It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly eighteen years since gamers were first introduced to fortune hunting femme fatale, Lara Croft. After about a dozen games, two movies, and even a popular comic book series, the Tomb Raider franchise was primed for a fresh start. Last year, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix delivered in spades, with the release of Tomb Raider for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. This gritty reboot put a young Lara though a trial by fire, forging her into a new hero for a new age. Now Lara’s odyssey has come to the next generation of consoles with Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.
In case you missed it the first time around, Tomb Raider presents gamers with an origin story of sorts for this newer, younger, and (at least initially) more naive Lara Croft. Lara is a part of an expedition to discover the location of the ancient kingdom of Yamatai. When her research points in the direction of an island hidden in the center of the legendary Devil’s Triangle, things take a dramatic turn for the worse. A sudden, violent storm hits the research vessel, wrecking the ship and leaving the survivors marooned on the mysterious island. As if that wasn’t enough, Lara and the crew aren’t the only ones on the island. Lara has to fight for survival against a crazed cult, led by the maniacal Father Mathias, and stop his plans to resurrect the Sun Queen, Himiko, shamanistic ruler of the Yamatai kingdom.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, like the title implies, is an upgraded version of last year’s hit. It includes all of the DLC and bonus content previously released, but more importantly, the Definitive Edition has been retooled specifically for the latest generation of consoles. This version of the game features redesigned character models, enhanced environments and effects, and more detailed textures. I’ve got to give a slight edge to the PS4 version. The Xbox One version tops out at a framerate of 30fps, while the PlayStation 4 version supports up to 60fps. Either way, though, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is one of the best looking games currently available on Xbox One or PlayStation 4.
The gameplay in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition remains relatively unchanged, which is a good thing. The developers did toss in a few new tricks to take advantage of the unique capabilities of the new consoles. Both versions incorporate optional voice commands to access the map, navigate menus, etc. The Xbox One version includes some basic Kinect gestures, mainly for getting a “hands-on” feeling when examining relics or leaning your body get a different view of the screen. The PS4 version has a couple of cosmetic additions as well (lighting effects on the PS4 controller), but the real draw is the ability to stream the experience to the PS Vita from the console. Sure, this is supposed to be a default feature for PlayStation 4 games, but Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition doesn’t skip a beat when switched to the handheld experience.
If you already own a copy of Tomb Raider, it might be a hard sell to convince you to pick up the Definitive Edition. Admittedly, although the game includes all of the past DLC, there really wasn’t much to begin with. The game also looks and plays just fine on the 360 or PS3. However, if you have missed out on the Tomb Raider experience before now, or if you want to see just how big of a difference the newest consoles can make, there’s no excuse not to include Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition in your next-gen lineup.
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)