Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition – It’s A Beautiful Island

By Jenni . February 8, 2014 . 5:00pm

As much as I love the Tomb Raider series, I have a confession. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is my first experience with the Tomb Raider reboot. It was a simple case of oversaturation. 2013 was an incredible year for gaming. I lamented the loss at the time, but now I’m glad I’ve finally goten around to it, because this time, my hesitation meant I would get to play through the best version of the game.

 

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition follows 21-year-old Lara Croft on one of her first, major adventures. She’s on an archeological expedition with Dr. James Whitman, her best friend Sam, and a number of other skilled individuals on a search to discover the background of the mythical Himiko, Sun Queen of Yamatai. The group decides to explore a dangerous region called the Dragon’s Triangle, and storms end up sinking the ship. Lara and her crew wash up on the exact island they’re searching for, but they aren’t alone. Other people have been trapped on Yamatai as well, and they aren’t very friendly.

 

Players then dive into traditional Tomb Raider gameplay. Lara explores the island, using bows and guns to dispatch enemies and navigate its forests and cliffs in order to survive. There are secrets to be found, people to save, and the opportunity to do more than just find a way to get home. Lara has an opportunity to prove herself. We watch as she gradually figures out puzzles, improves her skills and equipment, and becomes a powerful, gaming icon. Not that the Lara we’re seeing is weak. It’s more that she’s inexperienced and relying on book smarts, and in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition we’re seeing her putting her knowledge and strength to practical use for the first time and really coming into her own.

 

Tomb Raider lends itself well to such survival mechanics. In fact, it’s a fitting and ironic situation. While this series clearly inspired parts of Uncharted, now it seems Uncharted has rubbed off on the Tomb Raider reboot. There’s far more exploring, surviving, and battling than in previous installments, and less time actively searching tombs to learn more about the legendary Sun Queen.

 

I actually think it was a change for a better, at least in this installment. Lara is only just starting her adventuring legacy here, after all, and finding a way to survive and escape the island is the primary focus. The lack of actual tomb-raiding can be forgiven, because the story itself isn’t focusing on it. I think it instead helps show how Lara became the capable heroine she is.

 

That said, as much as I loved the single player, I will admit some disappointment with Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition‘s multiplayer. It offers variety, sure, with eight different maps to choose from, but the actual experience wasn’t very entertaining. It was a tedious affair, and is the only PS4 multiplayer game to date where I actually experienced lag. Of course, there were times when I didn’t even get to a point where lag was an issue. Finding other players proved pretty difficult. After only two successful matches and five failed attempts to get a good group, I decided to appreciate Tomb Raider for its comprehensive and wonderful single player instead.

 

Of course, it was easy for me to really love and enjoy the single player. I was playing the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, after all. It’s the prettiest version of the game you can possibly get. It looks gorgeous, and the level of detail is absolutely extraordinary. From the leaves that sometimes catch in the wind as they fall from trees, to the beauty of watching a deer romping through the forest unaware of Lara the Huntress, it’s a joy to watch. It’s just a shame that I couldn’t always stop and appreciate the sights and sounds of Yamatai. There were times when I found myself cursing the wolves that would come when darkness fell. Let me enjoy the beauty of the night, dangnabbit!

 

Still, I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason I was able to marvel so at Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition‘s beauty is because the last Tomb Raider game I played was Tomb Raider: Underworld. Things change so fast in the gaming world, and a lot can happen in five years. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been so caught up if I had first played the Tomb Raider reboot on the PS3. I’d like to think I still would have. I’ve looked at footage from the 2013 release and the difference is marked.

 

Which brings me to another important point. For me, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is a striking adventure. However, it’s a brand new world to me. I’m only seeing Lara’s origin story for the first time. Someone who’s already been through this tale on a console or computer probably won’t come away with the same impressions. The main differences with this port are improved visuals, included DLC, voice controls, and some rather unimpressive DualShock 4 and Kinect novelties. It isn’t really enough to justify double dipping if you already own it. If you don’t, though, then it’s a clear case of good things coming to those who wait. Hearing voices from the radio through the controller is neat, sure, and the voice controls work, but neither are very necessary. I sampled both, just to see how they worked, then promptly forgot about them.

 

Speaking of the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition DLC, I honestly didn’t realize what was and wasn’t originally supplementary material until I started doing some research. Everything fits so well into the game and seems so natural, that it seems odd that locations, weapons and extras were removed in the original release. The costumes I could see, but the multiplayer characters and, more importantly, the Tomb of the Lost Adventurer, seem like things that should have been immediately available in the original game as well.

 

Square Enix’s reboot of Tomb Raider is a wonderfully striking game. It takes a heroine we’ve known forever, often sent out on supernaturally laughable and epic adventures, and makes her human. She’d always been larger than life before, and Tomb Raider made her feel more real to me. Even more so in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, because this is truly the most detailed and realistic we’ve ever seen her. Yes, there isn’t enough additional content to make it worth reexperiencing if you previously enjoyed the PS3, Xbox 360, or PC incarnation, but newcomers will find Lara a welcome friend on their PS4 or Xbox One.

