April 1, 2011

Review: Tomb Raider Trilogy HD

Crystal Dynamics, along with Square Enix, Inc., the publisher of SQUARE ENIX interactive entertainment products in North America, announced that THE TOMB RAIDER TRILOGY Pack is now available at North American retailers.

The pack has launched exclusively for the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and includes newly remastered HD versions of TOMB RAIDER Legend and TOMB RAIDER Anniversary, as well as TOMB RAIDER Underworld, previously released on the PS3.

THE TOMB RAIDER TRILOGY pack offers PS3 owners the opportunity to play two of the best games in the series now for the first time on the PS3. Both Legend and Anniversary have been carefully remastered from their original PlayStation 2 format into HD and also include full Trophy support.

Additionally, several exclusive items have been created specifically for this pack: THE TOMB RAIDER TRILOGY Playstation 3 theme pack, the official Lara Croft female Home avatar outfit, the Viking Thrall male Home avatar outfit and a collection of "making of" trailers in HD for the entire series.


I think it’s fair to say that in recent years the Tomb Raider series has seen something of a drop in popularity. The series seems to have been forgotten about (except for the hardcore fans of course), but it is poised for a big comeback with the highly anticipated reboot on the horizon. That makes now the perfect time to revisit some of the classic titles which made countless gamers surrender their hearts to Lara.

Crystal Dynamics and Square-Enix have picked up on that vibe and released the Tomb Raider Trilogy HD; the title “Tomb Raider Trilogy HD” seems a little weird because for starters the three games included in this voluptuous Playstation 3 exclusive package have all been released on the Xbox 360 previously. This begs the question just how much more HD can they possibly cram in there?

Well quite a lot actually because the three games included (Legend, Anniversary and Underworld) have been revamped fantastically. The graphics are certainly a little dated, but impressive none the less, and, as expected, the level of visual satisfaction only increases as you progress through the three games. If you have not dabbled in Tomb Raider’s delights before you should be ashamed. Go to your room you naughty boy and take this game with you it’s the perfect opportunity to see what all the fuss is about.

The three games included may not be considered among the all time greatest Tomb Raider games, but I certainly got a nostalgic feeling after playing though this collection of games. It’s a pleasant blast from the pre-Uncharted past and anyone who was privileged enough to play the original Tomb Raider games will feel right at home. The dodgy camera angles, twitchy vehicles sections, and often tedious puzzles, are still prominent problems, but it doesn’t drag the game down, in fact it only adds to the charm.

One of the bundles highlights is the instantly recognizable soundtrack; it’s been remastered with noticeable improvements and the distinctive score is one of the cornerstones holding Lara Croft up on her pedestal. As you explore and raid tombs you’ll be accompanied by some truly captivating music. It will change on the fly as you run into all sorts of troublesome enemies, ranging from cunning wolfs, annoying vampire bats, grizzly bears and the delightful raptors, which all caused so much trouble for Lara Crofts in previous adventures. It is a pleasure to gun them down all over again with a handsome arsenal.

The gameplay is unchanged of course, you’ll be running around raiding tombs in all the corners of the earth, utilizing acrobatic skills and gun-play to transverse any obstacles that come your way. During battles you’ll be able to use bullet-time to pull of some cool manoeuvres and, as expected, Lara will run into a fair few traps along the way, which adds a fantastic level of tension and excitement. Significant changes, like the addition of a grappling hook, smoother controls, and the diverse environments mean levels manage to maintain just the right level of challenge and are really very satisfying to play.

So what else does this package come with? What is going to make you pay Lara Croft for another adventure? Well the package also comes with some welcome extras: an exclusive Tomb Raider XMB theme is included along with several avatar items for those of you who enjoy using Playstation Home, but the best bit is the developer diaries.

Whilst they are quite short, they are genuinely funny and appear to be shot by the development team themselves, with different videos for each game and even some for Lara Croft and Guardian of Light. You are going to have to work if you want to experience all of these behind the scenes snippets because you’ll only unlock them by going off the beaten track, and finding in-game secrets. Trophies have been added too (thank god) so altogether these bonus additions really extend the playtime.

Out of the three, Tomb Raider Anniversary shines more so than the rest, at least to me. Released in 2007, it’s a remake of the original game and it stays true to Tomb Raider number one by removing most of the additions in newer titles. Again, it has a few niggling issues but the quality, level design, scale and emphasis on exploration make you appreciate it a lot more than the other two in the package, making it a good, solid and fun game to play.

Saying that, Tomb Raider: Underworld has a lot going for it too: it is a lot more cinematic, with more likeable characters and a more Hollywood Blockbuster-like story. The voice acting is top notch and the visuals are far more advanced. Underworld broke away from previous titles, being edgier, stylised, and demonstrating more influence from games like the highly acclaimed Uncharted. Although I would consider it to be an unfair to compare it with the older games, it makes Underworld more appealing to the wider audience.

The Tomb Raider Trilogy HD has clearly been made with a lot of love for fans but it is much better as an introduction for people new to the series. Honestly, for less than 30 English pounds, it’s a bargain, the HD element makes everything more vivid, sharper and gives you a new perspective on some classic titles.

Gameplay: 4/5 The controls retain the problems they’ve always had, but they don’t soil the experience in the slightest. Exploring is satisfying: climbing cliffs, jumping across deadly drops, it’s all simple, intuitive gameplay which stands the test of time well.

Graphics: 3/5 The HD revamp has given the games a fresh new look, however it can’t really compete with the visuals from current games on the market. Having said that,it puts up a good fight and is certainly a great incentive to part with your cash if you’ve never played the games before, or you just fancy a trip down memory lane.

Sound: 4/5 There are noticeable improvements in the games soundtrack and the familiar Tomb Raider tunes will put a smile on the face of the fans. The voicing acting can be laughable at times but it’s still good, in a cheesy sort of way.

Longevity: 3/5 We can’t be sure how many times you’ll be raiding those tombs but cool features like the developer diaries will mean the completionists out there get some interesting insight into how each one of these games we’re made. Going out of your way to find these little gems also adds another element of challenge and the stories are entertaining enough to warrant a second play though on hard mode.
Overall: 4 Raided Tombs out of 5

In summary this HD bundle is great value for money and it’s a great fan service. Past problems we’ve experienced in Lara’s adventures are easily over-looked and the gameplay, although a little tired, won’t disappoint.

Credits: http://www.tombraiderchronicles.com, http://newbreview.com

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