disc. In Underworld you have that option up until you’re actually playing the game and then it vanishes. Once you’re in Underworld, you are stuck there until you quit the game. While not a big deal, it is still annoying that they didn’t off that option for those of us who like to game hop in compilations.

5. While Uncharted does draw quite a bit of its exploration inspiration from Tomb Raider, it is nice to have a proper compilation of these games on the PS3 to remind me of the more laid back pace of these games compared to the frantic action of Uncharted. Don’t get me wrong, I love Uncharted and its story, but I also like being able to kick back a bit and explore without having to duck and cover from anything and everything on the map.

6. I know I can’t have things both ways, but I do have to say that while everything looks pretty sharp, the backgrounds have had some changes made to them, bringing things more into focus and so on. One thing this has done is kill some of the tomb atmosphere the games had on the PS2. I realize they used smoke to hide draw distances and so on, but it brought a certain feel to a tomb in the games that are especially lacking in Legend, but Anniversary seems to be on a higher level.

7. What is up with the graphics in Legend? I’m going to keep coming back to this one because it seems to be the least pleasing of the trilogy visually. The shadows in this game look extremely primitive compared to the other two. Every once in awhile I get framerate stutters and then it has issues either loading a piece of scenery or the texture to it for a few seconds. This is pretty distracting and I don’t remember having those issues on the PS2 version at all, however I do remember some slowdown here and there.

8. While not ground-breaking, the inclusion of a nice PS3 theme and outfits for PlayStation Home were a nice touch. I’m a little weirded out by the Home outfits as you can either dress as Lara or one of the bad guys depending on gender, but it’s a full outfit, except the gloves. So if you were hoping to mix and match you can rule that out. For some odd reason the gloves are separate. I would have liked a no pistol option just so you don’t have to look like a completely rabid cosplayer in Home, but whatever.

9. If you’re hoping to get the DLC that popped up for Underworld in this collection you can forget it. It’s not on the disc and it doesn’t look like there will be DLC for this compilation. On the other hand, there are some nice trophies for this set including three platinums, one for each title in the series, which is pretty cool for the trophy hounds.

10. While I’m a bit down on the graphics at the same time I’m praising them, I really am glad I made the choice to pick this one up. I don’t have a ton of games for my PS3, and my PS2 has been in storage for a few months while we’ve been rearranging things since getting the new flat panel HD TV, which can’t display my PS2 games very well – or rather, the PS2 doesn’t like it much. So not only has it revamped a few of my favorite games on the PS2, but I finally get to play through Underworld to see how they wrap it all up. I think it’s a pretty fair price and the games, for the most part, are still holding up pretty well, which is good considering they came out at the beginning of the current console generation’s life cycle.



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