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'[GAME] Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (PS4)'

This thread has been linked to the game 'Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition'.
Thu 06/03/14 at 17:18:
Regular
"And in last place.."
Posts: 2,033
Note: single player only review

Definitive Edition. A fancy and concise way of saying ‘Now With Better Graphics’. Well perhaps I am being a touch harsh, there are some token items of multiplayer DLC thrown in I believe. So how definitive is this Definitive Edition and is it worth paying the higher entrance fee if you have already played the PS3 version?
These questions will be answered in due course but first a bit about the actual game itself. Not for the first time in the history of the Tomb Raider series, we have a reboot on our hands. This latest Tomb Raider game from Crystal Dynamics takes us back to the days before Lara Croft became a raider of tombs.

The story involves Lara’s first expedition and this is certainly on expedition she will never forget. On board the Endurance ship, Lara and companions are off searching for the lost kingdom on Yamati. The journey takes the shipmates to the Dragon’s Triangle, top of the list of places to avoid whilst out at sea. A violent storm greets them on arrival and after a dramatic shipwreck sequence, the crew find themselves washed up on a remote island and somewhat stranded. And wouldn’t you just know it, Lara ends up separated from the group. Fortunately a local is on hand to help Lara with a customary punch which knocks her out cold. Lara awakens to find herself a bit tied up and hanging upside down.

Escape is the first thing on Lara’s mind, getting back to her friends is the second. We are with Lara every step of the way as she starts out as a frightened and insecure young woman and finishes as a strong a ready for anything character by the end, the Lara we are more familiar with. We are reminded of Lara’s insecurities and self doubt many times in the game as she tells herself she “can do this”. Her friends also join in from time to time with the same reassuring words. These words are used so often that I’m surprised they are not used in the title, Tomb Raider Definitive I Can Do This Edition.

It doesn’t take Lara long to realise that there is a lot more to the island than meets the eye. The legend of the sun queen, Himoko, is what brought Lara here and she quickly learns that the stories are far from just legend. The sun queen is being worshipped by the islands current inhabitants and Lara is going to have to investigate further if she and her friends are going to get safely off the island.

The gameplay is quite different to the usual Tomb Raider offerings. With Lara’s inexperience, there is an element of survival. She starts out with a bow after finding one early in the game. This can be used as a means to hunt animals or as a silent weapon for taking down some enemies. By the end of the game she will have progressed onto guns and become quite a dab hand at all manner of weaponry. Hunting animals, killing enemies and various other actions are rewarded with XP. At camp sites these XP points can be used to upgrade Lara skills. There are 3 categories; hunting, exploring and combat. Each upgrade makes Lara more proficient in the skill and aids her survival.

Lara can climb as you’d expect but in fitting with the game progression, it starts off basic. Before long Lara is using her ace to scale rock faces to areas which would otherwise be inaccessible. The bow is upgraded with rope which allows Lara to pull certain sections down or open or even use it as a rope line to traverse to other sections. Lara will need to use all of these skills to get through all of the locations she visits.

The skills also come in handy for exploration. There are various bits and bobs scattered about as well as challenges to complete. Some of the items waiting to be found are letters which help expand the background story to the island prior to Lara’s arrival as well as notes which help us get to know some of the characters. It does puzzle me why people leave these things lying around but it seems to be a common occurrence in video game land. The camp sites can be used for fast travelling between visited locations easily allowing you to go back and mop up the items you didn’t find on your first venture through.

The game is very action based at times, more so than you may expect from a Tomb Raider game. At times it is a frantic roller coaster with plenty of ‘must leave NOW’ moments, ‘must not fall to my death’ moments and fighting numerous enemies. Some of the action scenes are very well done, quite dramatic with a little tension on top. Some of them, like the sliding uncontrollably, are perhaps repeated once or twice too often but that girl does get herself into all manner of scrapes.

As Lara isn’t quite a tomb raider yet, tombs play a trivial part. There are some tombs but they are all optional and basically boil down to a single room with a puzzle or two to solve. Traditional Tomb Raider gamers will find this part somewhat disappointing.
In summary, the worst tomb raiding game ever but an immensely enjoyable Tomb Raider game, even if it doesn’t quite feel like it is really part of the series.

