The Tomb Raider Trilogy (PS3) Review

That’s A Lot Of Tombs To Raid

The latest in the high definition collection craze has landed and this time it’s a high quality trilogy of games for the fans to consume. The Tomb Raider Trilogy takes Tomb Raider: Legend, Tomb Raider: Anniversary and Tomb Raider: Underworld, squeezing them all onto one Blu-Ray disc. For those wondering whether to buy, in this case, the decision is easy.  If you like these games, there might just be enough here to convince you to pick up the collection.

They Clean Up Well

Unlike other collections, this bundle of games isn’t a straight up mashing of titles from the past generation. Tomb Raider: Legend is the only true game that fits that description, with Tomb Raider: Anniversary already being a “face lift” title of the original PS1/Saturn Tomb Raider original, while Tomb Raider: Underworld was actually released for current generation consoles in 2008. This means that Underworld is completely unchanged from its initial release. The other two games have already appeared in high def versions on the Xbox 360, but this is the first time the trilogy has appeared on the PS3 in the wake of the console losing its backwards compatibility.

The biggest things to take note of are in the visual and audio departments. Like the 360 versions, Anniversary and Legend have gotten higher resolution textures and they’ve have their aspect ratios tweaked to comfortably fit modern 16:9 widescreen TVs. For the most part, these are solid ports, although the frame rate occasionally stutters in cut-scenes, but it’s reliably smooth during actual gameplay. This is the best that the two games have ever looked and it’s a noticeable jump in quality for people that remember the original PS2 versions. Sound is a real treat, especially for people that think cinematic games need to use the subwoofer a lot. Dolby Digital surround sound has been used for the games, and it frequently makes use of a lot of bass that can shake the house when massive, ancient stone doors are sliding open. The actual sounds of the fire arms still doesn’t carry the same punch as in a focused, first person shooter, but the surround effects of cavernous temples and jungle clearings with waterfalls makes good use of a multi-speaker set up.

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In the gameplay department there’s little to say. These are still the same great games that they originally were when released. Legend is a good, playable game that corrects the mistakes of the Core’s disastrous Angel of Darkness debut on the PS2, and Anniversary updates the original with the fluid mechanics of Legend to make a classic game digestible for people that can’t stomach PS1 graphics clunky controls from the 90s. Underworld concludes the trilogy—as the games were all loosely connected with an overarching narrative concerning Lara Croft’s search for the truth about her mother’s ultimate fate—and it keeps the momentum going with the same elegant—if old fashioned by modern standards—mix of exploration and puzzle solving with some occasional combat. This has never been a series about gunplay, although many look to Uncharted as the Tomb Raider killer despite the franchises taking drastically different approaches to the ratio of combat versus exploration. Tomb Raider has always been a largely isolated experience that tries to convey to players the sense of being the first human being to walk in a ruined space in centuries, whereas Uncharted is largely about cover-based shooting mechanics.

The bottom line is none of these games are weak, they all offer hours of entertainment, look good, have some quality gameplay, and are bundled together at the price of $40. This is definitely a worthy buy for many people, particularly those who never played the games before. But even for those that already own the titles the convenience of having them one disc, with full trophy support for every game and wide-screen/Dolby Digital treatment might be enough to tempt you. It’s a quality collection, and price is definitely right.