Reviews// Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

Posted 31 Jan 2014 12:25 by
If you read my review of 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot then you would already know that I really liked it. In fact it turned out to be one of my favourite games of the year.

It featured some of the best combat I’ve experienced in any third-person adventure game as well as being superbly paced in a way that kept you interested until the very end.

It was also one of the best-looking games to grace the 360, constantly baffling me as to how it was running on seven-year-old hardware. So of all the games that I thought could do with getting the ‘next-gen’ treatment, this would have been at the bottom of the list.

However, sometimes I have to accept the fact that I don’t get to make decisions like this and that no matter how much I stamp my feet in my living room, my wife hasn’t got the power to develop The Left 4 Dead Collection: Definitive Edition.

So here we are with a game barely a year old getting a re-release on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. What has been added to Tomb Raider to justify it’s “definitive” status? Well...

Visuals

As good as Tomb Raider looked on the 360 and PS3 it was noticeably inferior to the PC version. Now with the work that’s gone into Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition console gamers can hold their head up high. It looks absolutely jaw-dropping.

At first it might not appear to be a huge leap from the 360 offering, but the more you play the more you’ll notice the little touches, and when they come together they make an already incredible-looking world look even better.

The particle effects have been vastly improved, with everything from smoke to falling leaves making the whole world look slightly more realistic. Texturing has been tidied up and lighting has been adjusted slightly to make reflection less forced and garish.

Lara herself has had a face transplant but for the life of me I can’t understand why. She looked great before and looks equally great here so I see no need to change the look of the character. But, if one of the developers thought “She could really do with a different face” then who am I to argue? I think they’re a bit of an oddball, but argue I shall not.

One thing we can all appreciate though is that the frame-rate on the Playstation 4 is solid throughout. Even during some of the more graphically intensive areas of the game filled with enemies, falling scenery and fire, it skips along as though nothing is happening and although it might not be locked at 60fps, you’ll not notice where frames are dropped.

The only thing that disappoints me slightly is that the game is clearly designed to run on older hardware, and although I’d consider it one of the best-looking games available on the new consoles, it lacks the real draw distances and sense of scale of the likes of Killzone Shadowfall. But, in order to achieve that they would have to redesign the game, something that they were never going to do.

It’s mind-boggling to think of what this engine could achieve once the shackles of the older consoles are removed.

Gimmicks

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition has decided that it wants to take advantage of the new hardware capabilities that the Xbox One and Playstation 4 have to offer, which it does with mixed results.

Voice controls have been added and lasted about 10 minutes into my playthrough before I switched them off. They would have been a decent addition had they worked. When streaming some gameplay I kept accidentally pausing the game and when I actually wanted to use the voice controls they rarely worked. This is something I’d expect to be far better with Kinect and could be worth using.
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