But what of this Definitive Edition? Well the PS3 games was a fine looking game graphically. The Definitive Edition makes use of the extra power of the PS4 to improve the visuals but the results are not as easy to spot as you may think.

Hair is the big difference mentioned by the pre-release coverage. The technology used for the hair even has a name; TressFX. It sounds like some fancy salon shampoo that Lara uses. TressFX is used to give Lara’ hair some realistic movement for instance, moving in the breeze. To be honest, static hair is not something I noticed on the PS3 and the instant you see Lara hanging upside down and her pony tail defying gravity, you’ll be a little disappointed in TressFX.

The enhancements all really boil down to attention to detail aspects. These can be hard to spot in the middle of the game and you really have to know what you are looking for to notice. There are items such as foliage moving more and attention to detail on Lara’s skin so that water runs down more realistically or blood and cuts are improved but these all mostly go by unnoticed. Perhaps if you went back to the PS3 version the differences would be more profound but I have my doubts. A nice touch however, is using the speaker on the PS4 controller as the sound from Lara’s radio.

Overall I was a little disappointed that the PS4 version didn’t wow me and wasn’t noticeably better than the PS3 version. This perhaps says a lot for how impressive the PS3 version was. I’m not quite sure the game merits a Definitive Edition label but despite disappointments, it is still an excellent game. And before I forget, it isn’t worth upgrading if you have the PS3 version.

9 (based on the game itself)
7(when factoring in the disappointment over the visual improvements)
Sun 09/03/14 at 21:03:
Regular
"And in last place.."
Posts: 2,033
chasfh wrote:
Excellent review though!

Thanks.

With regards to balance, I played through on the PS3 a few weeks prior to doing so on the PS4 so it was still fairly fresh and the areas that gave me some bother first time round were relatively trouble free second time. I do know what you mean though.
Sun 09/03/14 at 13:24:
Staff Moderator
"Meh..."
Posts: 1,466
TressFX is a neat little gimmick that works beautifully on a PC set up for it, but it makes no difference to the game whatsoever. As an experiment in realism, it's pretty cool, but that's about as far as it goes.

With regard to gameplay, I found the new Tomb Raider somewhat flaky, and some parts were so ridiculously hard compared to the rest that it spoilt it for me. Balance is a key issue with a number of new or recent releases for me.

Excellent review though!
Thu 06/03/14 at 17:18:
Regular
"And in last place.."
Posts: 2,033
Note: single player only review

Definitive Edition. A fancy and concise way of saying ‘Now With Better Graphics’. Well perhaps I am being a touch harsh, there are some token items of multiplayer DLC thrown in I believe. So how definitive is this Definitive Edition and is it worth paying the higher entrance fee if you have already played the PS3 version?
These questions will be answered in due course but first a bit about the actual game itself. Not for the first time in the history of the Tomb Raider series, we have a reboot on our hands. This latest Tomb Raider game from Crystal Dynamics takes us back to the days before Lara Croft became a raider of tombs.

The story involves Lara’s first expedition and this is certainly on expedition she will never forget. On board the Endurance ship, Lara and companions are off searching for the lost kingdom on Yamati. The journey takes the shipmates to the Dragon’s Triangle, top of the list of places to avoid whilst out at sea. A violent storm greets them on arrival and after a dramatic shipwreck sequence, the crew find themselves washed up on a remote island and somewhat stranded. And wouldn’t you just know it, Lara ends up separated from the group. Fortunately a local is on hand to help Lara with a customary punch which knocks her out cold. Lara awakens to find herself a bit tied up and hanging upside down.

Escape is the first thing on Lara’s mind, getting back to her friends is the second. We are with Lara every step of the way as she starts out as a frightened and insecure young woman and finishes as a strong a ready for anything character by the end, the Lara we are more familiar with. We are reminded of Lara’s insecurities and self doubt many times in the game as she tells herself she “can do this”. Her friends also join in from time to time with the same reassuring words. These words are used so often that I’m surprised they are not used in the title, Tomb Raider Definitive I Can Do This Edition.

