This year’s critically and commercially acclaimed Tomb Raider took the iconic series and heroine in a brave new direction, but the young naïve 21 year old it stars isn’t the Lara Croft fans have come to know and love over the last 17 years. That Lara is a trash-talking, gunslinging, hot pants wearing bombshell, and if you don’t know her too well then I suggest you pick up the Tomb Raider Trilogy, a compilation of three of the series’ best entries, which regularly sells for less than $20 these days.
The PS3 exclusive Tomb Raider Trilogy includes 2008’s Tomb Raider: Underworld, as well as HD remasters of 2008’s Tomb Raider: Anniversary and 2006’s Tomb Raider: Legend. Whether you’ve played any one of these titles – or especially if you haven’t played any of them – this compilation is an easy buy for adventure fans.
Underworld is the most graphically impressive title in the bunch. The campaign takes Lara through a variety of huge, sprawling and gorgeous environments. From the very beginning of the game, when you’re dumped in the middle of the shark ridden Mediterranean Sea to the ruins of southern Mexico and to every other beautiful locale, the game never lets up on the action and intrigue.
One of the most interesting things about Underworld is how little hand-holding it does. Throughout the game, the player is expected to figure out some large scale puzzles and the feeling of accomplishment you win after succeeding is definitely worth it. This game allows you to truly explore and discover things in its huge and fantastic locations. You’ll feel excited, ambitious and often terrified as you traverse the grand settings. The platforming here has to be some of the tightest the series has ever seen, and navigating the tall structures and ruins feels easy and natural.
The game’s story, which pertains to the death of Lara’s parents and a journey to the realm of the Gods to find closure, is also fairly interesting. Once you finish the game you can go back through in the Treasure Hunt mode, in which your only goal is to scour the gorgeous environments for all of the collectibles in the game. If that isn’t your thing, there’s also an art gallery which includes promo and teaser trailers for the title.
With its meaty campaign, tight game-play and gorgeous environments, Tomb Raider: Underworld alone is worth the meager price of the Tomb Raider Trilogy. But there are two more excellent games here.
Legend looks better than ever running on the PS3 and it too is filled with huge gorgeous environments ripe for exploring. Legend is also the only one of the games in the compilation that I’d played before buying it – which puts the idea that this collection is only a good buy for nostalgia’s sake to shame. It features the same exciting platforming as Underworld, and it also throws in QTEs that are actually pretty fun since they’re used so infrequently and effectively.
The action flick style motorcycle scenes and Lara’s constant wisecracking are awesome. The story here continues into Underworld, so you’ll want to pay attention if you plan on understanding everything that happens. Lara’s humor and wit is as fun as ever and there’s a unique slow-motion mechanic blended into the combat.
Like Legend, Anniversary makes its PS3 debut as part of the Tomb Raider Trilogy. When I first saw this game, it was running on the PS2. Imagine my surprise when I saw how much better the game looks on the PS3! It can’t hold its own against Underworld, but the game looks nearly on par with Legend. And of course, it’s crammed with several more hours worth of puzzles, gunplay, action and exciting locales. Of course, it’s also filled with puzzles, action and exciting locales.
Compared to the stylish slow-mo action of Legend and the relatively advanced melee combat of Underworld, Anniversary feels more like a proper classic Tomb Raider experience. The thrilling Indiana Jones vibe of the series is intact. The music in all of these games is notable, as it is orchestral and provokes senses of wonder and excitement. It sounds similar to stuff you’d hear in some movie soundtracks.
You can expect to spend a combined two dozen hours or more completing all of the campaigns, but it will take much longer to collect and unlock everything. Each of the games keeps track of how well you perform in each of the stages, and this promotes replay value. How fast can you clear this stage? Did you find all the artifacts in that stage?
On top of the lengthy campaigns, tons of collectibles and waves of unlockables in each of the games, the Tomb Raider Trilogy adds in a ton of extras compared to the original releases of the included games. Each of the titles has trophy support, for a total of more than 100 trophies and a whopping three platinum trophies. Each of the games has tons of things to collect and complete. There’s also concept art and extras to gaze at and unlockable costumes.
More new content on this disc includes several developer diaries, which provide an interesting and enlightening look into the creation of titles in one of gaming’s best known series. As if all of that wasn’t enough, there’s also a premium theme and PlayStation Home avatars right on the disc. In terms of sheer value, this is probably one of the richest titles this column has focused on.
Tomb Raider Trilogy represents the best entries in one of gaming’s most iconic franchises, and at that price it’s a no brainer.