Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition Review Review
Review By Steve Farrelly @ 03:24pm 30/01/14
Not a lot more can be said in this review than what Jickle covered for us in his write-up of the 2013-released game, at least from a character and story perspective. Rather, this review will give you a bit of an edge in knowledge as far as whether or not the “Definitive Edition” of Lara Croft’s much-applauded reboot is worth picking up on the next-gen machines considering how long the game has been out and the fact that there is a far superior (to last-gen) PC version also floating around in the retail ether.
It’s probably best then to explain what’s actually “definitive” about this release, which sees the main game proper (unchanged main campaign content), complete next-gen visual overhaul (more on this in a minute), all the released DLC and extras, including multiplayer, and releasing in a lull period on both new machines, which may have been a “definitive” marketing decision in the long-run, but it looks like the effort might pay off.
The game on both PS4 and Xbox One is gorgeous, though it appears the PS4 comes out ahead in a few areas, such as all cut-scenes being rendered at 1080p, while some on Xbox One are capped at 900p. Different devs worked on the new machines, and it’s early days for both, but if you’re looking for bragging rights on one versus the other, Sony definitively does come out on top -- if only just (both games run natively at 1080p during gameplay).
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition isn’t just a PC port though, as many new graphical and technical features were added here. New foliage with reactive physics and weight make up a much more detailed Yamatai island. Enhanced fire and particle physics add a deeper sense of realism and dynamism in the game-world, while a much-touted remodeling of Lara herself, and specifically her hair, goes a long way to offering up a definitive vision Crystal Dynamics was likely hoping for. In short, better lighting, textures, new assets and a lot of remodeling has made this next-gen update a gorgeous piece of eye-candy and stands as proof some of the last released last-gen games could very easily make the leap to the new platforms, provided demand were high enough.
What’s frustrating here though, is the missed opportunities where some of the game’s lacking animations are concerned, and in its less-than-stellar combat. On the animations front, Lara still feels too slight -- she floats through the air unrealistically all too often, and as a result there’s a lacking sense of weight to your interactions with her. Animations trees could have definitely done with bolstering, but the core of the original game is all we get. This bleeds into the point about combat as well -- while my personal issues with Lara’s ability to kill easily after her first jarring death moment will remain aside for this review, it’s in the enemy’s complete lack of response to being shot that the game’s immersion is completely torn away. Shoot someone in the leg, groin or chest and they’ll just recoil slightly but remain steadfast in their pursuit of you. Headshots are an instant kill, but these also make strategy pretty binary: shoot the head for instadeath, avoid the body because it doesn’t really stop anyone.
Reactive hipoints on enemies would have been a much more “definitive” way to go here, but like the core story and animations, it’s delivered in the same broken (or unrealistic) fashion as the 2013 release. Combat is the least fun in the game, but it’s passable regardless. What’s best to take away from this is you get the full game and all content released, updated visuals that actually make the game look next-gen, and that same rewarding sense of adventure and exploration coupled with Lara’s personal, traumatic ascension to true Tomb Raider. Bring on the inevitable sequel, I say.