Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Review

Get those technicolour glasses ready because we’re venturing back to the mid-late 90s, where the Spice Girls were all the rage, Jamie Oliver’s cockney maw was discovered, and most revealingly, Lara Croft debuted featuring more cleavage than woman. Now over 25 years and four console generations later, the original Lara Croft adventures have returned courtesy of this remastered collection; the question is does Lara’s return give life to the three classics on display here, or should they have stayed in the 90s? 
This new Tomb Raider Collection is a budget-friendly remaster of all three original Tomb Raider games with all three stories in their complete and largely-unchanged forms, along with concessions including updated controls and graphics.  

The big problem many remasters of old games tend to possess is that they’re predicated on the past first, making any of the enhanced and upgraded features of a remaster a secondary concern. This Tomb Raider 32-bit anthology unfortunately falls into this very camp, providing players with archaic controls despite reworkings, dated level designs, and a minor, ineffectual and rather farcical visual “remaster”, although the animations look nice and crisp when you gaze at Lara leaping and acrobatically twisting and vaulting through the air. 

If you’re looking for a proper full-blown rejuvenation of these Lara Croft classics then you’ll be grossly disappointed. This is one ugly-looking remaster that’s hard to find worthwhile. Yes, the price is modest, but you’d have a more satisfying time squandering away £25 on a burger and chips than on these remasters, unless you really crave an authentic PS1-calibre experience, but c’mon – the burger and chips is more appetizing, right?

All jokes aside, the potential saving grace of this remaster collection is they can serve as lessons for post-1998 children, teaching them how dated and janky games from the mid-90s were crafted with manual saves, tacky imprecise physics, and – in the case of Tomb Raider – the thrill of shoving an unsuspecting butler into a freezer.

Sure, this collection caters to gamers who want that traditional and uncompromised raw Tomb Raider experience, but when the title boldly states “remaster”, then it’s not wrong to expect a polished refurbishment. Instead, the refinements made in this trilogy are subtle and otherwise submerged in the throngs of fifth-generation untidiness.

Be prepared for a shock when you boot any one of these games up, especially if you’re a confused five year-old caked in Fortnite cake batter like a messy little rascal, because the default controller configuration is set to “tank controls,” meaning that Jammy Jebediah won’t be able to make Lara walk in the direction he wants her to go. Redeemably, you can access the options menu and select modern controls, but even so Lara’s movement is still as reliable as driving a truck across an icy lake. Yet again, the emphasis for this remastered trilogy is on preserving the 32-bit experience as much as possible, and the vast likelihood is that adopters will already be well aware of the array of archaisms in this trilogy.

If the title didn’t give it away, the Tomb Raider Trilogy is about raiding tombs, but most of the time health pick-ups are the primary snatch-able items. Temples are spread across various countries and the puzzle challenges contain a lot of jumping and bounding around as though someone dropped a tarantula down Lara’s shorts, where she’ll activate switches to open doorways to the next area to proceed forward. 
Jumping and latching onto surfaces both feel out of date. Lara’s long leaps of faith don’t feel controllable, same goes for the grunts she makes when putting every inch of effort into her daring do’s. The way Lara uses her upper-body strength to force herself onto a platform gives us a crisp view of her shapely…umm…features…, but the slowness with which she becomes vertical is slightly patience-sapping.

Lara will need to dive underwater at times too, which can be finnicky and leave your fingers in knots whether ascending upwards or descending downwards inside of the drinks. Though it’s a pain having to rewire your expectations to cater for 25 year-old-plus games, the fact the awkwardness of the controls hasn’t been remedied is a disappointment.

Using Lara’s dual pistols on the wildlife is manageable, but without taut aiming provisions, it’s barely satisfying if at all. Lara is prime nibbles for the wolves, bats, spiders and grizzly bears she has to fend off in order to survive. A target reticule would’ve been a good addition at least, but there’s nothing of the sort.

If you fancy ogling at how Lara looked back in the day compared to her remastered self, then you can easily switch between the two like the feature was a flick of a light switch. Such additions can help you admire the visual changes, but seeing as they’re rather minute and insignificant, it’s unlikely to impress anybody except those who admire and appreciate the bare-minimum.


Sometimes relics should be left in the past, and unfortunately the Tomb Raider Remastered Collection is one of those cases. There is some worth in preserving the base experience of these 32-bit classics for a modern generation of consoles, but calling this collection remastered is negligible, as it’s only claim to such namesakes comes from slight visual improvements and slightly modernised controls. This collection is best served as a history lesson and would do well in a videogame museum, but although it’s pleasantly priced, there are games that cost less that are longer and offer so much more substance than this. Feel free to take the history lesson, but whereas the original three games were celebrated and rightly so at the time, in 2024 it’s a case of history dooming itself in the present.

This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.

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  • A great history lesson for non-gamers and children
  • The visual and control improvements are something
  • Pleasantly priced and there's a lot of content here
  • Negligible "remasters" that do very little to justify the term
  • Archaic platforming and action-despite the obvious intention to preserve the past
  • Nothing worthwhile beyond nostalgia
Written by
Although the genesis of my videogame addiction began with a PS1 and an N64 in the mid-late 90s as a widdle boy, Xbox has managed to hook me in and consume most of my videogame time thanks to its hardcore multiplayer fanaticism and consistency. I tend to play anything from shooters and action adventures to genres I'm not so good at like sports, RTS and puzzle games.

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