Published on January 26th, 2014 | by Admin
Tomb Raider Definitive Edition PS4 Review
Summary: Tomb Raider Definitive Edition is a must have game on the PS4!
Tomb Raider Definitive Edition
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Crystal Dynamix & United Front Games
Reviewer: Andrew Bistak
The PlayStation 4 is an amazing console and like the XBox One is slightly hampered by quality launch titles but to help fill this void, Square Enix have launched Tomb Raider Definitive Edition that not only looks amazing on the PS4 but plays exceptionally well. The Definitive Edition also includes all the original downloadable content for the game plus two digital books and the making of the game. It should also be noted that Tomb Raider on the PS4 supports native 1080p graphics with 4k textures that runs at a very impressive 60 frames per second. It also supports a whole wealth of graphical improvements that makes Lara Croft look the best she has ever looked thanks to the TRESS FX technology and new shader/lighting special effects.
Also if you think this game is just a PC port, you’ll be sorely mistaken because Crystal Dynamix and United Front Games (the developers responsible for the new graphical upgrade) have taken the best from both the previous console versions (PS3 & XBox 360) plus the PC to create a truly impressive PlayStation 4 title. The game is actually flawless on this console and even though I’ve finished this title on the XBox 360, it’s almost like playing a new game again and is just as engaging and entertaining as it was the first time around.
From the very moment the game loads, you immediately know that you are in for a treat, especially from its vastly improved visuals. Having seen and also played the game on the PC, the highlight of this version was the TRESS FX technology. This technology basically gives Lara realistic hair movement that interacts with how the player controls her. Lara also looks slightly older and her eyes almost have a glint of soul in them due to how realistic they look. All the characters in the game boast increased polygon body resolution and there are some great subtleties such as the moving pick-axe or radio that are attached to Lara’s clothes. Lara also has six new outfits. Add in additional sub-surface scattering on the skin and when the blood, dust or rain touch Lara, the realism is unparalleled.
While we’re on graphics, the revamped Tomb Raider contains an insane amount of additional detail, especially with the particle effects. Snow, dust, debris, mist and rain is considerably more dense. The fire effects are more detailed and realistic as are the water effects, whether wading through a pool of water or seeing the waves crash upon the rocks of this mysterious island and according to the developers, not two waves are the same. Even the wind effects play a huge part of the gaming environment which moves the foliage in the island and the particles in the air. Speaking of foliage, the developers have basically doubled the amount that was seem on the PC version. At times, you just need to stop and appreciate the graphics such as the glorious sunsets or vicious storms that hound this island… or the just the rain and blood smeared on the camera, it’s definitely a wow moment.
While creating the Definitive Edition of Tomb Raider, United Front Games were given an edict not to add anything additional to the game in terms of story or gameplay that I can actually concur with. The gameplay and story is brilliant and changes may have taken away the emotional investment that gamers make while playing Tomb Raider. For the uninitiated, Tomb Raider is a reboot of the franchise and stars a younger Lara Croft (Camilla Luddington) who is just out of University and is beginning her career as an archaeologist. Although this is a game, it is like watching some huge Hollywood blockbuster movie that starts with a bang. This current story is also the mould that shapes our heroine for the future and turns her from frightened young woman to hardened adventurer. It should also be noted that this game contains some mature content and is definitely not for children. Expect to see Lara die in some very painful and extreme ways… seeing Lara die again, especially with the revamped graphics is still quite sickening to watch due to the realism of the character portrayed in the game.
The story of Tomb Raider begins with an amazing CGI cinematic that has Lara fighting for her life as the Endurance, the ship that she is travelling on crashes during a violent storm in the Dragon’s Triangle. As Lara is trapped on one of the decks and on the verge of drowning, she is rescued by a colleague where she eventually awakes on a beach. As Lara is separated from her colleagues, she is violently abducted by a stranger as she finds herself in another dire predicament. Bound and hanging upside down, the game eventually gives control of Lara to the player as the first level serves as a tutorial which requires you to guide her to safety. Although Tomb Raider was the game that started the action/adventure genre, the current incarnation does have some parallels with Sony’s Uncharted Series with not just the gameplay but also the characters. The game also feels like an Indiana Jones movie! Apart from exploring the island, attacking enemies and solving puzzles, Tomb Raider contains some great quick-time events which really enhance the excitement of the title. And just like Uncharted, the characters that Lara encounters are all realistically written with some great voice acting to match. However where the game differs from Uncharted is the experience system and the ability to hunt and craft your own items to further Lara through the game.
Item/weapon upgrades play a large role in the game as does the experience system which allows Lara to unlock new skills and assists in crafting her destiny. For example in Hunter Upgrades, Lara can upgrade her ammo capacity or become a bow expert. Whereas in Survivor Upgrades, Lara has the ability to increase her animal instinct or cartographer skills. This mix and match formula does allow the player to start the game again and try another path. Upgrading Lara’s skills can only be done at a base camp and the I must admit that the auto-save feature of the game is perfect. So why is Lara on this “uncharted” island? Lara is joined by Dr. Whitman and team in order to find the Japanese myth of Queen Himoko but fate has other ideas for our heroine which creates a true interactive story. Apart from the main quest in Tomb Raider, there are plenty of side quests and challenges to be discovered along the way in this open-world game, not to mention relics to find.
