This was the first Tomb Raider game I ever played. Yes, there are some gaps in my video game experience. What I know of the mega-popular 1990s games consists mostly of the famous marketing appeal built around sex appeal and the bad-but-there-are-worse-video-game-movies (for what that’s worth) that were to follow. So I really don’t know what the preceding games were like or whether this particular game is true the spirit of the series.
But perhaps I should learn, for Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition Is definitely one of the best games I’ve played in awhile. There is nothing that isn’t done just right.
Plot: 8 out of 10
Lara Croft is a British Archaeologist following in her father’s footsteps to unearth an ancient mystery. Naturally, things get supernatural in true Indiana Jones fashion, causing her archaeological team to have to deal with mystical beings who follow the ghost of a queen named Himiko. Sadly, a number of members of this expedition do not survive.
What really helps the plot is Lara’s evolution from innocent novice suddenly put in a dangerous situation to a hardened, practical adventurer ready to do what it takes to get her group to safety. And it’s not an instant thing, either. We have a gradual change that makes sense. If this game is any indication, the shallow commercials of yesteryear didn’t do the character justice.
Graphics: 9 out of 10
This was originally a PS3/Xbox 360 game. I played the PS4 version. It and the Xbox One (don’t ask me how that name for Microsoft’s third console makes since) versions are graphically upgraded, a good concept that had been seemingly dead since Super Mario All-Stars but may now be catching on. I complained in my review of Call of Duty: Ghosts that it didn’t look next gen. This game is another story. The graphics are a nice step up from the last gen counterpart to show some almost photo-realistic models, landscapes, and even rain.
Sound: 9 out of 10
Voice acting is rock-solid. As good as it gets in video games. The environmental sounds are very realistic. The music has a quite spooky tune. All said, this game sounds great.
Gameplay: 8 out of 10
Stealth, tactical shooting, platforming, and close-quarter combat all play strong roles in the gameplay of this version of Tomb Raider. and they are incorporated extremely well. Those who have played the Gears of War series and use of dive-and-roll maneuvers to reach cover will be at home here. Because Lara didn’t come prepared for a fight, she is often starved for ammo and often has to make do with a bow and automatic pistol. Luckily, she moves quickly, nimbly and can use stealth kills if she sneaks up on an enemy. All this is very fitting in a game that is as much about pure survival as “good vs. evil.”
One flaw is that that this is one of those games that does the annoying push-this-button-or-you’re-dead bit in some cutscenes that everyone seems to dislike. It’s a wonder anyone still uses it. Still, this isn’t anything super-serious and besides, you get checkpoints before this parts.
Challenge: 10 out of 10
The difficulty of the battles escalates at just the right pace. There are puzzles that present a strong challenge in getting past, along with fun boss battles that do the same. And you can be kept occupied even after completing the game by hidden stuff to find. I guess this fills the void left by the death of scores (with notable exceptions).
Overall: 9 out of 10
The first bona fide classic I have played on my PS4, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is a very cool adventure from start to finish. Definitive Edition definitely gets high marks from me!