written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Perhaps it was the chance to see a slicker version of this great game, or the lack of any software on the PS4 to date, but I decided to delve back into Lara’s rebooted origin to give the game another shot, for all intents and purposes this review is based solely on the PS4 version rather than playing both the PS4 and Xbox One versions. Most of the review will be very similar to my previous review from my first time playing the game so refer to the original review for any details.
As much as I loved playing through Tomb Raider last gen, I was hoping for a little bit more than just a new coat of paint. Once again, refer to the original review for my impressions of the narrative. But the story is literally unchanged, while I would have been disappointed if they had made changes to the already fantastic story, but perhaps a few “directors cut” like scenes or additional content would have been appreciated. I’m not asking for a whole new mission but maybe a few moments where you could step into the shoes of one of the other crew members of the Endurance or some additional scenes that could flesh out the story more. Much like the UN-definitive edition, the game is short but still satisfying. Not much else I can delve into to be honest, just read the previous review since most of what I would say would be the same.
Here is where the game get’s the most change, even comparing it to the PC Version, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is a massive leap from the game that came out just a year ago. Lara is beautifully rendered and was rebuilt from the ground up. From the grime that collects all over her body to the physics of her hair, for all intents and purposes this is literally a rebuilt game. Comparing it to other last-to-next-gen releases, the graphics here seriously get a massive overhaul.
Not just limited to our main character, tertiary characters and even enemies all seem to be rebuilt. This looks like a next gen game and unlike games like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Battlefield 4, I don’t get the sense of “last gen with hi-res textures” I did from those games. This early in a new console’s life never really shows what a console is capable of, compare PS3 launch games with a game like The Last of Us or the UN-definitive Tomb Raider and it is clearly evident the difference in quality. This looks and feels like a true next gen title and it gives me goosebumps to think what the PS4 is truly capable of, playing such launch games like Genji: Days of the Blade (a graphically impressive game) during the infancy of the PS3 would have never given me the expectation of what a game like The Last of Us could be. If this same thought process can be applied to this generation, we have some impressive works coming!
One aspect of the Definitive Edition that really caught my eye was the ambiance, elements like shadows and light (while still looking good) never seemed organic while playing Tomb Raider on PS3, even looking at the foliage and the lighting effects, everything felt like it was at that much higher of a level. Textures looked fantastic and even during some of the more intense sequences, running at 60fps and native 1080p really made everything look and feel that much more realistic, it may not be that obvious at first but I decided to play through a few sequences on the PS3 version and it really does make a difference.
On a purely cosmetic level, several outfits are added to Lara’s inventory. From a mud covered version of her default outfit to a sleeveless archery competition look complete with forearm guards. This doesn't add too much to the gameplay but it does break up the monotony a bit, changing outfits between campsites feels like Lara really is preparing for what’s ahead of her.
Overall this new coat of paint really invigorates an already fantastic game, it feels like this definitive version was made for the PS4 and it fits in the console’s library wonderfully.
Most of the gameplay is largely unchanged, for the PS4 version the touchpad ends up being used to examine relics Lara finds; creating a more tactile experience as opposed to using the left and right analog sticks. Playing through moments like Lara sliding down a cliff side can be controlled with the left analog stick or by tilting the controller left and right. Overall this version allows to player to feel more connected to Lara when controlling her.
Precision feels tighter with the increased frame rate and headshots are a lot easier to accomplish. Overall, not much new can be said.
While there isn’t much new to convince those who have already played Tomb Raider last year to delve back into it again (and drop another $60) but for those curious about how wonderful this game can look on a console as powerful as the PS4 (and don’t have a PC) this edition may be worth the purchase, if you loved Tomb Raider I urge you to at least rent/gamefly/redbox this game, but if that curiosity never really crosses your mind then it may be better to just pass it up… that is until it drops in price. For those who have never played Tomb Raider, it’s a no-brainer. If you’ve waited or are somehow late to the party with the Tomb Raider package, this Definitive Edition is an absolute must play.
+ Slick graphics and sound
+ Snappy controls
+ Fits right in with Next-Gen
- Nothing new for those who already played it
- Game still feels very short