Tomb Raider I-III Remastered PS4 & PS5 features detailed, new key art revealed

January 17, 2024
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It’s been almost 30 years since Lara Croft took her first snowy steps in the mountains of Peru. In about 30 days, PlayStation players will get to re-experience Lara’s first three globe-trotting adventures, with a fresh look and feel in Tomb Raider I-III Remastered on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. 

How did we get here? That story takes us to Austin, TX in 1998.

Aspyr & Lara go way back

A burgeoning video game company, Aspyr, launches Tomb Raider II on Macintosh computers. Aspyr continued with the Tomb Raider franchise until 2003, launching Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider III, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, Tomb Raider: Chronicles, and Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.

We’ve always wanted to revisit these titles, but we always debated the right approach. For years, we worked through the right balance of preservation and modernization. And once we felt we nailed it, we got in touch with our friends at Crystal Dynamics.

Crystal Dynamics vision

As Crystal Dynamics continues to expand the Tomb Raider Franchise, the timing seemed perfect to reintroduce audiences to the games that started it all. We wanted to both honor the foundations of the franchise and make accessible to modern audiences the original games in all their glory. 

What would the balance of preservation and modernization look like? We call it Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft.

Remaster defined

Within pre-production, we divided the conversation into three buckets: engineering, gameplay, and art. With these categories in mind, we led our conversations in the same order.

Engineering goal – performance with pixel-perfect preservation

At the outset, we knew we would use the original source code and engine. Magic can’t simply be rebuilt. A critical feature for any updates we made was to allow the users to toggle back to the original look and feel for Tomb Raider I, II, and III.

It’s a love letter to all of our memories of these games, but it’s also truly fascinating to see how far hardware pushed in the ‘90s to make Tomb Raider work. Preserving that experience will continue to inspire engineers of today and tomorrow to push games to be more immersive and memorable.

Gameplay goal – surprise and delight lifelong hardcore fans

We had a firm belief that the gameplay of Tomb Raider I, II, and III is timeless, and with our use of the existing source code, we had every jump, secret, enemy, and puzzle exactly as the original development team designed and intended.

So the conversation evolved into: how do we surprise and delight these fans? And that’s where we started brainstorming additions instead of revisions.

Classic and modern control options

For our modern controller settings, we take inspiration from the Legend, Anniversary, and Underworld era of Tomb Raider. These changes are felt mostly in the way Lara moves – the right stick has full camera control and Lara moves directionally based on camera position. 

Just like our approach to the graphical presentation, the original tank-style controls are still available to players via a menu toggle.

Boss health bars

One of Tomb Raider’s strengths was the minimal UI. However, this can be frustrating for tougher bosses with massive amounts of health. We added a health bar to let you know if you should swap to the grenade launcher or if you should keep soaking pistol damage.

3D item sprites replacements

While the menus in Tomb Raider used 3D models for the health kit and ammo, the in-game assets were flat 2D sprites. This was a legacy compromise that we’ve adjusted to give a little more umph to item pick-ups.

Over 200 trophies

This is a big moment for the Tomb Raider community, so we made sure to pack in as much content as possible. We’re excited to say there are over 200 trophies to earn including (my personal favorite) locking the Butler in the freezer. Sorry, Winston! See below for a sneak peak of a few you can look forward to discovering!

Photo mode

Exploring environments in Tomb Raider is magical. We want you to be able to share these environments and iconic moments, so we’ve added a robust photo mode to pose Lara, freeze gameplay, toggle between classic and modern graphics, and showcase these environments. We’re super excited to see what the community puts together with these modes.

And a few more surprises

So much of what we love about Tomb Raider is discovery, and we don’t want to spoil that. 

Art goal – visuals as in your memory

Once we finalized the engineering and gameplay intent, it was time to move on to our biggest challenge and changes for the project—the art. 

Our philosophy here was rather straightforward; we want the games to look the way they did in your mind. We knew we were on the right track in our early playtests because some play testers didn’t even know they were playing with the modern art toggled on.

We’ve worked hand-in-hand with Crystal Dynamics on the following modern art updates:

  • Baked and real-time lighting effects – These changes add to the immersion and mood of the environment. 

  • Graphics toggle – At any point during gameplay, including in Photo mode, you can swap between the original and modern graphics.

  • New models, environments, and enemies – As shown in our initial reveal, we’ve added new models for a consistent modern look and feel. We’re excited to showcase how these PS1 environments would look with modern technologies and tools.

  • New model for Lara Croft – Her original outfits are stunning. Her silhouette—iconic. Need I say more?
  • Additional updates – We love the classic look of the animations, textures, and VFX. We’ve made adjustments in the modern scheme to look consistent with the updated models for a polished final look.

We send our admiration and thanks to the Tomb Raider community for inspiring us to work on this lovingly restored edition of Tomb Raider I-III. We’ll see you on February 14.

Pre-orders are available now on PlayStation Store.

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