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Review: Tomb Raider Definitive Edition is merely a facelift

By Nick Cowen on Monday 27th Jan 2014 at 10:04 AM UTC

Last year's Tomb Raider is arguably one of the best games ever released during the last generation of consoles. If you enjoy adventure games and you have a platform capable of playing it then, if you've not already done so, sally forth and obtain a copy. You'll be sorted for pretty much an entire weekend.

The 2013 reboot is essentially an origin story for Lara Croft set in a darker and altogether grittier world than long-time fans of the series are used to. Developer Crystal Dynamics puts poor Ms. Croft through a brutal gauntlet of enemies and obstacles and, to be quite frank, it's something of a marvel that she's not physically crippled at the end of it - although, it's clear the experience has left an indelible mark on her psyche.

In terms of structure, Tomb Raider plays like a more open-ended entry in the Uncharted series; there are tons of gunfights, action set pieces, platforming sections and puzzles to solve. The main difference between Lara's and Drake's adventures is that, at some stages, players have a wider corridor to explore and they're also able to double back on themselves, picking up trinkets and collectibles they may have missed, or were unable to obtain, in earlier stages of the game.

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As tempting as it is to delve further into the game's mechanics, progression and plot, this is ground covered in CVG's original Tomb Raider review and there's little point in repeating that here. The purpose of this verdict is to assess whether Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is worth purchasing - whether you're doing it for the first time or because you'd like to play a copy on your brand new Xbox One or PS4.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition certainly looks the part. Since the specs of the PS4 and Xbox One are comparable to current high-end gaming rigs it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that both can keep pace with the absolutely gorgeous depth offered on the PC platform. The PS4 has the slight edge since it maintains a higher frame-rate than the Xbox One version, but that's not really a deal-breaker.

Tomb Raider was always a very good-looking game - even on the last generation - and besides, its primary appeal wasn't tied up in its visuals. It was present and correct in everything else -the pacing, plotting, mechanics, level design - and none of that has changed. Now, it just all looks a little more vibrant and detailed.

Alongside the better graphics, Square Enix is offering all the DLC as bait, but truth be told, it's not up to much. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition contains a new tomb - which players will find early on in the single-player campaign - and some new maps for the multiplayer.

"Tomb Raider was always a very good-looking game and its primary appeal wasn't tied up in its visuals"

The new tomb is enjoyable, although like all of the other tombs in the game, players are likely to spend under ten minutes solving it. The new maps are good but they don't improve the multiplayer experience significantly. Is the online mode still fun? You bet, in a knock around kind of way. Is it likely to rob the CODs and Battlefields of this world of any significant numbers? Not a cat's chance in hell.

So what else is new? Well, if you're playing Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition on an Xbox One or if you have a camera hooked up to your PS4 you can use voice and gestures as part of the game interface - though why would you? The control pad feels like the more natural interface and on top of it, the voice and gesture commands feel superfluous to the proceedings.

Still, if you fancy waving and yelling at your console during Tomb Raider, you now have some reasons to do so. You can wave your hands in order to rotate artifacts. You can lean right or left in certain moments to change the camera angle. You can also switch between weapons or open up the map simply by saying the word that corresponds with the item you're after, although unfortunately on the PS4 version, if an enemy in the vicinity uses one of these words - 'she's got a gun! - Lara can sometimes switch weapons unprompted, which is more than a little irritating.

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The Definitive Edition's most obvious drawback is its price. At the time of release it will cost you almost three times more than the last-gen or PC versions. So the question facing anyone considering purchasing this edition is simple: do you think that improved graphics, a couple of maps, a new tomb, a couple of weapons attachments and a set of motion and voice controls you're unlikely to use anyway are worth the extra cash?

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Tomb Raider is a great game and if you've never experienced it before, it's certainly worth picking up a copy, but it's hard to unreservedly recommend the Definitive Edition at full price.

The PC version has been gorgeous to behold since its release a year ago and even with their marginally inferior visuals, the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions are fantastic value for money at their current prices. The DLC extras don't significantly add to Tomb Raider's brilliance, so unless the only gaming platforms you own are either an Xbox One or a PS4 (or both), this feels like a lot of money to shell out on a game that's nearly a year old.

The verdict

Tomb Raider is a truly excellent adventure, but it's hard to recommend Definitive Edition if you've experienced it before.

  • Best looking version on a console
  • Mechanics and design are rock solid
  • Single player campaign is amazing...
  • ...as it is on cheaper versions
  • Voice and gesture commands feel superfluous
  • Paltry amount of extra content, given the price
8
Format
Xbox One
Developer
Crystal Dynamics
Publisher
Square Enix
Genre
Action, Adventure

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