'Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition' review - Better the second time

Saturday, 25 January 2014 05:05 PM Written by 

TombRaiderDEBoxLast year, “Tomb Raider” provided one of the best single-player experiences all year. Now Lara Croft’s premier adventure is returning on the new PS4 and Xbox One in “Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.”

 

The package includes multiplayer DLC, some new outfits for Lara, one extra tomb, and an improved look that takes advantage of the new hardware’s power. All of that bumps the price back up to the standard $60. Is that price worth a game that was released almost a year ago? That depends if you played it the first time around, or if you’re a newcomer.

 

 

Most of 2013’s awarded games were released long after “Tomb Raider” was played and forgotten. The “BioShocks” and “Last of Uses” of the gaming world set an eclipse over Crystal Dynamics’ masterpiece. By the end of the year, I remembered that this game was a great experience, but I didn’t remember why. “Definitive Edition” is a welcome reminder that this game can stand with the classics that inspired it, like the “Batman: Arkham” and “Uncharted” series.

 

The graphical update is fantastic. Running at a consistent 60 frames-per-second on the PS4, “Tomb Raider’s” lush, sprawling environments, and character models are some of the best on the current-gen consoles. The new tech can handle extra textures, like detailed mud and sweat on each character in stunning detail. The console version now rivals the PC version.

 

Lara’s journey urges the player to explore and rewards you for it, all while keeping you focused on the main story. This is something that many games aspire to achieve, but is rarely executed with ease. Weapons can be upgraded, and Lara gains new skills as the game progresses.

 

“Tomb Raider” handles pace particularly well. Many games telegraph their climaxes, but this one is like a collection of ending sequences.

 

 

 

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This re-release add some clever tricks with the PS4’s DualShock 4 controller, and is the first game I’ve played that brings some new ideas to the often-maligned lightbar. The lightbar flashes white when Lara fires a gun to mimic a muzzle flash, which is particularly noticeable if you play in a dark room. The controller’s light also flickers red and orange when Lara has her torch lit.

 

The PS4 version uses the DS4’s speaker to play ambient noises throughout the game. The controller will pump through Lara’s footsteps whether she’s in a damp cave, or crunching over a corpse’s bones. I always saw the controller speakers as a gimmick, but it aids in the game’s immersion.

 

Voice commands have been added for both the Xbox One and PS4 versions, but the PS4 needs to have the PlayStation Camera connected. The map can be accessed by saying “map,” and weapons can be swapped by saying “bow” or ”shotgun.” They work well, but I still opted for the typical controller use.

 

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The “Tomb Raider” package still drags along its lackluster multiplayer offering. Even last year I considered the game’s multiplayer arenas to be a waste of time for both the players and the developers. A year hasn’t changed much of anything. Arenas and gameplay have been untouched. If you didn’t like it the first time around, this aspect can be completely ignored.

 

“Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition” would be an absolute must-buy if it were priced between $40 or $50. Even an inclusion of some single player DLC would increase the value. Currently, a 360 version of “Tomb Raider” costs $23.99 on Amazon.com, and the PS3 version is less than a dollar more than that. You’re essentially paying almost $40 for updated graphics, and maps for a multiplayer mode that I was never a fan of to begin with. “Tomb Raider’s” single player holds up extremely well, and was arguably better the second time around. If you never played the original, I’d suggest picking up the “Definitive Edition,” but it’s a steep asking price if you’re revisiting the game.

 

9 out of 10



Pros:

Stunning updated visuals
Still one of the best games of 2013
Good use of the DualShock 4

 

Cons:

Lame multiplayer
$60 asking price is steep

 

 Platform:    PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One 
 Price:  $59.99
 Release Date:   1/28/2014 
 Rating:  M for Mature 



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