Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

Lara Croft makes a welcome return, and while this is a solid adventure it can sometimes feel like an opportunity has been missed.


Key events

Tomb Raider film review - a new kind of game-to-film failure

For decades, film adaptations of video game properties have sucked - but to be fair to their beleaguered makers, they have faced some intractable problems. Early video games had great name recognition and more than their fair share of iconic imagery, but their lead characters were vacant mascots and their action often defied rational explanation, never mind motivation or plot structure. Filmmakers had to either make this stuff up as they went along, like the disastrous 1993 Super Mario Bros. film - and face the scorn of video game fans who didn't see any of what they loved on screen - or abandon any ambition to flesh out their source material and make something resembling a normal film.

You could put 2001's silly Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in the latter category. Angelina Jolie nailed Lara's original look, but the character didn't amount to more than a depthless cartoon superwoman engaged in nonsensical acrobatic capers, because that's all she had ever been. Even latterday games like Assassin's Creed, which come preloaded with the kind of tangled lore that's catnip to movie producers shopping for a future franchise, struggle to present a human dimension that scriptwriters can find purchase on. Attempts to insert one fell unsurprisingly flat.

So you can see how 2013's Tomb Raider reboot looked unusually attractive to the film world. Here was a game that bore one of the most famous names in the business - one with a bit of history to it - and yet took an expressly cinematic approach to character development. It rebuilt Lara Croft from first principles as a human being, frail and flawed, discovering her true strength for the first time. It had superb art direction as well, creating a new visual language around the character that had grit, texture and plausibility as well as grandeur (although it did owe an awful lot to the Hunger Games and Tomb Raider's upstart cousin, Uncharted).

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New Tomb Raider film gets first trailer

New Tomb Raider film gets first trailer

Better than the poster.

The upcoming Tomb Raider movie which stars Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft has received its first trailer.

The film looks to be about Lara returning from some form of walkabout (possibly a gap year?) as she decides to inherit her father's legacy of hunting for treasure and/or saving the world. It's always nice when these things coincide, eh?

Like Crystal Dynamics' recent 2013 reboot, the film will strand Lara on an island for the bulk of its adventure, as opposed to some earlier games and films that saw her globe-trotting. If nothing else Vikander looks the part, which is more than we can say of the film's poster, which saw Lara sporting a bizarrely photoshopped elongated neck.

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FeatureWriting Lara Croft

How Rhianna Pratchett helped reboot Tomb Raider.

Back in 2010, after a stint working on the early version of Eidos Montreal's Thief reboot, Rhianna Pratchett set to work writing a very different Lara Croft. The brief from developer Crystal Dynamics was clear: this new Tomb Raider would be a reboot for the long-running series, a game that would drag Lara Croft kicking and screaming into the modern era. For Pratchett, that meant helping craft a personality for a younger Lara, an origin story in which the world's most famous video game action hero could find herself.

Next Tomb Raider movie sets 2018 release date

Next Tomb Raider movie sets 2018 release date

Catch a midnight screening on the Ides of March.

The Tomb Raider reboot movie will come out on 16th March 2018.

That's according to The Hollywood Reporter, that claimed Warner Bros. had initially reserved that date for a DC Comics film, possibly The Flash, but decided to offer the quiet Q1 timeslot to Tomb Raider instead.

The upcoming film will star star Alicia Vikander, who recently won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in The Danish Girl. She also starred opposite Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson in Ex Machina, where she played a pretty robot.

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Square Enix's new Humble Bundle includes Tomb Raider and Sleeping Dogs

UPDATE: New games added, now includes Kane & Lynch Collection.

UPDATE 26/02/2015 8.45pm: The Humble Square Enix Bundle 2 has added three new titles to its roster that are unlocked for paying above the average (currently $7.77 or about 5). These include: Kane & Lynch Collection, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, and Startopia.

Next-Gen Face-Off: Tomb Raider Definitive Edition

Earlier this week we kicked off our Tomb Raider coverage with a look at performance on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, uncovering some interesting revelations behind the hotly discussed frame-rate situation - but this is just the beginning of the story. There's so much more to cover: Square Enix promises a dramatic graphical upgrade over the previous console releases with this new Definitive Edition, factoring in brand new effects, a remodelled Lara Croft, lashings of extra detail, and physics-based enhancements that supposedly puts this next-gen version of the game ahead of the spectacular PC release. But just how much of an improvement is it, and are the differences worth splashing out for?

To begin with, let's address the differences between the two versions of the Definitive Edition on offer. PlayStation 4 users get a comfortably delivered 1080p presentation backed up with a post-process FXAA solution that has minimal impact on texture quality, sporting decent coverage across the scene, bar some shimmer around more finely detailed objects. Meanwhile the situation is more interesting on the Xbox One: the anti-aliasing solution remains unchanged, but we see the inclusion of what looks like a variable resolution framebuffer in some scenes, while some cut-scenes are rendered at a locked 900p, explaining the additional blur in some of our Xbox One screenshots. Curiously, the drop in resolution doesn't seem to occur during gameplay - it's only reserved for select cinematics - suggesting that keeping performance consistent during these sequences was a priority for Xbox One developer United Front Games.

