Our Matt Reynolds reviewed Tomb Raider last year, giving it a whopping 9.4 It was this sites most divisive review. He’s back, and this time, it’s DEFINITIVE…
When Tomb Raider burst on to the scene in early 2013 it tore up the rulebook on Lara Croft, and reimagined her as a frightened but determined young woman facing insurmountable odds and slowly becoming the icon she is known as. The game was phenomenal; a thrill-a-minute roller coaster ride melding the cataclysmic bombast of Nathan Drake’s adventures with the supernatural melodrama of vintage Indiana Jones. The majority of the exploration and platforming that used to form the series’ cornerstones may have vanished, but in their place was a slick, responsive action shooter that did everything it set out to do with flair and panache.
It’s difficult to reconcile this new Raider with the classic Playstation games of old; and as a result series veterans were not altogether happy with it. That’s perfectly fine and understandable – but Crystal Dynamics’ aim was to fully reboot the character via an origin story and in this they succeeded massively; gaining Lara a whole new set of fans (including this reviewer, who until now had no love for the series).
2014 sees us with a brand new generation of games machines – and the added power of the Xbox One and Playstation 4 provide the needed grunt to give Tomb Raider the scope and vision it always deserved. Not to say that the last gen versions were a slouch in the visuals department – they remain among the very best graphical examples on 360 and PS3. However, in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition you get to see how the game should REALLY look.
Of course; PC owners got the better version at launch last year. The Tress FX engine that exclusively deals with Lara’s flowing locks was included, but has been rebuilt for the next-gen consoles. Hair is notoriously difficult to render and there have already been some rubbish next-gen examples (notably Black Flag and Dead Rising 3), but here we get a glimpse at what is possible now. Lara’s hair blows in the wind; her ponytail swings and bobs realistically and her locks cascade over her shoulders; sometimes catching on her face and getting waterlogged in the island of Yamatai’s apocalyptic thunderstorms. Her gear too has its own physics – her bow, climbing axe etc all move independently with even the individual arrows in her quiver bouncing around. It may seem trivial but all these small parts add up to a far more believable protagonist.
The island itself looks even more beautiful than ever. Its shipwrecked beaches, lush forests and ancient temples really benefit from the higher resolution, and the improved lighting is beautiful. If this review seems solely based on graphical prowess; that’s because improved visuals are really all the Definitive Edition has to offer over its predecessor. A paltry extra tomb and some maps and skins aside, it’s the same game it always was. Luckily that game is incredible and we’d thoroughly recommend jumping back in to experience it again. Its only flaws remain the same too – a weak multiplayer, unwelcome supernatural plot elements and in Camilla Luddington a weak piece of voice acting. Even so; this is the definitive edition of one of the last generation’s definitive action adventures.
– Matt Reynolds @thelostmoment