This new trend of combining older titles into one neat HD package is becoming commonplace and I, for one, support it. It is nice to return to these classic titles the same way you remember them. The latest offering for Sony’s console is the Tomb Raider Trilogy, which combines all three of Crystal Dynamic’s efforts into one neat blu-ray package. What we end up with is an amazing trilogy of games that, if you missed upon initial release, are a steal at $39.99.
Included in the package we have Legend, Anniversary and the most recent, Underworld. Now, of those three, one of them has already been released on the PS3, so including it was most likely just to round out the compilation. There are no upgrades visually to Underworld, nor are there any added features. It is the same game out of the box as it was by itself. It is also worth noting that Underworld is the best of the bunch, so if you have already played it, its inclusion won’t change your added value.
As for the other two titles, this is where the updates are. Originally released for PS2 (as well as Xbox 360) these games have received a nice set of visual upgrades. Now, you may be wondering if you played the games on Microsoft’s console, should you bother. Well I want to be clear that the 360 versions of both Anniversary and Legend were simply upscaled ports of the PS2 iteration. For this trilogy, they have been completely re-worked and look fantastic in their HD glory.
Let’s start with the oldest and most unpolished of the package: Legend. Being the first game developed by Crystal Dynamics, Legend was a huge leap forward for the series, removing the tank controls and giving Lara a true 3D open world to explore. When it was released, Legend was a breath of fresh air in a stale field of adventure games. It was also the best thing to happen to the series since its inception. By today’s standards though, the game feels buggy and choppy at times with some truly wonky physics thrown in for good measure. When it released, I remember being so impressed with the direction Crystal D was going, but as you progress to the next game, you see it was only the beginning.
Anniversary is arguably the most interesting of the collection, simply because it is a complete remake of the original Tomb Raider, and because it is the one that gamers are least likely to have already played. You can see the inspirations started in Legend materialize with Anniversary. Things like the grappling hook and removing tank controls make it feel like a brand new experience for fans of the series. It also benefits from upgraded visuals and looks fantastic running on your HDTV. For me, this was the highlight of the package, but only because I played Underworld so recently.
That brings us to easily the best piece of the collection, and sadly the biggest reason Trilogy is such a hard sell for Tomb Raider fans. You see, Underworld is relatively recent, and fans of the series have likely already plowed through this game. This iteration has nothing added or any visual changes, making it simply an added bonus for fans to be able to trade in their old copies. Of course, it is nice to have access to three games on one disc, but let’s be honest; fans of the series will likely never touch Underworld as part of this collection.
As far as new stuff is concerned, the only added features outside of HD visuals are the inclusion of a PS3 theme, some Home items and of course, trophy support. Funny enough, these additives also come with a cost. When the older games save your profile or unlock a trophy the game stutters for a few seconds, and has even locked up occasionally.
Tomb Raider Trilogy is hard to gauge as far as suggesting whether or not you should purchase it. Hardcore Tomb Raider fans likely already own all three of these titles, and the updated HD versions on 360. Then, there is an audience that has only played Underworld in which case I highly recommend giving these re-tooled versions a go. If you have never played a TR game, this is the perfect stepping stone, but finding that audience can be as challenging as some of the puzzles in the games. This collection is excellent for so many reasons and yet such a hard sell for so many others.
Review copy provided by publisher.