Nostalgia with a Few Scratches: Is Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Worth the Dig?

The remastered version of one of the most popular games in arcades during the early 2000s has been released. The game we played on the legendary Sony Playstation One console with modern visuals

by Sededin Dedovic
Nostalgia with a Few Scratches: Is Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Worth the Dig?
© MKIceAndFire / Youtube channel

In the dimly lit depths of local arcades at thelate 90's and beginning of the 2000s, a video game that would later turn out to be legendary stood out: Tomb Raider. On top of a wall decorated with colorful game covers, it beckoned with an air of mystery, something that today's generation of kids will never experience.

Back then, it was said among the first players of Sony's revolutionary Playstation One console that Tomb Raider was the "hardest game" in the arcade. However, with the recent arrival of the Tomb Raider I-III Remastered collection, curiosity has rekindled, whether the game will be exactly the same, only with better graphics, or whether the developers will make an effort and provide us with a completely new experience with modern visual performance.

The Remastered Trilogy brings together all three original titles and their additions, offering the most comprehensive package to date. The opening movie portrays Lara Croft as a ruthless warrior who kills everything that gets in her way.

However, narrative exposition is often lacking, throwing you straight into the story or locations shrouded in ambiguity. Unlike modern games, you'll rarely find useful audio tracks or environmental clues, which require exploration and deduction to navigate the world.

On the one hand, this is positive, because it will awaken nostalgic feelings among experienced fans of the series, but because of this, the game could quickly get boring.

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered 1996 vs 2024© IGN / Youtube channel

While there are visual and UI tweaks, they are minor.

The experience harkens back to a time when different levels defined adventure, with each section offering a unique challenge. Certain jumps, like flips and side jumps, become more complex, and the controls occasionally defy your commands.

Disappointingly, there's minimal level redesign or rebalancing, meaning the new controls may even hinder progress in some cases. The lack of any tutorial or instructions in the game adds to the frustration, especially for newcomers who are not aware that Lara has her own training rooms in the early parts of the game.

This can be a problem for experienced players as well, and it seems completely unbelievable that a tutorial was not included and that the instructions and training during the game were removed. The fight remains largely intact.

After drawing her pistols, Lara automatically targets the nearest enemy, except when too close or behind her. These scenarios require quick maneuvering to properly lock on and eliminate enemies before they do the same. Classic evasion continues, but lacks the effectiveness of modern iterations, making continuous fire with auto-aim a safer, if less engaging, approach.

This is a big minus, because nowadays, after so many years, the game had to contain the characteristics of a modern game when it comes to aiming and shooting. Save points are manual, requiring frequent quick saves as the game lacks autosave.

Sometimes you can play through a lot of the game and forget to record the game and then unexpectedly lose. This was the culprit for many broken joysticks in the days of PS1 memory cards.

Tomb Raider 1 Remastered Gameplay© Steven3517 / Youtube channel

The audio largely adheres to the original compositions, receiving sleek modern hardware, allowing players to experience Lara's original voice acting.

The music, while great, suffers from the occasional fumbling of battle themes that linger even after the battle is over, hindering immersion. All this tells us that maybe the developers were in a hurry to release all three parts of the remaster without too much focus on quality.

Probably, the popularity of the very name Tomb Raider Lara Croft was their confidence that the game would succeed. Visually, a key feature of each remaster is the ability to switch between the original and updated graphics.

However, the developers' efforts backfired here. The excessively dark shadows applied to the remastered textures make navigating the environments a constant struggle. The game's lack of a torch or flashlight only exacerbates this problem, forcing frequent transitions to the original, pixelated visuals just to see where you're going.

Sometimes you really don't see where you're going, which is a totally unacceptable and unbelievable mistake. The overall impression is that the game received a graphical facelift without any significant technical improvements or quality improvements.

The cinematics are the same as in the original game, only slightly improved. In conclusion, Tomb Raider I-III Remastered is especially aimed at those who are nostalgic for the original trilogy. Younger generations who are not familiar with the game will certainly have a lot of frustration when dying unexpectedly or in completely dark corridors.

The game had high expectations, but in the end it can be given a rating of 5/10, even though it lacks some of the main features of remastered video games.