Review: Tomb Raider Definitive Edition
Last year’s reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise rocked us to the core. A phenomenal bit of storytelling, coupled with gameplay that was both refreshing and familiar for the series. In case you missed it back then, have a read of Mr. Newton’s Tomb Raider review to see what made the game so special on the last generation consoles.
Unfortunately the original version didn’t exceed financial expectations in the retail department, selling 4 million copies overall (arguments over game budgets are for another day). It is for this reason that we were delighted to hear the Square Enix we’re giving it another shot whilst offering next gen owners a chance to experience one of the best games of 2013.
So what’s on offer in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition? Well this is effectively the original experience, bundled with all of the additional DLC. For the most part this is all the extra maps and character skins for the frankly vanilla multiplayer mode. However you’ll also get an additional tomb to explore which adds an extra half hour and a bit of challenge. Don’t let the extra content (or lack of) put you off though as there is only one real reason that you should fork out for Tomb Raider and that’s for the jaw dropping single player campaign.
Every visual aspect has had a massive visual overhaul, making an already beautiful and atmospheric game an absolute delight to behold on the new consoles. Particular attention has been paid to the design of Lara’s character model which has been rebuilt from scratch. Using the previously PC-only technology TressFX from AMD has given Lara some extremely realistic (not to mention shiny!) next-gen hair. It may sound daft, but it’s the small details like this that make the graphical improvements sing. Maybe she’s born with it? Maybe it’s TressFX…
It’s clear that the bulk of attention has been paid to Lara (after all that’s what you’re going to spend 20+ hours looking at) but other work done to the game including up-scaled geometry and textures. Special materials have been added that dynamically change when she wades through mud, gets bloody, or when it rains or she gets wet. All of this TressFX magic has been custom written for its first outing on consoles so far. Like so much of what we’ve seen on the next gen consoles so far it feels very much like a mere taste of future possibilities.
Another nice detail is the attention to detail that’s been paid to the equipment that Lara carries on her throughout her adventure. The climbing axe, radio, her bow and a quiver of arrows, etc. All of these now have subtle but simulated physics on them so as she runs, jumps, falls, stumbles, they shake, swing and rattle accordingly, making it feel like they’re actual pieces of kit and not just part of her character model.
Kinect has a part to play here too with the now token ability to use your voice to navigate menus and carry out certain actions. This is as well implemented as it is in Ryse with a quick phrase like “Show map” pausing the game and bringing up your map screen. Pretty nifty and as with all commands on the new Kinect, very responsive. The only real quibble with the voice commands is its ability to un-pause the game, mistaking a conversation with your wife about choice of wine for a command to get back into the tomb raiding action.
To sum up
Few titles are lucky enough to get ported to future generations but this is a great opportunity for folks who missed out on this gem the first time around. It adds insanely realistic and often stunning visuals to an already splendid game. As the name suggests, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is the best version of Tomb Raider that you’ll ever play, so it’s a must have for new fans. However if you’re wondering if it’s worth buying again, it probably isn’t. Bring on Tomb Raider 2!
Version reviewed: Xbox One
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is available now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.