Tomb Raider Trilogy
Some of you may be wanting to catch up on the Tomb Raider mythos as of late. Either it’s because you’ve never played a Tomb Raider game, or you’re interested in preparing for the 2012 reboot. One way or the other, deep down, you just want that notch on your belt showing you ventured to see what the hype’s all about; keeping your eyes off the ‘twins’ in the process. Answering the call is Tomb Raider Trilogy.
For those in the aforementioned demographic, take note that this is the order you’d want to play the packaged three titles: Anniversary, Legend, and Underworld. Anniversary is the remake of the original Tomb Raider and, above all else, serves as the inaugural title to test whether the series might be to your liking. That means having to endure the necessary time consuming puzzles, slip falls, and tense combat; the three notorious identifiers of the series. Despite whatever frustrations may come, Anniversary is actually the title that has the most solid gameplay. Best auto-detection for grabbing ledges, excellent combat mechanics with auto-targeting and a “bullet-time” evade system that allows critical headshots, all this being more than enough to spoil and desensitize you to what awaits you in the next two installments.
Anniversary tends to drag due to its repetitive setting of tombs, however Legend keeps it fresh by showing how Lara can utilize her tomb raiding experience in taking on the world. From breaking and entering Yakuza hideouts, to sneaking around military compounds, and sparing enough time to speed through terrain on a motorcycle. Legend, unfortunately, did not make the proper transition to HD as the graphics are a tad grainy in comparison to its sister titles. Duly noted, is its two weapon limit and the absence of Anniversary‘s slowdown evade, which is a sure bummer. Despite the drawbacks, Legend still stands as the most entertaining of the three, all thanks to its choices in setting and environmental interaction. This was the only title I finished in one sitting and it might as well be considered the reward for enduring Anniversary.
Underworld, unfortunately doesn’t bring it all home. Marshalling its features of having to select one secondary weapon per mission, no spare ammo, bland combat, and having the worst auto detection of the three, Underworld only secures the odd bell curve that measures and defines the overall experience originating from the starting line of Anniversary. While the original’s remix can understandably have you taking breaks, Underworld will have you taking longer breathers. As I mentioned, Legend is an adrenaline rush that knows no bounds. But having to take on Underworld afterwards, with its return to repetitive, snail-paced dungeon sprawling, and a more vague sense of direction, makes Legend a pretty harsh set up for having your accumulated enjoyment crippled and tarnished. Underworld also ends on an extremely anti-climactic note, not just in terms of story, but gameplay. This is the only installment of the three that does not contain boss battles. Therefore, no final boss fight, only an illustrious puzzle to complete that fares a lot easier compared to the previous challenges you have faced. Had the 360 exclusives of Beneath the Ashes and Lara’s Shadow been included (you’d think they would), the game might not have short changed closure, leaving its player feeling numb with disbelief.
All three titles are also subjected to two common flaws. The first, load times are incredibly random. There are times when the game can load rather quickly following your death, and then there are times when it can be excruciatingly long. The second, there are bugs. In Anniversary, I remember I had to run through a hallway with clamping walls, but when I got there, the walls were unintentionally stuck shut resulting in forced suicide to fix the problem. In Legend, there was a point where I had to ride a lift in order to escape a pit, but I didn’t even know of its existence because it never appeared. Suicide again. Underworld harbors the most bugs. Some of them rather amusing, like inexplicably surviving a good hundred foot drop while on top of a motorcycle. Despite Lara’s death wail, I was still able to get off the bike and go about business as usual. Some hiccups were incredibly annoying, such as landing perfectly on a ledge and the game still believing that I fell to my death, as Lara clips into solid ground and dies instantly. Even worse, Underworld freezes from time to time, forcing me to restart my PS3 – could’ve sworn I wasn’t playing New Vegas.
Overall, Tomb Raider Trilogy doesn’t add up to educate players on the Lara Croft hype. Rather, it’s an example of how and why Lara fell behind the likes of today’s occult warriors, anti-hero gangsters, and the God of War himself. Either way, along with its bugs, players will still experience something and that is the enlightenment of why Lara lost her spotlight in the first place. Lost, no thanks to the developers who lost their way sacrificing so much in vain as they desperately tried to redefine and innovate their goddess. Being a 3-for-1 game is indeed a deal in its own right. But be warned, to venture the pocket timeline of Trilogy may spark high hopes of 2012 being Lara’s return to her former glory, or prove that there wasn’t any to begin with.