The Tomb Raider series has brought fans years upon years of content, ranging from movies to comics and books. Then of course, there’s our favorite– the outlet where it all began: video games. The newest Tomb Raider was released in 2013 and marked a complete overhaul of the series with a whole new Lara Croft and stunningly impressive graphics to really show just why Tomb Raider has been such a lasting part in many gamers’ lives. Providing us with insight on the very beginning of Lara’s tomb raiding adventures, we got a look at a Lara that had not yet fully found her wings, and watched her grow into a brave, powerful, and agile woman.
When Tomb Raider was released for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC, it looked graphically amazing. But when Crystal Dynamics announced that they would be creating a remastering titled Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for the Xbox One and Playstation 4, we were thoroughly excited to go adventuring with Lara once more, this time in even higher quality. While many of you may think that it isn’t worth the $60 admittance fee considering you can get the game for Xbox 360 or PS3 for much cheaper, or maybe you already own the game on these consoles, but trust us, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is a must play for all of you Tomb Raider fans looking for some more tomb raiding action. If you haven’t played Tomb Raider before, now is the perfect time, because Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is an amazing experience from start to finish.
If you have already played Tomb Raider before, then nothing has changed in the Definitive Edition when it comes to story. All story elements remain the same. For those of you who haven’t, Tomb Raider follows the epic tale of Lara Croft: a young archaeologist looking to follow in her unfortunately deceased father’s footsteps. Aboard a large ship with a crew of fellow archaeologists and friends, they tirelessly search for a lost, ancient civilization. While the leader of the group wishes to go East in search of this mysteriously vanished civilization, Lara’s instincts and research tell her they should go straight into the Devil’s Triangle. Going on a hunch, the crew decide to take her lead. Unfortunately, that turns out to yield a devastating turn of events for everyone involved.
While the story is something that helps provide a background for the adventures of Lara Croft, it is not the main reason why people loved this game so much. The story was interesting, providing us with insight into Lara’s character and providing for some high-action sequences; however, sometimes the story is a bit lackluster and you find yourself caring more about the thoroughly impressive gameplay aspects than the story itself. Similarly, the secondary characters aren’t developed very well, and the only way to receive the majority of background on these characters is by collecting their letters that they have left scattered about the island. For the most part, Lara is the only character that you will really feel that you care for, and although the importance of the other characters are amplified by Lara’s outward protective nature over them, these characters get somewhat lost behind all of the other great things about this game.
However, the remodeling of Lara’s character is really nice to see. While some fans were skeptical about her new look, the older version of Tomb Raider featured a Lara that was designed for, let’s face it– men. With a tight tank top and short shorts, she was pleasing to look at, in slightly unrealistic garb for someone who traverses mountains. Lara Croft was also always spotless even going through mud-filled areas, always looking perfect no matter the weather conditions. This new Lara, however, is not meant for sex appeal. She is meant to be a strong female character that proves she is brave and can get down and dirt like the big boys.
The gameplay is where Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition really shines. While the overall mechanics of the game haven’t changed in the Definitive Edition, there are a few added bonuses that you get upon purchasing it. For one, you get all of Lara Croft’s bonus outfits that were originally DLC, allowing you to transform the look of Lara to fit the terrain, or just for personal preference. Definitive Edition also features a bonus tomb that wasn’t originally in the game, allowing you to further hunt for relics and gain rewards. When it comes to multiplayer, Definitive Edition also gives you a few totally awesome guns from Hitman: Absolution, along with a few extra characters to play as. Another addition is the use of voice controls. Simply say “Shotgun” and Lara will switch to her shotgun. Surprisingly, this actually works really effectively and can save you time and hassle while up against a horde of enemies; however, if you are in an XBL or PSN party with other people, the voice commands can get quite irritating as it will often switch your weapons if it thinks you are trying to command it.
One really cool feature that the PS4 version of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition has that the Xbox One version does not is all thanks to the Dualshock 4’s light bar. When Lara is holding a torch, the light bar with flicker red and orange, emulating fire. When you shoot your gun, the light bar will flash once, making the action feel more real. Also, if you are getting shot up or are dead in the multiplayer, the light bar will turn red, showing that you are dying or already dead. Although this isn’t the major selling point of the Definitive Edition, it is an added bonus that is actually pretty cool to witness.
