Tomb Raider I–III Remastered review: Great new visuals bogged down by outdated controls

Modern makeover of classic series offers wonderfully nostalgic experience but can be frustrating

Tomb Raider I–III Remastered allows players to switch between new graphics and the original from 1996. Photo: Aspyr
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Lara Croft has been one of PlayStation's most popular characters since her first appearance in 1996. After multiple Tomb Raider games over the past 27 years, the first three in the series have been remastered for a new generation to experience for the first time.

Developed and published by Aspyr for most modern consoles, the three titles are packaged as one with new additions that bring back the nostalgic experience of raiding tombs.

Tomb Raider, released in 1996, was a massive success for its publisher, Eidos, as well as the first PlayStation console. The game was one of the highest selling at the time, with more than seven million copies bought worldwide.

Tomb Raider I–III Remastered

Developer: Aspyr
Publisher: Aspyr
Console: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4&5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 3/5

The popularity of the series has grown with every new release, cementing Croft as one of the faces of adventure gameplay. The character also received two big screen adaptations in 2001 and 2003, Angelina Jolie portraying the daring protagonist.

In today’s gaming landscape, we test out playing the remastered Tomb Raider games and see whether or not they still stand up.

Old game, new graphics

The first generation of PlayStation games were a big leap in graphics from its predecessors. Using CDs rather than cartridges meant that more information could be stored, creating a more three-dimensional experience.

Graphic quality has since skyrocketed, with games today looking as close as possible to the real thing. Playing old games has thus becomes a jarring contrast, allowing for gaming developers to remaster some of their biggest hits for new audiences.

In recent years, games such as Crash Bandicoot, Resident Evil and Spyro have been remastered, allowing a new gaming experience from an old product that fits within today’s qualities and expectations.

Right from the start, it becomes obvious how much effort was put into making the Tomb Raider experience feel fresh on modern consoles. Croft's appearance looks polished and her surroundings are vibrant.

To a new user, the advancement of graphics makes it much easier to pick up and enjoy the game for what it is: a fun traversing platform and a puzzle-solving game.

For those who want a nostalgic blast from the past though, pushing one button reverts the graphics back to their original 1996 state. This option also allows users to compare the old and new in real time, seeing how much has changed.

This option to move between the two is perhaps the best thing about these remastered games and should be implemented by more developers on their future projects.

Let's talk about tank controls

Good controls can make a bad game worth playing, while bad controls can make some of the best games absolutely unplayable.

The advancement of controllers and consoles has meant game developers can improve on control options and make it malleable towards what players feel is most comfortable.

In the first Tomb Raider game, there were tank controls. The system requires the player to control the character independent of the position of the camera, making it a much more rigid experience.

To the modern gamer, tank controls are some of the most difficult to master. This is due to the different button layout that may be hard to get used to.

In the remastered games, the player has the option to choose tank or modern controls. While these might seem like a positive, the game was never designed with modern controls in mind.

Playing with tank and modern controls, it becomes evident that it would be a much better than before experience trying to master tank controls and playing rather than persisting through with modern controls.

At least with the original control layout and options, players can be fully immersed with what the developers and designers had in mind when creating the levels and challenges.


It's hard to explain just how important Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider games are. The character's popularity matches the likes of Super Mario and Sonic The Hedgehog.

The first three games are a fun experience that shows just how much adventure gaming has advanced over the years. Some of the most famous traversal games such as Uncharted and The Last of Us have borrowed elements from Tomb Raider.

For those looking to play the new Tomb Raider games, don’t expect to be wowed by them as they remain old games with a new coat of paint. The difficulty in adapting to the controls might become too frustrating for some, but for those wanting a nostalgic experience that has become a cornerstone of game design, look no further.

Updated: February 23, 2024, 6:02 PM
Tomb Raider I–III Remastered

Developer: Aspyr
Publisher: Aspyr
Console: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4&5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 3/5