Saturday, 4 April 2015

Review: Tomb Raider, Definitive Edition (PS4)

I recently acquired a PS4, and the first game I got for it was Tomb Raider. This was originally out for the previous console generation but (as seems the fashion nowadays) it was remastered for the PS4.


Lara, her mentor Roth, a few friends and a TV dick called Whitman are sailing to find Yamatai for archaeological/television purposes. Lara suggests going into Not The Bermuda Triangle, which naturally causes the ship to sink in a massive storm and the crew to wash up on a dreaded island.

After spending her first evening on the island suffering bondage and puncture wounds, Lara sets out to find her crew and a way off the island. Unfortunately, the island is inhabited by an assortment of murderous lunatics.

The premise is nice and simple. Characters and their relationship with Lara are revealed naturally as the game progresses. The way the story goes won’t be a shock, particularly to gamers familiar with this sort of thing, but it’s perfectly sound.

There’s a mid-point which is so involved, lengthy and thrilling I thought it might actually be the climax of the game, and was a bit surprised it wasn’t (feels almost like the end of the first half of a play, which plenty of excitement prior to the interval).

Upon completion, you can return to the island to collect things.


The controls are very intuitive, and the initial section teaches you the basics without the dreaded tedium of a typical tutorial. Most players will have the gist from older Tomb Raider (or Uncharted) games, but for those new to this genre it’s a good introduction.

I played the game on Normal. Discounting occasions when I tried making impossible jumps, I got killed perhaps half a dozen times during the playthrough. Here and there you’ll be forced into a proper gunfight, in many areas you’ll have the option of taking a stealth approach (which I usually went for). Combat in this genre isn’t my favourite aspect, but I thought it worked pretty well.

Tombs are smaller areas you stumble across (there aren’t a huge number) within which you find treasures/upgrades. The puzzles, such as they are, tend to be pretty straightforward. If you’re stuck for a little while you’ll have the option to press L1, and Lara will offer a hint.

On the downside, there’s too much in the way of QTEs (quick-time events, the work of Satan) early on, and occasionally later in the game. Apart from the first hour, there’s not really a glut of them, but I’m not a fan of that approach.


The graphics generally look very nice, as the screenshots I’ve included in this review show. Sometimes water effects look outdated compared to the rest. Likewise, flames can sometimes look a little bit dated.

The sea itself looks very nice, though, and there are some great vistas in a reasonable variety of settings.

A nice touch is that Lara’s default outfit undergoes the John McClane process, getting dirtier and slightly torn as the game progresses. Unfortunately, this doesn’t occur with the six extra outfits. She also gets some small scars, which makes sense given she spends several hours getting battered [but these magically disappears if she changes outfit].


I’ve bought a few Tomb Raider games, and really liked Keeley Hawes’ past performances. The reboot, unsurprisingly, went for a new actress, Camilla Luddington [who also, as is becoming commonplace, did the motion capture for the character].

A good choice, I think. She does sound pretty young, which fits, as this is basically an origin story for how Lara Croft became female Indiana Jones.

The rest of the cast do a solid job, and I like the dynamic of slightly bickering shipmates.

Sound effects are nice, from zip-lining to forcing open metal crates with a pick. By default, you also get sound via the mini-speaker in the controller. As I usually play with earphones in, I disabled this.

The music fits the game well, and is enjoyable without being overpowering.

Bugs and other issues

In my entire playthrough I encountered one bug. Lara froze at the end of an animation, and was stuck in an ice-skater type pose. She kept on gliding forward too, which was weird. I got out of it by changing my weapon. No freezes, lags, excessive screen-tearing, prolonged loading times or any other issue occurred, so that was pretty good.


I enjoyed it a lot. The game’s been out a while, which means you should be able to get it for a low price and I probably spent 20-30 hours on the main storyline (I did some exploration on the side, but not much).


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