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

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition PS4 review

Slightly more useful are the touchpad and voice controls, the former allowing you to scroll through inventories and examine relics like swiping through apps on a smartphone, while the latter flicks up the in-game map with a simple utterance of ‘show map’. From here you can browse Lara’s upgrades and collectibles by saying the respective term.

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While voice control is a novelty, you’ll quickly realise pressing buttons is easier, quicker, and more importantly doesn’t make you sound like you’ve got bling-themed Tourette’s. Plus the voice recognition is often disturbingly skittish; at one point my fiancée asked me “do you want a cup of tea?” which Tomb Raider somehow translated as “Pause.” Or maybe that was the game being brilliantly tactful.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition PS4 review

Letting you switch between weapons on the fly is a far more practical implementation of PS4’s voice tech, although still prone to laughable inaccuracy. Clumsily forgotten the controls for your bow during one of the game’s typically fraught gunfights? Just say ‘bow.’ Or ‘no, thanks.’ Or ‘I’m not walking the dog now, have you seen the weather?’ Either of these will do the job. It’s just all so unnecessary; Tomb Raider is already a brilliant game and if anything the added PS4 features clutter and confuse an otherwise slick control system.

Tomb Raider is already a brilliant game and if anything the added PS4 features clutter and confuse an otherwise slick control system

But lets get back to what’s most important – Lara Croft’s journey from shivering greenhorn archaeologist to skull-cracking adventurer supreme. It’s a linear one, yes, but also streamlined, explosive and executed with skill and confidence by a studio at the top of its game. Excellent narrative pacing and a continuous expansion of Lara’s skillset offers a satisfying sense of progress – and then there are the set pieces, some of which rival even Uncharted for pomp and audacity.

tomb raider definitive edition PS4 review

Tomb Raider Definitive Edition sees Lara beautifully reinvented on PS4, even if the original game isn’t expanded on.

Combat is punchy, varied and tactical, allowing you to chew opponents to shreds with machine guns or yank them off platforms with Lara’s rope arrows, while the platforming is full of daring leaps, yawning drops and impossible escapes. It’s searing stuff, made all the more riveting by an accomplished script and a stellar turn from Camilla Luddington as the voice of Lara. All the more sad then, that the queen of PlayStation’s first appearance on PS4 is as a brightly textured cash cow.

It looks a bit sexier of course, but the Definitive Edition trips up during that mad dash to justify its own existence, which I’ll sum up with a single in-game exploit: I’d just leapt to safety after a breathless chase involving an aeroplane plunging into the side of a mountain. The score leapt, the plane smashed, and Lara hurled herself away at the last possible moment. It looked and felt amazing. “This is awesome,” I said into the mono headset. And the game paused itself. Prettier and choked with superfluous PS4 control additions, yet still the same brilliant game underneath. Never played it? Buy this. Want to re-play it? Stick to the PS3 version.

Our Score

Score: 7