NOTE: This review will primarily talk about the differences in the Definitive Edition rather than the gameplay and story. You can find our original review of the PS3 version HERE
Work on the Definitive Edition of Tomb Raider commenced straight after the original game went gold at the start of 2013. Nixxes Software primarily worked on the PS4 version whilst United Front Games worked on the Xbox One version. The game is a reboot of the Tomb Raider series and tells the story of how Lara’s transition from a young woman to a gritty survivor.
As soon as I laid eyes on the game running on PS4 I could instantly notice improvements. I’m not usually someone who notices the finer details in graphics but I could definitely notice and appreciate the minor details. Tomb Raider was my favourite game of 2013 so all of these things made the game that much more immersive.
The environments in this edition are obviously much more dynamic. At the start of the game when running through trees and shrubs, I noticed that they would bounce around as I ran through them. Lara’s tent and random pieces of cloth would rustle in the wind which made me feel like I was actually running through a windy forest.
The vast weather conditions in Tomb Raider are much more immersive in the Definitive Edition. When it’s snowing your view is blocked by beautiful pieces of falling snow. When you’re in a burning house, little pieces of ember fly around the screen. Whilst these things are tiny, they all add up to make the experience that much more immersive.
Lara looks much more dynamic. Her necklace, pickaxe and hair would bounce around depending on the weather conditions. When you put your controller down, Lara reacts depending on the environment. If she’s in the ice she will shiver to warm herself up. This made me associate myself much more with Lara as a vulnerable character.
The frame rate on the PS4 version is one of the biggest improvements as it runs at 60FPS for majority of the game. It can dip to 50-55 for some of the more busier sections of the game, but it runs at a solid 60 for an acceptable chunk of the game. Whilst I didn’t play the Xbox One version, it has now been confirmed that the game runs at around 30FPS. This is most likely due to the fact that the Definitive Edition had two completely different developers. I’d definitely be taking this into consideration when you choose which version to buy.
The Definitive Edition not only looks great, but it has a lot of welcomed changes to the gameplay. Playing the game with the PS4 controller feels a lot better. Taking down enemy after enemy with the bow feels incredibly satisfying thanks to the much improved triggers and analog sticks of the Dual Shock 4.
The touchpad is used to zoom in and out of the map and scroll around the map. This provides a much more intuitive way of looking at the map and it really feels great. You also use the touchpad to check out relics in a much more realistic way. This is a much more gimmicky use but it’s still cool that the developers took the time to use the touchpad.
Voice commands with the Kinect, Playstation Camera or by using headphones with the Dualshock 4 works fantastically. You’re able to quickly pause, bring up your map or even change weapons. At first I thought that I would never use it but this simply wasn’t the case. Being able to quickly change to your Bow by shouting out the word Bow was easier than having to think about which button to press. Similarly, being able to change ammo type by voice is a much easier experience.
The light bar on the Dual Shock 4 is utilised more in Tomb Raider than any other game yet. When you pick up your torch, the bar will flash yellow, orange and red. When you shoot weapons, your light bar will flash with every shot and when you die, your controller will glow red. Still quite gimmicky, but cool nonetheless.
The last feature that the developers have utilised is the speaker on the Dual Shock 4. It’s used to output gunshots, journal entries and a ton of other stuff. Using the speaker in-conjuction with the light bar really adds to the immersion when taking down enemies.
When it’s time to play the game using Remote Play on your Vita, you will be blown away with just how good it feels. The developers have really taken the time to make sure that the control scheme really fits the handheld device. Rather than using the uncomfortable back touchpad, the developers have opted to use different parts of the touch screen to replicate the Dual Shock 4. I was also shocked to see that you could actually use the touch screen to scroll around the map, as you can with the touch pad on the Dual Shock 4.
The Definitive Edition includes all the previous DLC that was released on PS3 and 360 last year. This includes all of the Multiplayer maps and also the additional costumes that were released. There is one small nit pick from this release. I feel that the developers could’ve tried to ensure that people who bought the original game had a reason to come back. Sure people who loved the game as much as me are going to double dip, but I feel like they could’ve added in some new tombs or even a horde mode of types to get more people to double dip.