Tomb Raider 1 Remastered — a perfect PS5 remastering of an icon

In this Tomb Raider 1 Remastered review, I will detail how the first game in the Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered series holds up and if it's a nostalgia hit on PS5.

Tomb Raider 1 Remastered — a perfect PS5 remastering of an icon
Sean Lawson

Sean Lawson

Published

We can finally start earning those Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered trophies in all of their glory, and boy — what a joy they are to earn. While there were a lot of expectations on my behalf, I am overjoyed to tell you in this Tomb Raider 1 Remaster review that the game pretty much knocked them all out of the park. Seriously, this entry in the franchise is going to rank highly in our Tomb Raider series ranking!

SeanL

Tomb Raider 1 Remastered is a nostalgia hit like no other

For those who are unfamiliar with Tomb Raider 1, the game follows Lara Croft — a badass British woman who has a taste for danger. Lara has a passion for uncovering ancient artifacts that are usually buried at the bottom of deadly tombs filled with all sorts of nasty and life-ending traps. Hearing of Lara's impeccable skills, a woman named Natla hires her to uncover an ancient artifact known as the Scion of Atlantis. What follows is a series of betrayals, gunfights, dinosaurs attacks, and tombs getting raided.
I don't even think I have the words to describe how overwhelmed (in the best way possible) and happy I am to be replaying this title through a modern lens. The original Tomb Raider series is one of my all-time favorite video game franchises and holds a very special and important place in my heart. Tomb Raider was a big part of my childhood. Seeing a female character be the front and center of a video game and not a damsel in distress was inspiring and helped build me into who I am today. It gave me a lot of strength that I needed growing up.

Any form of a remaster for these games would come under heavy scrutiny from me. However, Aspyr has knocked it out of the park, delivering exactly what I wanted for this incredible franchise. So, kudos to the team who helped craft this magnificent remastering of a classic trilogy.

Tomb Raider 1-3 RemasteredTomb Raider 1-3 Remastered is a perfect gem to me

Before I had even clicked 'New Game' I was already feeling quite emotional. This was a surprise to me as I wasn't expecting to be hit in the feels just from the main menu. However, here I am. Sitting at the main menu of Tomb Raider, feeling emotional as the soundtrack sends me hurtling back through time to when I was just a young lad. This title screen looked just like it did when I was a kid (granted with much smoother graphics this time around).

Hopping into the game for the first time and the same thing can be said for the levels themselves. Everything is identical in layout to the PS1 games, with nothing altered or changed in the slightest. Enemy placement, item locations, and levers are all exactly where they were originally. I honestly could not ask for much more than this. For years, all I have wanted is to see the original trilogy updated with modern graphics, but I still want the games to play exactly how they used to. So, thank you Aspyr for making that dream of mine come true.

Even the music is untouched, with the same sound effects being used when you uncover a secret (something that I have used as a text tone for years at this point). Uncovering astounding locations is still met with that classic main menu music chiming up and allowing you to just sit and be in awe of your surroundings. Perfection, it's literal perfection and an absolute nostalgia hit like no other.

Tomb Raider 1-3 RemasteredTomb Raider 1-3 Remastered can be enjoyed even further thanks to modern controls

SeanL

Modern graphics bring a fresh perspective on the items in the tombs

The new graphics add an air of freshness to the game, while not diminishing any of that nostalgia I have continually waffled on about so far. Everything looks fantastic, yet also still a little rough around the edges — it feels like how the original graphics look in your head, rather than how they are. It's truly an impressive thing Apsyr has pulled off here. I'm truly mesmerized by these remasters every time I jump into them.

The ability to be able to swap between modern graphics and PS1 graphics with the click of a button is something I really appreciate. It was nice being able to see just how much effort Apsyr has put into modernizing these Tomb Raider games. However, the thing I most appreciate is finally being able to tell what all of those low poly objects were that were present in my PS1 playthrough, so I've definitely been using the remastered graphics more regularly.

I would have never known that some of the objects I found in these tombs were supposed to be plates, statues, or mummies. They were just too pixilated and looked like strange blobs that weirdly rotated to face me every time I turned around. Needless to say, the game makes far more sense now than what I used to think as a kid. When I found these items in my younger days I used to say "oh look, horse poo." So, yeah, at least I know that's not what's been lingering in these tombs all this time.

Tomb RaiderTomb Raider's refined controls are an absolute treat

SeanL

Gameplay brings the PS1 vibes with a modern day twist

Ah, "Tank controls" — the classic control method that made character movement in PS1 games like Tomb Raider and Resident Evil feel so weird and rigid. Some of you may love them. Some of you may hate them. I fall into the latter category and have never really jelled with them.

Even as a kid I struggled to have Lara jump in the way I wanted her to or even just turn a corner. Thankfully, the modernized controls in this new remaster make platforming so much more manageable. However, just like the tank controls, they do take a slight bit of time to get used to.

Now that I've adapted to these new modern controls, I'll never be picking up those tank controls again. I am so used to Lara no longer feeling like she has a bunch of weights strapped to her feet — she feels much lighter and agile than she did originally.