 

Food for Thought:

 

1. Whoever thought having the DualShock 4 light up when using a torch or shooting was a good idea was wrong. It isn’t immersive, and only eats up your battery.

 

2. While Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition‘s release is a good thing, I hope we don’t see too many of these rereleases, put out in the hopes of quickly building a library and capitalizing on the excitement surrounding a new system.


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  • Eric Harris

    I feel the same way. This game is not only pretty fun, but it’s the prettiest PS4 game out there right now. I am really enjoying this game on my 70″. It looks great in 1080p on a large screen.

    • rurifan

      It looks great, but I find myself wishing western developers didn’t devote so much effort to making ugly in-game content.

      I like the nature scenes best, and Lara looks nice when she’s not covered in blood&dirt. :-)

  • Shippoyasha

    Makes me wish they redesigned the PS4 controller to mind the battery life or give it way more juice to allow for the torch gameplay. I don’t want to double dip on Tomb Raider but I hope I can buy it when prices goes down for it.

    I am extremely anxious for the game to have a full blown sequel. They just need to add in some more puzzlelike levels like in the original Tomb Raider trilogy. Either way, the new reboot is a really admirable effort.

    • rurifan

      The poor battery life is extremely annoying. I’m skeptical the dumb light really has a measureable impact, but I wish there was an option to disable it. More options for users is always good.

      At least the idiotic speaker can be disabled globally in the settings though. (I actually ran across a game that didn’t have a built in option to do so. Ugh!)

      Also, very much agree about the puzzles. Now that they’ve drawn in some new fans with the “reboot”, I hope they can appease the base and lay off the gritty killing-based gameplay.

      • Shippoyasha

        Yeah, I wouldn’t mind the lights on the PS4 controller but if it detracts from the battery life, they should have made the battery life way higher to compensate. That’s why I rarely use rumble on wireless controllers because these extra features eats up battery life.

      • Ethan Anderson

        I plug the Dualshock 4 into my laptop as I play.

  • NintendoPSXTheSecond

    Is it bad I double dipped day one? I don’t think so, loved the game and will support it as long as Square-Enix let’s it live.

    • subsamuel01

      The game was amazing on the PS3, as soon as I find a PS4 I am going to re-buy this game even if people think its a rip off. This is the one franchise from Square that I wouldn’t mind paying extra to support.

    • LustEnvy

      I’m upset I didn’t touch this game sooner. When I finally played it on Steam, I was blown away. Bought it on PSN with zero remorse. Double-dipping for support, and don’t mind another playthrough.

    • 愛憎

      I think this is a really awesome trend becoming more prominent; people purchasing a game twice because they want to show their support.

      I remember a few years back when all my friends made fun of me for buying three copies of Oblivion (PC, then GOTY for 360, then Steam GOTY on discount since I had a new comp, and that’s just so convenient)! I suppose it still looks silly, but I love showing support for things I am passionate about!

      • http://gentlerobot.com/ Gentle Robot

        Yes I hope developers capitalize on it by offering the same game over and over with only minor tweaks

      • Martian Wong

        I dont think it is silly. I purchased all Evangelion bluray/dvd to show support to Hideaki Anno. I watched the anime a long time ago. But buying them for collection is good and actually support those that worked hard for your entertainment. Especially a lot of people just go and download it from the internet.

  • zac za

    to bad ps4 version crashes and has a save bug

  • rurifan

    I found the grit and gore disagreeable myself. And the survival-action gameplay is far less interesting than the classic exploration/puzzle driven games. I played it on 360 last year and was bored.

    But I bought this for PS4 because it is beautful and the high frame rate is a joy to play. (The scenes where it drops from the silky 60fps are a very noticeable bummer I hurry through.)

    The high frame rate makes such a huge difference I don’t understand how anybody can tolerate 30fps this generation. It distresses me to see some high profile games (infamous 2, driveclub) failing to deliver a modern frame rate. And then I see comments saying that’s fine … is everybody insane?!

    What good are pixel resolution and effects when motion resolution is so low that it turns to blurry trash as soon you move the camera, people! (end rant :)

    • Aoshi00

      The graphic gore was too realistic and hard to stomach at times, but Jpn censored the textures to the point the corpses look like mannequins which was quite distracting and took away the original intended horrific experience faced by Lara, I wonder if their definitive ver is still censored as well, stupid Cero Z.

      Tomb Raider was indeed a great game, but I’ve almost played thru it on 360 twice no so long ago, so don’t really want to go thru single player again and double dip at $60 (imported the Jpn ver for $80 and US ver for $20, & huge backlog of current games).. also playing ports is not the reason to get a PS4/XB1.. but for those who have yet to play it, definitely get this.

      I don’t know if the difference btwn PS3/360 and PS4/XB1 is that drastic, I kinda played thru AC4 Black Flag on both 360/XB1, lighting, foliage, weather, framerate, etc definitely better on next gen, but it’s still essentially the same game.. for Ico/SotC or FFX/X-2, HD ports of classics from a decade ago are a different matter..

