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All Posts, White Owl

Author Guest Post: Daryl Baxter

Happy Valentine’s Day! Yes, it’s a day of romance, food and cuddling up to watch some iconic Netflix true crime documentaries — but it’s also the ‘birthday’ of a certain gaming heroine.

It’s very likely that you’ve heard of Lara Croft. Or, at least, locking the butler in a certain freezer. Since the first game debuted way back in October 1996, the series has become an iconic video game series.

So what better way to celebrate 28 years of Lara Croft, than with a remastered collection. Yes, Tomb Raider I-III Remastered is finally here! For anyone unfamiliar, this is a re-release of the first three games, alongside their respective expansion packs, which were exclusively brought to the PC in the late 90s. The engine that powers these games has been updated for 2024, as well as offering a brand new look for Lara and the levels — but you can switch between this and the classic 90s look if you wish, by the press of a button.

Now, you may have heard that there’s a book that documents the making of the first two games, which are included in this remaster. As the author of said book, seeing the trilogy be shared on countless sites, YouTube channels and more, hits different to me than it may have to others who are about to rediscover Lara’s classic adventures.

To add to this, I was lucky enough to be given early access to Tomb Raider I-III Remastered toward the end of January, and I’ve been playing through every game on my handheld console, the Steam Deck, ever since. I even uploaded a preview of my impressions earlier this month, as well as my deep-dive on Tom’s Guide, which went live earlier today.

Admittedly, I haven’t played the games as much as this, ever since I was writing the book back in 2020 when the United Kingdom was mostly in lockdown, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So moments such as the T-Rex in TR1, or the boat in TR2, all felt new thanks to these remastered graphics.

Part of the charm of Tomb Raider is also how it feels to control Lara. The original team responsible for the two games, told me in the book that Toby Gard, the series’ original creator, was inspired by the 2D-platformer Prince of Persia, which is why Lara controls as she does in these three games. And I’m glad that the original control scheme is here. This remaster does offer ‘Modern Controls’, which allows you to freely control Lara — but I’ve admittedly found this awkward to use, especially when it comes to lining up those long jumps.

But this collection also made me enjoy TR3 all over again. While it was only mentioned towards the end of the book, I’ve gotten to know the team who were responsible for making the game back in 1998, thanks to hosting a TR3 dev talk in Derby last year.

During this talk, one of the level designers, Richard Morton, revealed how he made the ‘TARDIS’ UFO in the Area 51 level, where it looked small on the outside, but became a huge area as soon as Lara climbed in. Yes, this sequel’s reputation as a ‘challenging game’ still rings true here, but that’s part of what has made TR3 all kinds of fun in its own right.

Overall though, I’ve loved playing this collection, and it shows how a good game can still hold up, almost 30 years since its release. Finally, I should mention: I’ve been asked if I’m working on a follow-up to ‘The Making of Tomb Raider’. All I can say for now is, who knows. But I’d love to see Aspyr, the developers of this remaster, take on TR4-6 next, and give these games the time and attention that Tomb Raider I-III Remastered has clearly been given.

For now though, it’s an excellent revisit to the games that made Lara iconic, as well as locking Winston in the freezer, all over again.

Order your copy of The Making of Tomb Raider here.