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The Tomb Raider Trilogy Review

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On 05/20/2011 at 12:17 AM by Bradley Osburn

A great entrance for newcomers to the series with one outdated exception.

For anyone looking to get into Tomb Raider and willing to put up with a mixed bag.

For all two of you reading this who have no idea who Lara Croft is, let’s get this out of the way real quick. A curvy British noble, she scoffs at tea parties and aristocratic protocol, preferring to spend her days raiding tombs and finding treasures. She has been flipping around ruins and wearing tiny shorts since the olden days of the original Playstation. Also she shoots dinosaurs, but it’s not a big deal.

The Tomb Raider Trilogy is a tough nut. As a newcomer who has always been peripherally familiar with the franchise it was a perfect opportunity for me to get to know the lovely Lara. I found it equally enjoyable and unfortunately endurable. These games have been around for a while so I’ll provide three mini reviews here and finish up with my opinions on the package as a whole.

The first game on the disk is Tomb Raider: Legend. This game was the most recently released of the three, back in ’06. And the fact that it was built for last gen consoles definitely shows. It was pretty well-received back in the day but I didn’t find it to "hold up too well under my refined modern sensibilities," he said sarcastically. As always, it plays as an action adventure game, with lots of shooting and climbing throughout.

My problems with it are probably in line with what every modern gamer is going to experience. Often the camera does not work in the player’s favor. There were several instances when I would scale a cliff only to have Lara leap back down because the camera decided to flip around, throwing off my orientation. The graphical upgrade is not substantial. It certainly looks better than it did originally, but having things like planks of hair is pretty underwhelming when you compare it to today’s individual strand physics.

The combat is severely lacking. Auto-aiming is your only option with firearms and many times you’ll think Lara might need corrective lenses, or that perhaps she would have better luck just tossing the gun at her enemies. Physical combat is very odd. I rolled past a sentry as he fired at me and a small tap of Lara’s foot sent him flying up a rock wall and careening off into a small ravine. Rag doll physics taken to the extreme. Also, every guard is exactly the same within an area. In small cutscenes, you begin to wonder why so many twins want Lara dead. Perhaps they’re all clones…, or maybe the developers were just working with what they had.

The second game on the disk is Tomb Raider: Anniversary, a remake of the Playstation original. What a wonderful opportunity for a newcomer like myself to experience the game that started it all. It turned out to be pretty “meh.” The game itself is solid enough, definitely more playable than Legend, but I was just bored. I kept thinking to myself that I could just be playing Uncharted instead, which runs smoother, is more fun and looks miles better. Also I’m allowed to aim in that game. Lara is still tethered to an auto-aim, but thankfully she’s a bit of a better shot this time around. The story is interesting enough I suppose, but there just wasn’t enough there to make me care. Maybe back when I was a kid it would have been different. Lara also looks like Angelina Jolie here. It’s slightly unsettling.

The last game to be found is Tomb Raider: Underworld, and this one I kind of enjoyed. It was released back at the end of 2008 and picks up after Legend. Being the most recent it looks much better and plays a little more like what I’m used to, meaning Lara feels less like a car and more like a person. The camera is still a bit of a problem, as it apparently has been since day one. Can I repeat again how much I hate auto-aim? I hate auto-aim. The combat is easier here though, and I actually enjoyed the puzzles. The first real stage involves a massive octopus beast and, being terrified of the ocean and all the death it holds, it managed to successfully creep me right out. Also, I’m a sucker for Norse mythology, so a game about finding Thor’s hammer is enough to keep me interested.

So, all that being said, the collection isn’t bad. I just have no idea who I’d recommend it to. If you’re a diehard Tomb Raider fan then you likely already own these. If not then I can’t in good conscience tell you to endure Legend for the rest, especially since you can pick up Underworld for $15 pretty much anywhere, though it is a direct sequel. So if you want a crummy previous gen game, a fairly decent current gen game and a respectable remake of the game that started it all then I guess this collection is for you. If not then the $40 entrance fee might still be a little steep.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Nick DiMola Director

05/20/2011 at 11:11 AM

"I kept thinking to myself that I could just be playing Uncharted instead, which runs smoother, is more fun and looks miles better."

Reading this cracked me up. I played some before I sent it over to you and I'm pretty sure I said the exact same thing to Chessa while I was playing it. Whatever you are going to spend on this game you are better off spending on the far superior Uncharted 2.

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