      Hate the dang wolves in the forest too lol..

  • AkuLord3

    “I was playing the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, after all. It’s the prettiest version of the game you can possibly get.” Cough Cough PC version Cough

    Ok Ok don’t wanna start anything or saying its a better version since…its the same game but yeah if you didn’t get before and want some with Xbone or Ps4 then grab it. If you had it already no point since its just the same game…kinda sorta bushed up…in graphics

    • rurifan

      PS4 version is actually enhanced beyond the PC version.
      Not to mention that few PCs could do 1080p@60fps with TressFX.

    • LustEnvy

      I have the PC version basically maxed out at 1080p/60fps (most of the time, without Tress FX), and it still doesn’t look as good as the definitive version. The DE IS the best version, unless you’re running over 1080p, and even then you lose the added effects in game and Lara’s new face. The PS4 port was done REMARKABLY well.

  • saxophone15

    I have to disagree with food for thought number 1. I actually enjoyed the controller flashing when shooting and using the torch.

  • rurifan

    Regarding rereleases, I’d love to see every quality game from this past generation rereleased on modern consoles running 1080p@60fps.

    So many games from the “lost generation” were crippled by the lame hardware they had to deal with. The Last Of Us limping along at 25fps, seriously?

  • xXDGFXx

    My main issue with the game would be the face. Not the design, the expressions. Her emotions don’t seem to fully come out whenever her face moves. They feel incomplete.

  • EvaUnitO2

    Just a small point of contention: the light doesn’t eat up your battery in any significant way.

  • LustEnvy

    I bought this for hella cheap on Steam, and my laptop was capable of maxing out almost everything. Even then, the Definitive version STILL looks better. Other than that, I feel like double dipping would let S-E know that this game WAS worthwhile, and not the disappointment they thought it was sales-wise. The reboot is one of the greatest games I have ever played. Definitive version or not.

    • Mike G. Moran

      You shouldn’t double dip. You did your part buying the game at all. It shouldn’t be your job to communicate to Square this game was worthwhile. It should be Square’s job to improve their company. It’s ridiculous when you can sell 4 million copies of something and only just barely break even. They are clearly doing something wrong and they need to figure that out.

      A lazy move like re-releasing the game until it stops selling is a Capcom move, and Capcom is nearly bankrupt and only just now realizing how deep in the hole they sunk themselves into. Square will likewise end up in the ditch like that unless they realize just how poorly they’re doing, and that requires the community be firm and have standards that can’t be taken advantage of.

      When Nintendo started to suffer poor sales, they manned up. They cut wages, started telling people to think up new ideas, and in general acknowledged they got cocky.

      Square on the other hand just pointed the finger in public interviews. From a public relations standpoint, they have not been humble and been trying to blame on everyone but themselves.

      Don’t give them any more money than what’s fair. You already did the right thing.

      • LustEnvy

        Not really, when I only paid $6 for this game the first time. The experience was worth much more than that to me, and had I known how incredible it was, I would’ve gladly pay full price for it when it first released. Re-buying it for PS4 was something I wanted to do, even if it were just a port of the PC version. It’s slightly better than that, and I’m happy with it.

        • Mike G. Moran

          There’s actually a good chance you gave them about as much money you would have if you bought the 360 or PS3 version. Digital sales are nearly pure profit, whereas retail isn’t even close.

          • LustEnvy

            Well, I downloaded it off the PSN store, not a physical copy, so I’m betting they get much more in this manner.

          • Mike G. Moran

            They made a profit on you, I’m sure. A lot of companies make tons of money on Steam even though most people wait for Steam sales. Digital is so favorable to the company that even when their games are going for like 5 bucks, they’re still making a killing.

            It’s actually really ridiculous, and it’s why certain companies like Activision refusing to price their digital games below 60 bucks is really agitating.

            As if they weren’t making enough money, they still want to charge 60 bucks (of pure profit) for a Call of Duty game that’s 4 years old.

    • monkey king

      PC version actually has higher res/smoother models due to tesselation.
      So if you don’t like the new face, the definitive edition has better/different lighting, not worth double dipping over imo.

  • Prinnydoom

    Never played Tomb Raider before this one and weirdly enough I just completed this yesterday. It was absolutely phenomenal, it was very reminiscent of Uncharted in some segments and while it was challenging in some areas it wasn’t so bad that it put me off playing it. I’ve never understood why people have problems with re-boots but i have to say that if your into the whole 3rd person, action adventure shooter genre this is defiantly a game you shouldn’t miss. Very brutal, very engaging loved it.

  • Nana

    I dislike Square Enix quite a bit and am no fan of the typical oversexed heroine characters.

    Thankfully, this Lara isn’t one, and the game is good, even when it’s from square. Thanks for notifying, will be bought first chance I get =).

    • LustEnvy

      Ironically, they sexed her up a bit in the Definitive version. She looks like a constant cover girl, even with dirt on her face. The original character model looked more innocent and her face emoted a bit more. Ah well. She’s attractive either way.

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