Tomb Raider Trilogy ReviewLori May
If you've been living under a rock for the last decade, at least as far as the gaming industry is concerned, maybe you haven't heard of the powerhouse success that is the "Tomb Raider" franchise-or the compilation known as "The Tomb Raider Trilogy." This PlayStation 3 exclusive video game includes "Tomb Raider Legend," "Tomb Raider Anniversary" and "Tomb Raider Underworld" in one reasonably priced, handy HD bundle.
But is it worth shelling out for?
If you've never played the "Tomb Raider" series, this is the perfect place to start. With three separate video games rolled into one, there is plenty of value packed into this bundle. Long-time fans of the series shouldn't allow their collection to go without this one, though it's a shame this particular "Tomb Raider" title is only available for the PS3. This video game carries an ESRB rating of Teen, and the retail price is still lingering around $38 in the US.
Since the bundle offers three individual video games in the "Tomb Raider" series, let's take a look at each of them:
"Tomb Raider: Legend" was originally released in 2006 on a whole slew of platforms, including PS2. This title in particular offers great variety in the levels, and the storyline takes Lara to all corners of the world while she explores her past. With ten years having passed since the first "Tomb Raider" video game hit shelves, the game developers had plenty of time to make considerable changes-but the change needed arguably the most was an upgrade to the clunky controls implemented in the earlier titles. Fortunately, "Tomb Raider: Legend" is the first in the series to address the issue, making it a much more enjoyable ride for everyone.
As with all of the "Tomb Raider" titles, this one is full of puzzles of varied difficulty. These range from jumping hazards to switch puzzles and trap evasion, all of which work well with Lara's capacity for some serious aerial aerobics. That isn't to say that there isn't plenty of gunplay in this title; quite the opposite, and the slow motion effect makes combat even more satisfying.
This is a brief video game, however, so it's much more enjoyable when paired with two other titles in a bundle like "The Tomb Raider Trilogy." This is definitely one that will leave you wanting more, so plan accordingly!
Fans received "Tomb Raider: Anniversary" in 2007, and it outshined its 2006 predecessor. This one managed to pay homage to the legacy of the series, without neglecting the new content players craved. With this title, developer Crystal Dynamics took the series back to its roots-and managed to do so without boring fans with recycled content. The game is bigger, brighter and more challenging than the original "Tomb Raider" video game released in 1996. And Lara's model isn't the only graphics to receive a major overhaul; the environments are much more detailed than gamers originally experienced, even if the PS2 character models aren't as sharp as the latest technology for the PS3 can provide.
Lara's aerial acrobats take center stage in many of the video game's challenges, and the updated model looks fluid and natural. Once again, players search for the Scion of Atlantis as in the original, exploring tombs in Greece, Egypt and beyond. Only this time, thanks in part to the updates made in "Tomb Raider: Legend," Lara Croft is even more competent and wicked than ever before. Incredibly nimble and not afraid to wield a gun with the best of them, though even she can tumble awkwardly or narrowly avoid falling into a bottomless pit.
The formula is very close to the original "Tomb Raider" video game, which makes this part of "The Tomb Raider Trilogy" bundle perfect for die-hard fans or complete newbies to Lara's world. The former can revisit what hooked them on the series to begin with-all beautifully re-mastered for this new chapter-while the latter can enter the world of "Tomb Raider" as close to the original genesis of the story as possible, short of loading up the 1996 version.
The third video game included in "The Tomb Raider Trilogy" is "Tomb Raider: Underworld." This is the latest title to be released in the bundle, hitting the shelves in November of 2008, and the only one included to have been available on the PS3 from launch. Unfortunately, this title performs with less sparkle than the other two, especially since by now Crystal Dynamics should have repaired the camera issues associated with the series. Pair this with a sub-par storyline and cheesy dialog, and "Tomb Raider: Underworld" becomes far from the best in the "Tomb Raider" franchise.
However, that isn't to say that this portion of the bundle isn't enjoyable. Lara received even more butt-kicking moves with this upgrade, which seemed to be a modest attempt add some new life to the heroine, but unfortunately the effect falls flat of dazzling. This title is also very dark, in terms of the themes of the plot line and the deep, dank tombs which Lara explores throughout the game. The new visual cues embedded in the game to help direct game play are a nice element as far as the pleasure of exploring is concerned, but it doesn't quite make up for the frustrating camera and clip problems.
Modern technology hasn't escaped the game's star, and with this chapter Lara now has a PDA which can be used to access a tips system if you're confused about one of the enjoyable-despite-being-formulaic puzzles. The PDA is waterproof, of course, which comes in handy since there are a good variety of underwater locations in the mix. At least there's that, right?
In conclusion, "The Tomb Raider Trilogy" is definitely worth picking up if you're a fan of the series, but it's also not a bad place to start if you want to cut your teeth on this monumental franchise. Lara Croft remains one of the most popular video game female leads of all time, and this Action Adventure series is great about combining puzzles with physical challenges and decent combat. While "Tomb Raider: Underworld" sits at a moderately disappointing 6/10 rating, "Tomb Raider: Anniversary" and "Tomb Raider: Legend" are upwards in the 7.5/10 region, making this bundle easily an 7.5/10 rated choice. Not too bad for the old girl, huh?
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.