Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

Finally. The BEGINNING.

If you’ve been following Tomb Raider since it’s first arrival in 1996, you’ve witnessed Lara’s transformation from a pixelated buxom action-hero into an incredibly realistic and inspiringly capable young woman.

This is Lara Croft’s origin story. It is the traumatic event that shaped her into the intelligent ass-kicking problem-solving heroine we all have grown to know and love. A perfect mixture of storytelling, puzzle-solving, and seamlessly integrated combat, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is a pleasant departure from the general feel of previous Tomb Raider games in nearly every aspect of gameplay.

I began gameplay on the PS3 and then upon receiving a PS4 for my birthday (thank you, Dr. T and DielectricUnion) I emphatically upgraded to the Definitive Edition. To my surprise, the graphics actually were substantially better on the PS4 and I found myself even moreso entranced by the game. As an additional testament to how freaking good the graphics are, I tested it out on a couple non-gamer friends to see if their attention spans would hold out or give up under the pressure of actually having to do something to move the storyline forward. One delightful non-gamer friend, we’ll call her Mighty Mouse, who is the epitome of girly girl, went so far as to scream “Ewww!” as she attempted to navigate through the dirty cavern waters past the bloody hanging corpses in the first portion of the game. It freaked her out. GREAT sign.

Shipwrecked. Hunting, foraging. Surviving. Conquering the “impossible”. Hand-to-hand combat, to using/upgrading a multitude of weapons, and the game leads you through it all beautifully. It didn’t seem to “overteach” to the point of being aggravating for seasoned gamers, yet I witnessed total noobs getting into the flow of the game without being too overwhelmed. One of the game’s helpful features (for when you could either use a hint or are feeling particularly lazy) is the Survival Instincts option. It definitely aided in keeping the game moving, and instead of feeling frustrated at certain points, I avoided Gamer’s Rage and continuously enjoyed figuring out the next steps. Personally, I like to be challenged while still being able to enjoy the story (as opposed to wanting to chuck the damn wireless controller out the window every hour or so). So this worked out swimmingly for me.

I’ve heard a few minor complaints about how Lara’s in-game transition from “confused and afraid” to “I will f*cking kill this bastard” is too abrupt. But anyone who has ever been in a life-or-death situation knows that the “in-the-moment” choice is either to survive or die. You do what you must, and even though moral conflict will creep into your brain to remind you that you still have a conscience, if you spend too much time deciding on whether or not to take out an enemy who is trying to KILL you, it’s “game over”. And as we all know, Lara Croft goes on to solve many mysteries of the known and unknown world. To have her meandering on and on and on about whether or not she’s making the right choice in surviving would have been pointless, so in my opinion, they handled this part of the story adequately.

All-in-all, this is a great game. I don’t regret one second of playing it and I’ll likely play it through again. Why did I only give it a 9? Well, the multiplayer. I don’t personally GAF about the multiplayer, but it still exists and doesn’t remotely capture the magic of the single player. The campaign and the post-story exploration is fantastic enough that the multiplayer comes off as an extra pinky finger on an otherwise strong hand. Neat to look at, but pretty freakin’ useless.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is visually stunning, “can’t-put-the-controller-down” addictive, well-written, and dangerously fun. Thank you, Crystal Dynamics, for not screwing up Tomb Raider.

– Emily Rose Morrison