2013’s Tomb Raider reboot was a pretty decent game. It introduced Lara Croft’s origin story, and gave gamers a more realistic, believable Lara to play as, and it generally reviewed well. It “only” sold four million copies, though, which was below publisher Square Enix’s sales expectations of upwards of five million.
So it was no surprise when a “Definitive Edition” of Tomb Raider was announced at the end of 2013. It was to be the ultimate version of the game that would feature a significant graphics overhaul designed to take advantage of the more powerful hardware of the two next-generation games consoles, as well as some extra content to sweeten the deal.
Having played the game extensively, both in its original form and this new “Definitive” version for the PlayStation 4, we can say with certainty that it looks better in every way than the console versions that came out in 2013. Better than the PC version, even. If you played it on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 back in 2013, and you were disappointed with the game’s jagged edges or the occasional drop in frame rate, you’re in for a treat.
The first thing we noticed was that Lara has been given a digital makeover. Particular attention has been paid to her hair, her skin and the subtle yet important ways she gets sullied with mud and blood as the game progresses. She’s grubbier, yet also somehow prettier and more vulnerable-looking in this enhanced edition, and the amazing TressFX technology that went into making her hair behave realistically in the PC version is on full display here too. In short, Lara looks more gorgeous than ever before.
But then, so do the levels. The designers sharpened up all of the textures in the game and tweaked the lighting model to create more realistic environments, and the draw distance has been increased so that even far-off things look detailed now. On our PlayStation 4 version, everything ran at a brisk frame rate, with no slowdowns or juddering at any point to mar our enjoyment.
The extra content is a bit of a letdown, however. There is only one new tomb to raid and it takes less than 15 minutes to run through, and the additional multiplayer maps and skins don’t add much unless you’re really into the game’s survivors vs. islanders deathmatches. Judging by the number of people not online playing, that isn’t very likely.
So this new edition is still excellent, insofar as it’s the same game from last year, only prettier. But because it doesn’t offer that much in the way of truly new content, and the stuff that is new isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it’s not really worth the full asking price if you’ve played it before on another platform.
Tomb Raider Definitive Edition by Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix
Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, R699
The good: Gorgeous graphical upgrade, still the same excellent game
The bad: New tomb section is quite short, multiplayer assets have limited appeal, no real need for fans to re-play it
Rating: 6/10 represents the value for gamers who’ve already played the original, 9/10 for the graphics enhancements, 8/10 overall