by Matthew Thompson
I just finished playing through Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition on PlayStation 4 this past weekend and I feel about the same as I did after playing it on PS3 last year. This reboot is a good cinematic action game in the vein of Uncharted with some twists to the formula. Even looked at as this type of game it has some issues, but remains a fun romp for those looking for that sort of experience. As a Tomb Raider game though, I found it disappointing. It gets too far away from its platforming and puzzle-solving roots to really deliver for me as a fan of that series. And maybe worse is when you do get to spend some time doing those more classic adventure-y Tomb Raider types of gameplay, you realize those elements have been stripped down to a much easier simplified version of their former selves.
But I’m not going to harp on that right now. I’ll be taking a much more solution-oriented look at this issue in a few upcoming blogs as I make my pitch for a sequel to Lara’s latest adventure. For now I wanted to chime in on what the Definitive Edition offers.
I can’t say enough good things about how it looks. I kind of thought all the talk of how they were revamping the game’s graphics was lip-service to try and justify the absurd asking price, but they really have done a great job making this look “next-gen.” Tomb Raider was already a pretty game with some quality art design, but everything in the PS4 version just looks so detailed and crisp. This wasn’t a game that was exactly begging for 60 frames per second, but it certainly doesn’t hurt and it really runs smoothly. Lara also looks a bit different. Most notably she features bigger eyes and a slightly different jawline or at least that was my take on it. It was a little strange seeing side by side pics, but it ends up being a non-factor as she looks fine in the game. A lot was made of the new hair tech that was already featured in the PC version and I rather like it. I didn’t experience many of the odd glitches I heard complaints about so it was a positive for me. Overall I was impressed with the graphical leap this version took over its PS3 counterpart though I imagine PC gamers with good setups might not be quite as dazzled by the updated visuals.
As for actual changes to the game, there aren’t a ton. The Dualshock 4’s LED light glows different colors according to the on-screen action. For instance it flickers red and orange when you have a torch lit which is a neat touch. Some actions are mapped to the touchpad or can be controlled via voice-commands (though both are optional). And the game includes all the DLC. Most of this was multiplayer stuff which I didn’t try at all here and didn’t bother much with the first go round. The one extra tomb, The Tomb of the Lost Adventurer (pictured below), was nice and one of the better ones in the game, but still pretty small compared to the classic tombs we’d come to expect from the series. I did dig a couple of the outfits they included as well, particularly the Sureshot and Mountaineer ones (shown in the screens above).
So you pretty much get the same game as on last-gen consoles with a few minor tweaks that don’t really hold much value in my opinion and some amazing graphics. I should probably go play Killzone: Shadow Fall again before saying this but it’s probably the best looking game I’ve played at least when looked at technically. Ultimately though these changes don’t warrant them charging the full $60 price for what is an almost one-year old game at this point. I think $30-40 would have been more appropriate and waiting for a price drop or perhaps renting it (which is what I did) would be best. It’s a solid enough game that it might be worth a go to help you deal some of the PS4’s intermittent first-year droughts. It’d also probably have a lot more value for someone who never tried it the first time around. And might go over better for people new to the franchise (I like to think big Tomb Raider fans already checked this one out and have made up their mind whether they liked the new direction the reboot took anyway).
I’ll be back within the next couple weeks sometime with some thoughts on how I’d handle a sequel to this Tomb Raider reboot. So keep an eye out for that soon. Thanks for reading!