While all of this is well and good, there are some puzzles that are easier with tank controls to complete as they require you to pull off a specific style of jumping that can only be achieved through the tank controls. The modern controls take away the ability to perform precision jumps.

So, you may find yourself flitting between the two controller types here and there. However, all in all, the modernized controls are a breath of fresh air and my personally favorite way of playing the game.

Tomb Raider 1-3 RemasteredTomb Raider 1-3 Remastered

SeanL

Lara's Home returns to teach you the basics

One of the most iconic game modes we can dive into outside of the story is Lara's Home. In this game mode, we can explore a section of Lara's extravagant manor while learning the basic controls of the game. Lara's Home in Tomb Raider 1 is the most stripped-back version — the mode would grow and expand in the subsequent sequels.

In Tomb Raider 2 and 3, you will be able to explore more of Croft Manor and uncover a variety of fun little secrets. However, most importantly, you'll be able to partake in everyone's favorite pastime of locking the butler in the freezer.

Lara's Home in Tomb Raider 1 works as nothing more than a fancy tutorial that teaches you how to jump, dodge, climb, and swim. Once you have learned all of these things the title boots you back to the home screen. While I normally adore exploring Croft Manor, the first game in the series has nothing to really show and isn't very interesting for those who already know the controls like the back of their hands. There is just nothing to see here.

Tomb RaiderTomb Raider 1 is perfect remaster

SeanL

New Game Plus turns Tomb Raider into a brutal challenge

New Game Plus in Tomb Raider 1 is perfect for those seeking a real challenge. Originally, on the PS1, this game mode allowed you to start with every weapon unlocked and came loaded with unlimited ammo. This made the game a bit of a breeze to work through. However, in the I-III Remastered version, this is far from the case. You'll start the game with all the weapons unlocked, but they will only contain one clip of ammo as opposed to being unlimited. So, you'll need to scavenge every level to maintain your ammo, and trust me, you are going to need it.

Enemies have more life and deal way more damage in this game mode. Not only are the enemies deadlier than before but so are the traps, with the arrow traps in particular dealing insane amounts of damage if you find yourself trapped within them. The ability to save whenever you want is also removed and you'll need to find save crystals (that are scattered throughout every level) to actually save your game.

The final nail in the coffin? There are no medipacks to heal, so you can only heal through save crystals and when you finish the game. So, good luck. It's a nightmare to finish.

That said, personally, I adored this game mode. While it was incredibly frustrating — especially in later levels — the wave of accomplishment that washed over me after reaching the end is a feeling I haven't felt from a game in quite a while. This truly is one of the hardest tasks I have had to do in quite some time in a video game and it was so rewarding to actually accomplish this feat and earn a nice little bronze trophy at the end of it all. If you have the patience for it, I highly recommend giving this game mode a punt.

Tomb Raider 1 Remastered Trophy Tactics

When it comes to the trophies of Tomb Raider 1, there are a lot of missables to keep your eyes on. However, the trophy list is really fun to work through as it contains lots of engaging tasks to try and complete (like not killing the T-Rex in Peru or finding all 36 different ways to perish). The trophy list is massive, featuring 67 trophies to snatch up — and that's not even counting the DLC trophies for Tomb Raider 1: Unfinished Business.

As we've talked about in other articles, the PS5 version of Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered features no platinum trophies to earn. However, those who pick up the PS4 version will indeed have platinums to earn. So, that's something we recommend taking into consideration when choosing which version to play.

Now, to finish on a pretty low note, unfortunately Tomb Raider 1 does contain unobtainable trophies. This means you can not earn 100% completion on PS5 or earn the platinum on PS4. There is one unobtainable in Tomb Raider 1 ('Tomb Cleaner') and one unobtainable in its DLC Unfinished Business ('Gifts of Wonderland'). Both trophies are connected to collecting all the collectibles in a single playthrough.

Summary

Tomb Raider 1 is a fantastic remaster and the perfect way to showcase how incredible of a job Aspyr has done in bringing these classic titles to a modern age. The nostalgia and feelings of pure joy that Tomb Raider 1 was able to pull from me is something that I haven't felt from a game in quite some time. Tomb Raider 1 is perfect, this remaster is everything I could have hoped for, and I can't give the game any less than a perfect score to reflect this.

Sure, there are a few kinks that could be ironed out here and there, but the overall package is far too competent and well-crafted for these tiny flaws to bring the score down. I recommend jumping into Tomb Raider 1 as soon as you can. It's worth every second of your time.
10 / 10
* Sean was provided a PS5 code for Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered courtesy of Sandbox Strategies. Sean played nearly 35 hours and earned 50 of Tomb Raider 1's trophies. He still plans to earn every trophy there is and will dedicate this year to achieving that goal.
Written by Sean Lawson
Sean is a Staff Writer who focuses on the geekiest Sony news. He specializes in PlayStation trophies, the best PS Plus games, RPGs, and fighting games. Sean is using this experience to cover Tekken 8, Dragon Age Dreadwolf, Baldur's Gate 3, and Dragon's Dogma 2 for PS5, all while he still dives into favorite games like Mass Effect, Tomb Raider, and Persona.
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