When I first played the latest Tomb Raider game on the Xbox 360, I was lucky enough to be a subscriber to the LoveFilm game rental service. Them were the days when you could pay a £6 monthly subscription and rent up to two discs at any one time. They don’t do that anymore, since Amazon came in and shat all over our parade. But that’s off topic. What I’m trying to get at is, when I first played and completed Tomb Raider all those months ago, it cost me a grand total of £3. So when I saw that the Definitive Edition was being released on the current-gen, I quickly snapped it up. This was because, as with any rental service, I had to return the game once I was done with it, so I never really owned one of my favorite games of last year. I guess I saw the £44.99 price tag as a worthwhile investment. That coupled with the fact that I had a £25 Xbox Live gift voucher lying around from my birthday a week before and I was high on the ecstasy found in receiving my pay slip for the month. So, the scene was set to finally purchase a game that I loved playing, but had never owned.
I shan’t bore you with a review of the game, we’ve already done that once before … reviewed the game, that is. Not bored you, I should hope. For those who don’t want to read the review but would like to know what the game is like, I’ll sum it up in one word for you – incredible. So now that that’s out of the way, I’ll tell you what the difference is now that the game has been developed for the current-gen consoles and has had a hefty £10 slapped on top of its price-tag. To sum that up I’ll need three words – pretty much nothing. The game, from what I can tell, is pretty much the exact same. The same story, the same scenery, the same tombs, the same enemies, the same animals. The only thing that’s different is Lara and the overall graphics. Square Enix seem to have given her some sort of face-lift. She seems much ‘cuter’ than she did on the Xbox 360. Below are comparison pictures, for your amusement.
The old-gen Lara is on the left and the current-gen Lara is on the right (though I’d like to think that it wasn’t necessary for me to point that out). As you can see, Lara’s nose has been smoothed out, her eyebrows have been thinned and darkened and her lips seem a bit … fuller? Her jawline also seems a little more defined. I think that people call this the ‘pixie treatment’, which is apparently more appealing to men. Who knew? But you can also see a real difference in the textures. The dirt on her face or the reflection of the water on her cheek are far more noticeable, and realistic, on the current-gen. Her hair is also much crisper and when playing you can really notice each individual strand. Hair is something that game devs have always had trouble perfecting, and they’ve done a fantastic job with Lara this time round. In all, this is a new and improved Lara. But it’s not just Lara that has had a face-lift. The scenery is much prettier too. The lighting has greatly improved and there seems to be more of an atmosphere to this title than there was previously. You can really tell the difference when you’re outside and the lightning flashes across the sky, illuminating the forrest around you. Or when you’re crawling through a dark cave and stumble upon a torch or fire-pit that briefly lights your path. This is where you really spot the difference, where you see your extra £10 in action. Thankfully, these moments are plentiful, so in a way you are getting your tenners worth.
But does all of this warrant spending nearly £45 on a game that you may already own? The easy answer is no, not really. Though there are a few criteria that would change my answer. For example, do you want to play Tomb Raider again but have sold / lost / broken your original disk? If yes, then the Definitive Edition is for you. Have you ever played the original on the Xbox 360 or PS3? If the answer is no, go get yourself the Definitive Edition. Do you have a spare £45 laying around, or a gift card you’re yet to spend? If the answer is yes, give it to me. Or buy the Definitive Edition, whichever you’d prefer. Do you love the original Tomb Raider series for its safe family-fun vibe, its clean gameplay and the overall ‘can do’ attitude in the face of very little adversity? If the answer is yes, you’d probably be better off avoiding this one. This Tomb Raider game is almost alien to its predecessors. It’s dark, it’s gritty, it’s emotionally charged and quite intense in most places. This isn’t the happy go lucky Lara of old – the female Indiana Jones. This is Rambo Lara. So, if you’re into dark levels, creepy caves, gory gore and aren’t afraid of seeing your protagonist with a bit of dirt under their fingernails (and a lot of blood on their hands / face / torso / pretty much everywhere), then you’ll struggle to find a game that does it better than Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, or a game that makes it look quite so stunning. In a way, this Tomb Raider is perfectly suited for the current-gen consoles, it’s just a shame that Square Enix have offered very little in the way of extras for splashing out again on a game that many already own.