While we wait for the next official installment of Tomb Raider, Crystal Dynamics has compiled its first three Tomb Raider games in one convenient package. The result is a compilation that is 1/3 amazing, 1/3 good, and 1/3 mediocre.
Legend is the oldest of the three and it really shows its age on the PS3 version. The upscaling on the PS3 looks really weird thus making it the ugliest of the three. The game is also criminally short with 7 main stages that take mere minutes to finish once you get the flow. It's the most diverse of the three featuring bike riding (yuck), turret shooting, and lots of action sequences. Variety may be the spice of life but Legend is not what Tomb Raider fans necessarily want in a Tomb Raider game, Anniversary explains it why.
Released in 2007, Tomb Raider Anniversary is a remake of the original 1996 classic Tomb Raider. The crown jewel of this collection, Anniversary is clearly the game with the most polish of the three. The game boils down essentially what a Tomb Raider game should be, lots of platforming and death defying stunts, little to no human-on-human violence, and an excellent sense of being alone in a desolate place. Of the three it sits in the middle for best looking, it is upscaled much better than Legend with a much cleaner look. While nostalgia freaks of the original scoff at Anniversary's trimmings of the original, the end result faithfully recreates the original while brining it in to the modern age. With less long stretches and non memorable areas removed.
Tomb Raider Underworld is the native HD game of the three and story-wise is a continuation of Legend's tale. While it is the best looking, Underworld sets itself as the worst of the three games for various reasons. Lara has more animations in this game but none of them feel right. The controls are iffy at best and glitches are everywhere. You would think that the developers would have fixed Underworld's numerous flaws by now but that's not the case. Falling 15 feet seems to mean doom for Lara in this game and there are times where you'll even be stuck in mid-air for no reason. Again this is to be blamed by adding a bunch of animations that did not need to be done. They were going for a more organic, realistic game but this is not the case. On the Xbox 360, Tomb Raider Underworld got two extra levels as DLC, none of them appear on this PS3 re-release which really makes the game and package half-assed. Add to the glitches and bugs, Underworld does not have even a third of bonus content that Legend and Anniversary posses. No Time Trials, no Croft Manor puzzle stage, no unlockable costumes.
The compilation is priced right and you'll get some fine adventuring here to last for a while. Legend and Anniversary will keep you replaying stages (especially Anniversary's Time Attack on its later stages) and extra content while you'll probably just fly through Underworld and never touch it again.
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