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Tomb Raider Definitive Edition review

We see how Lara looks after her next generation makeover
Tue Jan 28 2014, 13:18

GAMES FANBOY DREAM GIRL Lara Croft blasted back into the limelight in 2013, when Square Enix released its rebooted Tomb Raider game. It's no secret that we loved the original game, with our bartender awarding it nine out of 10 beers in our review, a feat achieved by precious few games.

One year on, Square Enix has chosen to treat fans to a rebuilt, next-generation version of its 2013 hit titled Tomb Raider Definitive Edition.

We want to make it clear to all hardcore fans out there that this is not a sequel to the 2013 Tomb Raider. The new Tomb Raider Definitive Edition is a refinement. It tells the exact same story as the original 2013 version and the only new bits about the gameplay are that it comes bundled with all of the Xbox 360 and PS3 downloadable content (DLC) and features a few gameplay tweaks like the addition of voice command options that actually work.

Tomb Raider Definitive Edition tunnel

The only real change - and when you see it you'll know that it's a big one - is to the game's graphics, with Square Enix having rebuilt the game from the ground up to take advantage of the Xbox One and PS4 games consoles' upgraded hardware.

This isn't a bad thing in terms of story and pure gameplay. Despite being a year old, Tomb Raider remains wonderfully fun to play.

The game opens to introduce a younger version of Lara Croft, one that is fresh out of university and on her first real adventure - think young Indiana Jones compared to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Off at sea to discover the location and fate of a mysterious Japanese empire, Tomb Raider sees disaster strike the young Lara, with a storm marooning her and her crew on a remote island filled with tribal psychopaths and man-eating animals.

The setting heavily informs the gameplay and radically changes Tomb Raider's traditional platforming focus, adding survival horror and stealth shooter elements.

In general the game will task you to get to a specific location on the island. The location you need to get to is shown using Lara's "Instincts". Instincts is a special mode that can be activated on the Xbox One by tapping the LT button. When pressed it highlights areas of interest.

Getting to the location is always made difficult in a variety of ways. In some cases it can be simple Prince of Persia style platforming, requiring you to jump, crawl and shimmy your way through various bits of architecture or rock formations to get to your required location. In others it can require you to solve a basic puzzle, sneak past foes or blast your way through hostile forces.

Tomb Raider Definitive Edition swing

Platforming in Tomb Raider is refreshingly different. Unlike most platforming games, Square Enix has chosen not to create a rehashed version of Assassin's Creed's (AC) free-running system and has instead gone its own way. Platforming in Tomb Raider is a far more hands-on affair than AC titles. It requires you to click a specific button for each action. Jumping onto a ridge you have to run at it and then click the A button to jump. Before landing you are in turn required to hit the X button to grab the ledge, or pull out your mountain axe and embed it into the rock wall.

While some people will bemoan the fact they can't mount complex free-running acrobatic feats simply by holding down the A button, we loved the more manual control system. The added complexity helps solidify the tone of the game. Tomb Raider isn't meant to be telling the story of a superhero capable of scaling walls without breaking a sweat.

The entire game is designed to show what Lara was like before she became that woman. It shows her during a dark period of her life, one where she's struggling to survive and avoid the savage local inhabitants that are hunting her. One where she sweats, bleeds and cries when she's hurt. The manual control system lends itself to this, making it so you feel that scaling a vertical cliff or tower is actually a challenge.

 

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