While this Tomb Raider reboot is different gameplay-wise than the previous games and takes on more of an open world approach rather than going from one tomb to the next, the freedom that Tomb Raider features and all of the possibilities of extra exploration make it a game that gamers of all sorts will love. If you want to play an action game, but don’t find puzzle solving to be your forte, then you have the option to skip over the majority of the tombs entirely, although this is not recommended. If you are an obsessive scavenger, the world of Tomb Raider is filled with chests of loot, lost relics, GPS locators, and letters for you to find. If you like to use Lara’s handy bow and arrow to hunt down boar and other animals, you can do that as well, and all of this you can do at your own speed thanks to the newly-implemented open world mechanic. The freedom to roam and do as you please is part of what makes this game so addictive, and gives a higher level of replayability once you have beaten the main story.
In the main story, you receive various weapons throughout the game, all of which are completely upgradeable to turn them into the ultimate killing machines. The bow and arrow proves to be extremely powerful from long distances, while the shotgun can easily maul down close-range enemies. You can also perform brutal finishing kills with the help of your pick axe or other weapons upon unlocking these skills. Skills can be purchased after gaining various amount of experience points that can be gained through kills, completing missions, and opening XP chests. You can choose to enhance your skills in three categories: Hunter, Brawler, and Survivalist. You may want to upgrade your scavenging abilities early on, as this will help you to obtain XP and salvage so that you may upgrade your weapons and skills from the get-go.
Of course, Tomb Raider contains a large amount of platforming, making Lara traverse up craggy or ice-wreathed cliffs, jumping up walls to reach higher destinations, and speeding across wire lines. This game has a very Uncharted-like feel to it, and is sure to make any adventure game fan proud. Games with platforming elements need tight controls that aren’t easily misdirected, and Tomb Raider does just that. Lara’s motions are fluid and direct, always going where intended, making gameplay thrilling and exciting rather than frustrating.
Combat against enemies is equally fun. The crossbow feels amazing in your hands as you draw out the arrow, let it charge up, and launch it into the enemy. Combat relies heavily and ducking for cover and also dodging when necessary, as enemies often throw Molotov cocktails or come swinging large objects and hatchets with brute force. Always keeping you on your toes, combat in Tomb Raider is impressive, fluid, and tons of fun.
When it comes to Tomb Raider’s multiplayer mode, it isn’t anything to be too impressed by. You have the standard modes such as Team Deathmatch and Free for All, along with other game modes such as Rescue (where you have to try to retrieve medical supplies and bring them to your camp, while the opposing side tries to stop you), and Cry for Help (a mode where you try to activate radio transmitters to put out an SOS). While the multiplayer can be fun entertainment for you and a few friends to show your competitive nature, there is very little that is unique in this mode, and you will find yourself playing other multiplayers much more than this one.
The graphical changes in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition are the main reasons why one would want to pick up a copy of this remastered version. Crystal Dynamics had already placed a heavy emphasis on graphical prowess, even adding lifelike physics to Lara Croft’s hair, making it blow in the wind and with texturing that would make her worthy to be the spokesperson in every Pantene TV commercial and advertisement. Well, in the Definitive Edition, Lara’s hair looks even better. And so does the environment, of course.
Showcased at 60fps on the PS4 version, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is best on this console, as the Xbox One version is only 30-40fps. Either way though, this game is stunning. The island has never looked more beautiful, and you will find yourself often screen capturing this game with the PS4 Share button. In rainy areas, the droplets will look as if there is actual water on your screen. It is actually quite trippy how realistic this game is. The graphical overhaul is overtly impressive and is graphically one of the most wonderfully beautiful games out on current generation consoles.
Tomb Raider has an incredible soundtrack. High octane, action-packed sequences are fueled by adventure-themed music, getting you amped to mow down enemies. Even sound effects such as rushing water or falling rain, the sound your arrow makes when it is being launched, and the sound of your pick axe nudging into rock and ice walls, make all of your actions feel rewarding. An extra addition this is featured with the Definitive Edition on PS4 is, once again, thanks in part to the Dualshock 4 controller. Some actions, such as opening your map, will result in sound coming out of your controller, emulating the opening of the map. Yet, Tomb Raider is a game that is best experienced by sporting surround sound headphones in order to truly immerse yourselves in the wonders of the island.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is absolutely amazing. With impressive graphics, intriguing sound effects, and a brave, strong front woman, Lara Croft, raiding tombs and exploring a long-lost island has never been so much fun. While Tomb Raider has its problems, the amount of epic content makes us easily see past all of that, which made it highly worthy of a place on everybody’s Game of the Year 2013 list. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition allows us to experience that excitement all over again and even better than ever. Because of that, we highly recommend it to all of you Tomb Raider fans out there and anyone who is in the mood for a bit of adventure.