Micro Review: Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Adding Polish to an Already Amazing Game

By Joel Taveras

February 24, 2014

No, this isn’t a review for Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Instead, this is more like an amendment to the game we reviewed back in March of last year. A chance to rekindle the romance we had with the re-imagining of Lara Croft’s story; an effort brought to us by the development team at Crystal Dynamics. Read on to find out what makes this edition of Tomb Raider so definitive.

This is the same game you enjoyed back in March… just a little more HD-er. No seriously though, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is exactly that. An enhanced version of the game customized for the new current generation consoles, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, respectively. Regardless of what platform you’re playing on, you’ll be receiving a title upgrade that trumps even that of the PC version.

Screenshot Captured Using #PS4Share

What the team of Crystal Dynamics did here was instead of rebuilding the house, they put a (very nice) fresh coat of paint on it and decided to add some trimmings along the way.

Lara’s character model (mostly her hair and face) has been reworked, giving us a more natural and lifelike appearance. This translates to better emotion in the game’s more demanding moments, and gives the character visual parity with the character model that is shown on the games box art. It’s seems that this generation we’ll finally start seeing visuals (or at the very least character models) in games that actually match up to the super high res assets that are released for them. Finally.

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In motion is where the game sets itself apart from its previous version. The Definitive Edition throws in added physics that not only affect the environment but even from the strands of hair on Lara’s head all the way down to the equipment that she’s carrying. Her weapons and tools all have their own weight rather than having the look of being painted on. In the more frantic moments of the game, it’s those kinds subtle details that add a higher level of realism. It makes Lara’s character model seem much more alive.

Screenshot Captured Using #PS4Share

A couple of areas that received noticeable bumps, other than physics, were both the game’s lighting and environmental effects. Let me preface by saying that on last gen consoles and PC, Tomb Raider was no slouch in the visuals department to begin with. But what they’ve done here is added much more natural lighting and particles.

Flames from a torch bounce off of cave walls and other surroundings the way you’d expect them to (and brighter than last time around). Enemy spotlights aren’t just bright circles piercing through the darkness; instead they have the ability to cut through a rainy night and highlight individual rains drops as they make their way across a scene. Environment effects become noticeable during the game’s many explosions, set pieces, and even the more peaceful moments when you’re simply taking in the amazing surroundings and see what appears to be hundreds of birds circling in your area. It makes the environment feel as alive as Lara herself.

Screenshot Captured Using #PS4Share

It also doesn’t hurt that the game is running at native 1080p using the higher resolution textures from the PC version. And adding to that, both consoles are running it at respectable frame rates. The Xbox One version comes in at a rock solid 30fps, while the PS4 version (the version that I played) bounces between 40fps and 60fps, all depending on what kind of action is taking place on screen. So no matter which console you’re playing on, the game is going to look gorgeous either way.

When Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition was rumored and then confirmed late last year, players hoped that it would come at a discounted price.

Then it was announced that it would retail for $59.99. And while I believe that price point is a couple of dollars too high for those who’ve already played the game to double dip, if you’re new to the title or it slipped into your backlog, you’ll be so glad that you waited. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition delivers on the promise described in the title and it’s the best possible way to experience this critically acclaimed game.

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Joel Taveras

Joel Taveras is one of the founding members of DualShockers. He hails from New York City where he lives with his wife and two sons. During his tenure with the site, he's held every position from news writer to community manager to editor in chief. Currently he manages the behind the scenes and day-to-day operations at the publication.

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