Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition Preview

2013’s Tomb Raider remake was a bold new title in the famous series focusing on the origins of gaming’s most iconic characters, Lara Croft. This prequel was a fresh and invigorating title that focused on the evolution of Lara as a character rather than continuing the story. Not only was the game quite good it also got some nods from some of the team here at CD for game of the year. On the back of this Square-Enix has decided to release a next gen version that makes the game more graphically impressive without any changes to the solid gameplay the title enjoyed. With a few days until release the both Phillip and I were invited to get some hands on time and to get guided through some of the additions to the engine in preparation for the launch.

Before we started up on the gameplay side of the presentation we were shown some of the bonus additions that are included in this next gen version. For the art lovers there is a digital copy of the art book on the disc with the physical copy available to those who pre-order. Also included is the complete collection of the prequel comic series by Dark Horse Comics and a number of developer commentaries. All this on top of the complete DLC offerings give Tomb Raider fans a really good reason to give this a look.

Our preview spanned across multiple levels of the title as to show off the various new additions to the tech behind the definitive edition and some of the advantages of doing this for next gen. we started off visiting an early scene where Lara first locates her bow, a serious tool in her arsenal and the dense forest that is the backdrop to her learning to use it. The first thing that was pointed out is the new look that Lara possesses, namely a restructured face that is more appropriate for the next gen version, while it doesn’t go as far as to completely change the look it makes the game feel fresh. This coupled with the new Tress FX system that makes every strand of hair move independently makes this upgrade standout even more.

After we had finished ogling over Lara like a bunch of schoolboys we moved on into the forest to see how the game displays this new-found power and the results were impressive to say the least. The first point of emphasis was the dynamic foliage, which also extends to fabrics, weather and lighting in the later stages we played.  Instead of each individual plant or cloth requiring someone to code it individually the upgraded game engine allows for a streamlined method for doing so while making the environment come alive.

The other impressive point of emphasis was the use of subsurface scattering on Lara’s body to create a much more realistic glow to the skin depending on the lighting that is present. The level we were shown to demonstrate this was an escape scene from a burning monetary about mid-way through the game. Lara’s skin was glowing in relation to the fires around her making for a very pretty scene before we took off towards our objective. Comparatively an earlier level located in a dark storm, Lara almost blended in with her surroundings as her skin didn’t reflect anything due to the lack of lighting spare for the odd lightning strike.

For those who have already completed Tomb Raider on the 360 or PS3 there is still enough to offer here to warrant a new purchase but for those who are yet to experience Lara’s journey this is clearly the edition to own. The game looked pretty back when it first launched early last year but this edition takes things to the next level, with advancements in almost every graphical area the game looks new and stunning yet still plays like the game we came to love last year.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is out on the 31st of January on Xbox One and PS4 Look for our Review soon.


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