It is hard to say that one of the best-looking games from the PS3 and Xbox 360 needed a visual upgrade, but that is exactly what we got with “Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.” The game is a re-release of a reboot that came out a little less than a year ago in March 2013. Lara Croft made the jump to the newest console generation (PS4 and Xbox One), running at a buttery-smooth 60 frames per second and looking better than ever. This edition is more than just a graphical update; it also bundles all the downloadable content from the original game. Now, the question is: Is it worth purchasing?
The “Definitive Edition” is basically the same game as the original, and nothing is added to the story. The game focuses on recreating the legend that is Lara Croft, telling the tale of her origin story. As a character, she is more relatable, vulnerable and actually resembles a realistic woman as opposed to a sexual entity. One of the most powerful moments in the game is the first time she is forced to kill someone. She not only feels for the man, but she breaks down into tears because she is so horrified at what she has just done. While Lara must overcome the challenges in front of her and learn how to survive all by herself, the gameplay still includes all of the climbing and crazy stunts involved to make this into an exciting action-adventure. The controls are tight and every mechanic is still as smooth as it was in the original release.
Usually, a graphical upgrade does very little to improve gameplay. That does not hold true with “Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.” Lara must explore what she believes to be an abandoned island, where she is stranded after going on a search for the lost kingdom of Yamatai. This unnamed world is large and vibrant; the grass and trees move along with the rhythm of the breeze. The island is as much a part of the game as Lara so the visual upgrades make it that much more enjoyable to explore, creating an immersive experience in which every movement you make feels real.
With new hardware comes new features that were not included in the PS3 and Xbox 360. Luckily, “Tomb Raider” uses the new features. Both the PS4 and Xbox One utilize voice commands (for which you need the PS4 Camera or Kinect, respectively). Exclusive to the Xbox One and Kinect is the ability to use hand gestures to move items around while inspecting them. You are able to pull out a map or equip a weapon using certain voice commands, but sadly the technology is not advanced enough to make it a reliable choice. Shouts or in-game sounds sometimes accidentally activate the commands, putting you in an even more difficult situation. The PS4 also uses the light bar on the DualShock 4 for the PS4 controller in a very gimmicky way. When you light a torch, the light on the Dualshock 4 flickers along with the torch. These features add very little to experience, especially when you consider how smooth the game was originally.
The bundled downloadable content is a nice touch for sure — the only downside is that it wasn’t very good in the first place. The content only includes one extra single-player tomb to explore. The rest of the downloadable content pertains to multiplayer gameplay — some extra maps, weapon attachments and items. Sadly, it is still the same boring experience from the original game, and unfortunately it really is not worth much playtime. Although multiplayer gameplay features three different game modes that include player-versus-player matches where you try to take out the other team, overall it is extremely dull; the problem is that it uses the same combat system used during the campaign, which does not lend itself well to the multiplayer experience. It feels very clunky.
It is odd to re-release a game that is less than a year old, but Square Enix did add some new features along with a large graphical increase to rival PC graphics. Unfortunately, all of the additions except the graphical upgrade don’t accomplish much for an experience that was already top-notch. If you’ve never played the game, then this is the best way to experience it, but if you have already played through “Tomb Raider” on the PS3 or Xbox 360, then it is probably not worth the double dip.
Rating: 4 stars