The gameplay of Tomb Raider was pretty much perfect on the PC, PS3 and XBox 360 but it has been tweaked on the PlayStation 4 and for the better. The biggest change to the control system is the inclusion of the touch screen (map/status) on the DualShock 4 Controller and voice commands. Voice commands are great for accessing weapons, maps, gear, documents and quickly changing between ammunition such as fire or explosive arrows. The controller also flashes red when Lara is injured and when you’re reading journals in the game or when Lara is using her radio, the voice also comes out of the controller which is pretty darn cool. The only drawback to this is I wished they disabled the sound from the TV as it gets played twice which is a little disconcerting. The game also be played via your PS Vita with the controls perfectly mapped on this portable console.
With that said, the gameplay of Tomb Raider Definitive Edition is pretty much perfect on the PS4. Given the previous games in the series, Tomb Raider feels more Uncharted than Tomb Raider which is great on so many levels. Whether your precariously climbing up a cliff face, jumping from ledge to ledge or performing some other dangerous platforming manoeuvre, it just feels right with the Dual Shock 4 controller. Crystal Dynamics also ensure that you’re not thrown into the deep end straight away as the gamer can easily learn the controls without being inundated. Given that, there are three difficulty levels and the highest difficulty level is rather challenging to say the least. Another interesting feature is the “instinct” mode which basically highlights items, objects or directions in the game which assist in pointing you in the right direction. This mode is similar to the detective mode in Arkham City or Raiden’s vision in Metal Gear Rising Revengeance. It is definitely a needed feature.
The life-like island of Tomb Raider that you explore is quite large and if you explore every nook and cranny, you could easily complete this game in around 15 – 18 hours. Of course, a Tomb Raider game would not be a Tomb Raider game without the ancient temples and there are plenty of places to explore as you encounter enemies, puzzles and deadly traps. On the Definitive Edition, there is a new side quest and tomb to explore. Having played the game before, playing it again on the PS4 allowed me to explore the tombs I missed the first time around. Also, as you search for your companions on this dangerous island, Lara soon discovers that this uninhabited island is actually the home to a group of cutthroat mercenaries. This is where the combat kicks in. The first taste of combat are with wolves which is a nod to the original game. Needless to say, using the bow on these fast moving creatures is a little tricky. However when you get the gun, things do start looking up for Lara. In relation to the mercenaries and the controversy about a certain scene in the game, this is a true defining moment of Lara’s future and is a very emotional and powerful scene. Wow!
As mentioned, the first weapon that Lara masters in the game is the bow which allows you to carefully aim your arrows at both animals and humans. It was actually quite a disturbing scene (another) when Lara first uses her bow on an animal as I missed the head and got its body instead. From there it made this disturbing grunting sound until I finally managed to kill it. Ouch! It’s moments like this in Tomb Raider that make this game more than just a game as both the player and Lara must either condone or accept the decisions they make. Even the second time and without spoiling the story, Tomb Raider is easily the best console experience I’ve had the joy of playing and I strongly suggest you check it out.
Tomb Raider actually features an a fun multiplayer mode that split gamers into two teams, survivors and scavengers. These game modes include elements such as Team Deathmatch and Survivor with around five maps that these matches can be played on. What I loved about the multiplayer aspect of Tomb Raider was the ability to set traps and then watching your foes set them off. There’s some great loadouts available and characters to unlock as an incentive to play. Using the bow in multiplayer is another highlight but once again, you cannot beat the shotgun for those close calls. Although not as strong as the single-player mode, the multiplayer mode definitely adds another fun element to the world of Tomb Raider.
Camilla Luddington, below (True Blood, Californication) plays Lara Croft and she really adds this innocence and emotion to her voice. Needless to say, the voice acting of Tomb Raider is extremely professional and when matched with the majestic soundtrack from composer Jason Graves plus the background ambience, it creates this surreal experience on the PS4. The game also makes great use of the 5.1 surround sound and when you first shoot your gun, it’s almost like being in the same room.
Tomb Raider Definitive Edition really showcases the capabilities of the PlayStation 4 console and even though in essence it’s the same game as the PC, PS3 and XBox 360, the amazing high definitive graphics and tweaked controls really makes this title its own game. Personally, I think this is one of the best games on the console at the moment and the developers should be commended for not only taking the series to a new level but successfully rebooting the franchise for the 21st century and still paying homage to what came before it. Tomb Raider Definitive Edition is a must have game on the PS4, especially to those gamers who have not yet experienced the emotional rollercoaster ride of Lara Croft and so far is the best game on the PS4 at the moment.
• Lara Croft presented in unprecedented high definition detail › An all new Lara model created to take advantage of the power of next-gen consoles › TRESS FX technology that delivers realistic hair simulation and motion with every strand being physically active › Shader and lighting reworked to showcase the raw physicality of Lara’s journey through sweat, mud, and blood materials and effects
• A physical world put in motion thanks to brand new hardware architecture › The world has been dynamically brought to life using complex physical world simulation on trees, foliage, cloth, weather, lighting and effects › All texture resolutions have been created at 4x resolution for maximum resolution and detail › In-game characters, enemies and destructability have been enhanced for added depth and realism › Subsurface scattering technology implemented to capture the most physically accurate lighting simulation and deliver a great sense of believability › Native 1080p gameplay gives outstanding visual fidelity and showcases the beauty of Yamatai in all its high definition glory