Tomb Raider, released in March last year, was a very good game. I played it on PC, with everything turned up high but without the fancy TressFX hair technology that made all but the best AMD GPUs weep. It was a beautiful, extremely enjoyable adventure.
Sure, Lara sounded a bit weird at times and she got a little too comfortable with mass murder in that videogame way that we all kind of just have to accept if we like shooting things with bow and arrow. But I thought it did a great job of making her motivations understandable. I could identify with her struggles, even if there were times when the dialogue was delivered as though auditioning for a bit part on Casualty.
The Definitive Edition of Tomb Raider comes to PS4 and Xbox One this week. It’s the same game with a sprinkling of higher resolution textures, better models and lighting effects, and with the fancy hair from the PC version. It looks absolutely fantastic. Better than my original play through on PC and at least as good as anything we’ve seen so far on the new consoles. But it’s still the same game.
If you didn’t play this when it was released last year, and you have access to a PS4 or Xbox One, this is the way to play it. If you played through on PS3, Xbox 360 or even a mid-high end PC, there’s not really anything of substance here to encourage another play through. Of course, some of us loved the game enough, and are shallow enough to value the extra visual fidelity so highly that you want another run through anyway.
This release contains all of the DLC released for 2013’s reboot too. There’s a new tomb to raid in the single player story and some new maps for the enjoyable multiplayer side of things too. The new tomb is found quite early on and it’s good enough but, like all the other optional puzzle-based tombs in the game, it’s a tad lightweight and easily solved. You won’t get more than about 15 minutes out of it.
Likewise, the multiplayer maps are decent and the multiplayer – which was always quite enjoyable on consoles – is likely to enjoy another month or two of activity with the new edition of the game. But it’s not anything too special and it won’t make any significant dents in Ghosts, Battlefield 4 or Killzone’s multiplayer fan bases either.
There is voice control in the PS4 and Xbox One version, with Microsoft’s console also getting some artifact-stroking gesture control and the ability to change camera angles by leaning. We only had access to the PS4 version so I can’t attest to the obvious virtues of leaning sideways on your sofa instead of lightly pushing your right stick to move the camera around. What I can tell you is that the voice control is sensitive.
It works well, most of the time, allowing you to swap weapons or ammo types as well as call for the map and pause. Unfortunately, it sometimes mistakes an enemy shouting about your gun for you shouting for your gun and if you’re setting up for a legendary flaming bow headshot at the time your enemy vocally thrusts the handgun into your digital mitts, it’s a tad frustrating. I also encountered random pause (and resume, more worryingly) occurrences when I was talking to someone else in the room.
So it’s a game I very much enjoyed playing last year that has been bundled up with some lightweight DLC and re-released. I’m enjoying playing through it again on PS4 and I’d guess that many of you would too, although you might want to wait for a price drop.
The textures are extremely good, although it was a good looking game last year too, and Lara’s face modelling is the best I’ve seen on a console anywhere. 60 frames per second might have been downplayed by Square Enix recently, but it genuinely makes a difference to the fast paced section in particular. It’s all so smooth and fluid and cinematically presented.
Make no mistake, this is an extremely beautiful game and packed with those sort of breathtaking moments where you’ll stop worrying about progress for a few precious moments and just stare at the surrounding vistas. But it’s still a bit cliched in its story, doesn’t make nearly enough of the potential in the initial hunger or open wound systems and it still has Camilla Luddington doing the voice – which wasn’t a problem for me but many forum posters did not like her performance.
If that sounds good to you, then Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is the game for you. I can certainly think of worse ways to pass the time while I wait for the next wave of big console releases to arrive.