Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition PS4 review – Don’t play it again – facelift improves very little

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition PS4 review

Let’s get one thing straight; if you own a PS4 and haven’t played it yet, then get Tomb Raider Definitive Edition. We awarded the PS3 original an 8 and stand by that – Tomb Raider is a supremely polished matinee adventure filled with action, drama and spectacular visuals. That the latter is the only noticeable improvement in this PlayStation 4 re-release is the main reason we’ve pulled the score down; there’s simply not enough extra content on offer to warrant buying the game all over again.

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Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition PS4 review

It could have been far worse. Square Enix’s definition of ‘Definitive’ does at least stretch to bundling in all the existing DLC, although it’s the kind of content you’ll quickly file away under ‘gee-bloody-whizz’ – some concept art, a digital comic book, a bunch of insipid extra costumes for Lara – with the only playable addition being a new optional tomb for Lara to raid. If you’ve played the game you’ll be familiar with these miniature fillets of old school Raider exploration sprinkled throughout the map and know they’re more to break up the pacing than to offer any intellectual challenge.

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So how good does Lara look on PS4 then? She’s got a completely remodelled face for starters, and while you can now see 1080p sweat oozing from her forehead there’s an oddly stiff quality to Lara’s next-gen visage that’s particularly jarring in cut scenes. Her eyes pop between emotions like a jerky wooden puppet, her lips wrestling around her dialogue like she’s chewing on super-glue – I’m sure the animation was actually better on PS3. It’s like a bad injection of PS4 botox, a sharpened texture mask over Lara’s softer last-gen face.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition PS4 review

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition on PS4 ups the visuals but adds little if you’ve already played it.

On the subject of cut scenes there’s also the odd dip in framerate, as though the game is struggling to project old animations through PS4’s improved graphical casing. Thankfully the gameplay itself is now a lot smoother, running at a beautiful, solid 60fps. Hectic action sequences that were once a mass of crackling gunfire and dizzy particle effects now run with a silky, filmic sheen – something that really adds to the immediacy of combat.

Then there’s the lighting. Oh, the lighting. It’s simply beautiful – from impactful lens-flare bloom and sunlight filtering through foliage, to the way weather effects like rain and fog are illuminated by searchlights. Yes it’s mainly window dressing, but it does ramp up the atmosphere, especially during storms or when you’re prowling through the shadows, avoiding enemy torches.

But then Tomb Raider was always a pretty
game and the difference on PS4 – while
notable – simply doesn’t justify the asking
price if you already own the game on PS3.

 

Perhaps with that in mind, Crystal Dynamics has shoved a bunch of PS4-exclusive control features into the mix that – while well intentioned – feel more like an embarrassed apology than anything particularly substantial. Case in point – the menu toggle sound effects now come out of the DualShock 4 speakers. Why? Well, because.