As far as previous generation games go, Tomb Raider was hardly lacking in the visuals department, so it may seem like a strange choice for a visual upgrade and shunt onto the now current generation consoles. The most obvious motivation for this is money, though Crystal Dynamics have stated that the Definitive Edition was more about getting to know the hardware capabilities. But just how much of an upgrade has Tomb Raider received? Not much of one is the honest answer.
Lara went and had her hair done at a fancy salon. That’s pretty much it. The textures are apparently nicer and I’m sure if you showed me them side-by-side I’d agree, but like I said before; Tomb Raider was hardly an ugly game to begin with. The new hairdo does look nice, utilising AMD’s TressFX technology. Other additions include changes to how Lara gets muddy, wet or covered in blood. No word yet on the drizzling Lara in honey special effects but I’m sure they are in there. On the whole everything looks nicer, but not a huge amount.
On the frame rate débâcle I’ll say this; it’s fine on the Xbox One. I never noticed any drops or juddering or anything that affected either gameplay or immersion. The frame rate will be higher on the PS4 version so if that’s your bag then pick it up on the PS4, but Tomb Raider Definitive Edition’s frame rate is in no way unacceptable or hideous on the Xbox One.
Tomb Raider Definitive Edition also takes advantage of the unique features of the Xbox One and PS4, with varying degrees of success. You can now switch weapons and open the map by saying the appropriate cue, like “Bow” or “Open map”. I played the Xbox One version so I can’t vouch for the PS4, but I’m sure the voice commands are as functional on there as they are on Microsoft’s big black box, which is to say kind of . I’ve never had the Kinect miss a voice command I’ve given it in Tomb Raider, but I’ve had it imagine a few that I didn’t give. Much like Dead Rising 3, the ability to pause the game by saying “pause” will cause you no end of hassle as pretty much any noise under the sun sounds like pause/unpause to the loveable little spy cam.
What with Microsoft having poured Scrooge McDuck’s entire vault into the Kinect 2.0’s development, it has a few more tricks up its sleeves when compared with the PS4’s camera; it’s just that they are all a bit naff in this instance. You can use the gesture controls to rotate relics when you’re observing them in the menu, which is surprisingly functional but utterly pointless. In addition to this, you have the ability to ‘change perspective’ during cinematic climbing sequences, or ‘move the camera a bit to the side’ if you’re not using developer hype terminology. This feature is as pointless as the object rotating, but without the charm of being functional or useful. During a cinematic moment I don’t want to be viewing the screen from a 45 degree slant just so I can have a slightly better idea of where I’m jumping to. The Kinect 2.0 is great when used properly but for the love of Himiko it needs to start being used appropriately.
Tomb Raider Definitive Edition does come with all the DLC included, which would be a lot more impressive if there was actually any worthwhile DLC. There is one extra optional tomb which takes about five minutes to complete at a stretch, a few extra guns and then a load of multiplayer maps for the game’s lacklustre multiplayer offering. It seems like Crystal Dynamics missed a prime opportunity to add in some new content here.
But what about the story? The gameplay? The actual game stuff? Well it’s entirely unchanged from the previous generation version of Tomb Raider. Tomb Raider is a fantastic game, a true gem of the action adventure genre. Lara’s journey from naïve archaeologist to the ultimate survivor is brilliantly executed and if you haven’t played it yet, then I highly advise you pick up Tomb Raider Definitive Edition on either the Xbox One or PS4. But if you have played it before then just save your money. It’s the same game: same gameplay, same plot, same environments, same pretty much everything. A slight visual enhancement is not enough justification for you to part with your cash a second time.