It doesn’t take Lara long to realise that there is a lot more to the island than meets the eye. The legend of the sun queen, Himoko, is what brought Lara here and she quickly learns that the stories are far from just legend. The sun queen is being worshipped by the islands current inhabitants and Lara is going to have to investigate further if she and her friends are going to get safely off the island.

The gameplay is quite different to the usual Tomb Raider offerings. With Lara’s inexperience, there is an element of survival. She starts out with a bow after finding one early in the game. This can be used as a means to hunt animals or as a silent weapon for taking down some enemies. By the end of the game she will have progressed onto guns and become quite a dab hand at all manner of weaponry. Hunting animals, killing enemies and various other actions are rewarded with XP. At camp sites these XP points can be used to upgrade Lara skills. There are 3 categories; hunting, exploring and combat. Each upgrade makes Lara more proficient in the skill and aids her survival.

Lara can climb as you’d expect but in fitting with the game progression, it starts off basic. Before long Lara is using her ace to scale rock faces to areas which would otherwise be inaccessible. The bow is upgraded with rope which allows Lara to pull certain sections down or open or even use it as a rope line to traverse to other sections. Lara will need to use all of these skills to get through all of the locations she visits.

The skills also come in handy for exploration. There are various bits and bobs scattered about as well as challenges to complete. Some of the items waiting to be found are letters which help expand the background story to the island prior to Lara’s arrival as well as notes which help us get to know some of the characters. It does puzzle me why people leave these things lying around but it seems to be a common occurrence in video game land. The camp sites can be used for fast travelling between visited locations easily allowing you to go back and mop up the items you didn’t find on your first venture through.

The game is very action based at times, more so than you may expect from a Tomb Raider game. At times it is a frantic roller coaster with plenty of ‘must leave NOW’ moments, ‘must not fall to my death’ moments and fighting numerous enemies. Some of the action scenes are very well done, quite dramatic with a little tension on top. Some of them, like the sliding uncontrollably, are perhaps repeated once or twice too often but that girl does get herself into all manner of scrapes.

As Lara isn’t quite a tomb raider yet, tombs play a trivial part. There are some tombs but they are all optional and basically boil down to a single room with a puzzle or two to solve. Traditional Tomb Raider gamers will find this part somewhat disappointing.
In summary, the worst tomb raiding game ever but an immensely enjoyable Tomb Raider game, even if it doesn’t quite feel like it is really part of the series.

But what of this Definitive Edition? Well the PS3 games was a fine looking game graphically. The Definitive Edition makes use of the extra power of the PS4 to improve the visuals but the results are not as easy to spot as you may think.

Hair is the big difference mentioned by the pre-release coverage. The technology used for the hair even has a name; TressFX. It sounds like some fancy salon shampoo that Lara uses. TressFX is used to give Lara’ hair some realistic movement for instance, moving in the breeze. To be honest, static hair is not something I noticed on the PS3 and the instant you see Lara hanging upside down and her pony tail defying gravity, you’ll be a little disappointed in TressFX.

The enhancements all really boil down to attention to detail aspects. These can be hard to spot in the middle of the game and you really have to know what you are looking for to notice. There are items such as foliage moving more and attention to detail on Lara’s skin so that water runs down more realistically or blood and cuts are improved but these all mostly go by unnoticed. Perhaps if you went back to the PS3 version the differences would be more profound but I have my doubts. A nice touch however, is using the speaker on the PS4 controller as the sound from Lara’s radio.

Overall I was a little disappointed that the PS4 version didn’t wow me and wasn’t noticeably better than the PS3 version. This perhaps says a lot for how impressive the PS3 version was. I’m not quite sure the game merits a Definitive Edition label but despite disappointments, it is still an excellent game. And before I forget, it isn’t worth upgrading if you have the PS3 version.

9 (based on the game itself)
7(when factoring in the disappointment over the visual improvements)

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