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Square Enix
Crystal Dynamics
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Release Date:
January 28, 2014

Tomb Raider was one of 2013's most entertaining, accomplished titles. And while the new Definitive Edition has generated plenty of controversy, there's no doubt that Crystal Dynamics' gripping adventure is just as great as ever. The additional improvements and enhancements bump the score up to the elite 9+ category, as far as I'm concerned. I still say there are missed opportunities with the narrative, there's too much focus on grossly exaggerated segments, and the multiplayer isn't anything special (though quite functional).

Still, this is most certainly a worthy adventure. Even if you already embarked upon the rewarding quest last year, you might have to spring for the upgraded version.

As you would expect, playing Tomb Raider on the PlayStation 4 is quite the experience. Sure, the gameplay feels the same, and one could argue that because the game wasn't specifically designed for next-gen consoles, it's not as impressive as it could've been. However, don't dismiss the graphical achievements: Better textures, lighting, animations and special effects make the game all the more dynamic and mesmerizing. From slippery, intimidating cliffs to surprisingly beautiful tropical sunsets, the atmosphere instills a sense of awe and wonder in the player. Yes, Lara's hair is more realistic. But let's not get caught up in trivialities, 'cuz the game looks fantastic .

Some technical guru is going to have to explain this to me, but for some reason, I've been disappointed with the sound presentation in next-gen productions thus far. The acting is good and the resounding effects still make you grin, but the balancing seems off. I don't recall these minor balancing issues in last year's effort, do you? I don't know what it is about the new hardware that's making the audio lose its stability, but I sense it in nearly every PS4 game I've played thus far. That all being said, the sound quality remains very high throughout, and it really shines during the most energetic sequences. Those with awesome sound systems will appreciate it all the more.

If you didn't play the game in 2013, here's a refresher- Lara Croft is a young adventurer and scientist who sets off on a dangerous exposition. The exposition becomes a moot point, however, as the team becomes stranded on a mysterious island. This is where things start to spiral out of control for the fresh-faced "tomb raider;" she has to learn how to survive on her own in a hostile environment, which means honing her newly discovered skills. Something strange is happening on the island, too, and Lara is faced with obstacle after obstacle. Perhaps most intriguing is the otherworldly element; it seems that bad weather blows up any time someone tries to escape the island.

As I said above, this narrative was loaded with potential. For the most part, I think the developers do a decent job presenting Lara Croft as a scared, vulnerable young woman who, despite being physically fit, isn't unrealistically proportioned. It's a great overhaul of a video game icon and I appreciate the effort. Still, given the harsh psychology of the situation, there's a lot more Crystal Dynamics could've done with her mindset and overall capability. She obviously has some natural talent with weapons and acrobatics but it's ridiculous how fast she learns it all. The transformation from civilian to warrior just isn't examined in enough detail.

Of course, that takes a back seat to the following redeeming fact: The adventure is just plain fun . Wonderfully balanced, very diverse, and captivating from start to finish, you'll explore dark, dense forests, freaky caves, and even villages. There are tombs to locate and raid (wouldn't be Tomb Raider without 'em), collectibles to gather, and plenty of foes to vanquish. The third-person combat is solid, stable and gratifying. Whether Lara is using her trusty climbing ax to deal a killing blow, or she's zooming in from afar to take out unsuspecting guards, everything is smooth and responsive. The climbing mechanics are especially outstanding.