Thursday, February 20, 2014
Review: 'Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition' lives up to its name
Released in early 2013, the gritty reboot of "Tomb Raider" became adored by many. Square Enix decided the new Lara Croft deserved the next-gen treatment, and it is now out on the PS4 and Xbox One.
Titled "Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition," this game should be held to high standards. Playing on the PS4 version, it definitely meets them. It has no problem hitting the 60 frames-per-second benchmark, although there are dips in the more action-packed sequences (the Xbox One version was not tested). Despite that, everything moves very smoothly.
It's a very beautiful game, and the folks at Crystal Dynamics did an amazing job overhauling the lush, vibrant world to make it feel very real, thanks to TressFX technology. Foliage reacts appropriately to the wind and Lara's movements. The lighting effects dazzle the eyes, and the attention to detail like blood, mud and sweat on characters is superb.
Gameplay is basically the same as before. Inspired by Naughty Dog's "Uncharted" series, players will have Lara jumping large gaps, dangling along edges, and brutally dispatching enemies who get in her way. This mostly linear game encourages exploration in more open sections to collect salvage and find hidden artifacts to gain skill points and upgrade abilities and weapons.
Unfortunately, there aren't many tombs to raid, which were a highlight of the classic games. The puzzles aren't difficult either. I kind of wished they focused more on this aspect of Tomb Raider than the multiplayer mode that feels tacked on without any thought.
The story holds its own to the very end, even if the narrative in the beginning doesn't mesh well with Lara's actions. She's scared like no other after being captured, and is very distraught after killing a person for the first time. But afterward, you're brutally killing enemies left and right with ease, so those early traumas become lost in no time.
The "Definitive Edition" also comes with the game's DLC including an optional tomb to raid, alternate costumes, and some multiplayer elements if you're one of the few who enjoys this mode of play.
Other additions are minor, like voice controls if you feel like shouting at the TV instead of using buttons. Recovered artifacts can be rotated onscreen using the PS4 controller's touchpad, and the light bar flickers different colors like red and orange if Lara's holding a torch. It's a neat effect that caught me by surprise.
Here's the big question about "Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition": Is it worth the full retail price of $59.99? Yes and no. It's not worth it to those who've already played the game on last-gen consoles and PC in 2013 since it's essentially a more beautiful version of this game.
However, it's still an excellent reboot, and those who missed out the first time -- and are dying to play something on the brand-new consoles -- should treat themselves to one of the top games of 2013.
3 1/2 stars out of 4
A downloadable code for the PS4 version of "Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition" was supplied by the publisher for this review. Post originally written by Jeff Hoard for Digital First Media, reprinted with permission.