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Tomb Raider Trilogy

Crystal clarity.

Aside from that, the developer invented the magnetic grapple, for which we should all be thankful, and even tried to do something interesting with the series' horrible gunplay through the addition of fancy slow-motion moves and environmental assists.

Overall, it's bizarre to see Tomb Raider redesigned with things like speed-running in mind – there are unlocks and now Trophies available for landing good times through each level – and although the approach wasn't to everyone's tastes, it definitely shook the series out of its creaky middle age. It's lovely Sunday afternoon stuff, too.

If it wasn't what you were after, Crystal Dynamics tried something a little more traditional with the follow-up, returning to the very first Tomb Raider game – and, more importantly, returning to that lonely, lengthy exploration that the series was known for.

With no new friends chatting away in an earpiece, and miles of pendulum blades, misty caverns and block-shifting separating Croft from the beginning and end of each level, Anniversary's a chance to see the series' new custodians acting almost like a cover band – albeit one that's intent on putting its own spin on the classics.

It was up to Underworld to blend both opposing approaches to Tomb Raider – and to conclude the Trilogy's likeably melodramatic plotline. Aside from a slightly rushed ending and an occasionally iffy camera, the game does a pretty good job of it, offering standout set-pieces like a topsy-turvy race out of a sinking sea tanker, and plenty of moments where you're deep underground, lost to the rest of humanity, pulling switches and then listening for that familiar distant rumbling of ancient clockwork.

A handy new gadget allows Croft to move huge pieces of scenery around while the orchestral score swoops and sighs with an insistent reverence, and there are sticky bombs to tack onto sharks and an upgraded grapple to play with, alongside gymnastic animation that flows effortlessly from one wall-spring into the next.

The two DLC episodes that landed on the 360 are missing from the Trilogy compilation – a shame, as there's a puzzle in the first one that's so good it should have its own chat show - but it's still a brisk chunk of adventuring without them, even if somebody in the design team thought it was a good idea to blow up Croft Manor.

Outside of the main games, the Trilogy offers outfits for Home, a – non-dynamic – theme, and developer diaries for all three titles and two trailers for the Guardian of Light. There's also Trophy support and – a welcome addition after The Sly Trilogy – the option to quit back to the launcher from each adventure rather than exiting directly to the PS3 menu.

It's a nice collection of knick-knacks, but the games remain the real attraction. With the frantic, all-action fire-fights of Guardian of Light still burning brightly on download services, and Croft's grimier, nastier new adventure taking shape over in San Francisco, it's the perfect moment to say goodbye – for the time being, at least – to this epic, Technicolor, Saturday matinee approach to the character, and the perfect time to gauge how well the team at Crystal Dynamics fared with their first take on Tomb Raider.

And, for my money, they fared brilliantly.

9 / 10

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Christian Donlan avatar

Christian Donlan

Features Editor

Christian Donlan is a features editor for Eurogamer. He is the author of The Unmapped Mind, published as The Inward Empire in the US.


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