Tomb Raider made its grand debut way back in 1996, and since then we've seen loads of releases across a ton of different platforms - including a few movie entries to boot. However, in the almost-three decades since its debut we've never seen the original trilogy on Xbox - until now in the form of Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered.

So, we've been taking a look at these stone cold classics on Xbox Series X - with a focus on how developer Aspyr has handled the remastering process. All in all we have mixed feelings on this package, but its low price point and faithfulness to the original trilogy leads to a positive experience overall, albeit not one without its blemishes.

First of all let's break down exactly what you get in this bundle. As the title suggests, the first three Tomb Raider titles are included here — launched in 1996, 1997 and 1998 respectively — alongside three expansion packs. All three games and their DLC are present in both their original and remastered forms, and you can toggle between the two visual modes with the press of a button just like in Halo: The Master Chief Collection.


As for Aspyr's goals with this remaster, the team has gone with a less-is-more sort of approach to sprucing up these 90's classics. These aren't remakes or anything of the sort - they're modernised versions of PS1-era third-person adventures, so it's best not to expect major upgrades. Textures have been re-worked, more 3D models have been added (including a vastly superior Lara model) and generally speaking the new visuals do a good job at bringing the original trilogy into the modern era.

However, the visuals aren't perfect - we have a few issues to note here. The biggest problem we've faced playing this collection so far has been the game's approach to lighting. While the lighting techniques used in the originals are quite rudimentary, they often served their purpose in showing you where you should head and which areas aren't to be explored. At times this is lost when you toggle the remastered visuals on - and we often found ourselves switching back to the original graphics when we couldn't quite make out where to go next.

Here's Tomb Raider 3 in both its remastered and original form.

This confusion also extends to the game's overall brightness level. As far as we can tell there are no video options within this collection, and the game is just a bit too dark at times, especially when playing in the new visuals mode. We've seen this sort of thing crop up before when games are emulated on different hardware and it could be a similar case here, although we're not 100% on that. Alas, we also had to use the 'switch back to the original visuals' technique during certain segments just to navigate properly.

Elsewhere, the new graphics do a decent job. It's quite hard to re-capture the atmosphere of the original Tomb Raider games but this new remaster mostly succeeds - bar a few levels where things just don't look quite right in the new graphics mode. As this is the first time the original trilogy has appeared on Xbox we're glad you can still play with the old graphics enabled, although we'd have liked a 60FPS option for them. At release the old graphics run at 30FPS and the new ones at 60, which is a little jarring when switching back and forth.


Thankfully, the game's new 'Modern Controls' option is a godsend - it's probably the biggest reason to revisit these classics in this new remastered package. Just like the visuals, you can toggle between this new gameplay option and the old '90s tank controls - but the modern control scheme makes for a much more contemporary experience overall. They're not totally modernised and you can tell the team has been careful to keep the original feel intact (you'll still spend ages lining up those jumps), but just navigating the environment and getting around the place is much smoother with the modern controls switched on.

One other area we'd like to shout out here is the audio. Some of the sound cues spread across these three titles hit right in the nostalgia feels, and we'd forgotten just how important the sound design is to the OG Tomb Raider experience. Musical numbers only crop up every now and then and when they do they usually slap, and some of the other sound effects are just *chef's kiss*. We're happy to report that the team has nailed the sound design here - it sticks to the original blueprint and continues to add so much to the overall experience.


In lots of areas the original Tomb Raider trilogy hasn't aged all that well. Objectives are often vague, the controls are clunky and combat is usually a crapshoot, but these are still absolute classics for their time - they've informed one of gaming's most popular genres in a massive way over the last 30 years or so. For better or for worse, the first three Tomb Raider games have returned in an authentic way via this new package.

Aspyr's remastered collection doesn't reinvent these classics by any means, and that was probably the best route to take here. While we don't agree with every decision the team has made, these remasters manage to retain the feel of the original trilogy, and options like the classic visuals toggle and a modern control scheme make this well worth a play - especially on Xbox where all three games are making their debuts!