For the most part the main graphical bells and whistles are lavished equally across both consoles, although intriguingly there are a few areas that do see Xbox One cutbacks. As demonstrated in our head-to-head video below (and in our vast Tomb Raider comparison gallery), alpha-based effects in certain areas give the appearance of rendering at half resolution - though other examples do look much cleaner. We also see a lower-quality depth of field in cut-scenes, and reduced levels of anisotropic filtering on artwork during gameplay. Curiously, there are also a few lower-resolution textures in places on Xbox One, but this seems to be down to a bug (perhaps on level of detail transitions) as opposed to a conscious downgrade.

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Performance analysis: Tomb Raider Definitive Edition

Digital FoundryPerformance analysis: Tomb Raider Definitive Edition

The reality of PS4 1080p60 vs. Xbox One 1080p30.

The unscheduled, early release this weekend of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 allowed us to get something of a head start on our upcoming Face-Off coverage. Factoring in the controversy surrounding the frame-rate differential between the two versions, we prioritised performance analysis in order to get our impressions to you as quickly as possible - and the results are going to make for uncomfortable reading at Microsoft.

Reports suggesting that the PS4 version of the game operates at a slick 60fps while the Xbox One game languishes at the console-standard 30fps are verified - up to a point. Deeper analysis reveals that PS4 frame-rates can vary significantly depending on the effects work at play, resulting in variable controller latency and some on-screen judder. For its part, performance on Xbox One is palpably lower - massively so judged by the numbers alone, but the experience itself is more consistent overall.

First up, let's compare the two versions of the game running exact like-for-like footage via engine-driven cut-scenes. On Xbox One, we see a lock at 30fps, with occasional dropped frames shifting results lower. Activity is far more interesting on the PS4 side though, with frame-rate varying from anything between 32fps to 60fps across our sample, with elements such as TressFX, depth of field and transparent alpha effects hitting frame-rate in a cumulative manner. Note in particular how scenes that switch between the TressFX-enabled Lara and the rest of the cast can see sudden switches in performance.

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VideoVideo: How does the PS4 Tomb Raider compare to the original?

Definitive Edition brings better hair, more Bruce Forsyth.

The January lull seems lullier than ever, thanks no doubt to an industry that tired itself out in the process of launching two new consoles late last year, meaning we're left to get excited about re-releases. Crystal Dynamic's Tomb Raider reboot has at least had the decency to doll itself up for the occasion, hitting the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 with new character models and enhanced visuals for the 'Definitive Edition'.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is 60fps on PS4 - report

UPDATE: But "both platforms offer the same outstanding experience," Square Enix says.

UPDATE: Square Enix has issued a response to reports that, unlike Tomb Raider's Xbox One version, the PlayStation 4 edition will run at 60fps - although the company's statement offers little new clarity on the issue.

Square Enix details Tomb Raider Definitive Edition's fancy new effects

Square Enix details Tomb Raider Definitive Edition's fancy new effects

Insists Lara's new, sweatier skin is "a very big deal."

Some would say Square Enix has a lot of nerve for shilling out a full-priced next-gen version of its 2013 Tomb Raider reboot a full year after the game hit store shelves, but the publisher is adamant that the new enhancements are worth the high asking price. Now, it's detailing exactly what these additions are in the following tech trailer.

Executive producer Scott Amos points out such nifty effects as how Lara's character model has been completely redone. "We've even added dynamic effects for how we light her skin and for materials that change for sweat, mud, and blood." More realistic sweat! That's a selling point I've not heard before.

Her face too has been redone with apparently five times the density of improvements on her facial features. But does the HD version make her look better, or just shinier (or sweatier)? Either way, Square considers her new skin "a very big deal."

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Tomb Raider finally achieved profitability "by the end of last year"

Dev talks sales expectations, Definitive Edition and the game's sequel.

Last year, Square Enix said it was "very disappointed" that the high review scores for Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot had not translated into the equally high sales it had expected for the game - a whopping 5-6 million units within four weeks.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition confirmed for PS4, Xbox One

UPDATE: Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition will launch for PS4 and Xbox One in North America on 28th January and in Europe on 31st January, the game's official Tumblr has confirmed.

In addition to the details confirmed at the VGX Awards, Square Enix has detailed all the content present in the game - you'll get the pre-order bonus tomb The Tomb of the Lost Adventurer, plus a bunch of the game's multiplayer add-ons - eight DLC maps, six weapons, four characters.

Six extra Lara outfits are also included, plus digital copies of the Dark Horse comic Tomb Raider: The Beginning, Brady Games' art book Tomb Raider: The Art of Survival plus Zachary Levi's The Final Hours of Tomb Raider documentary series.

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Tomb Raider review

RecommendedTomb Raider review

Follow the Moskva down to Gorky Park.

The Definitive Edition of Tomb Raider is released for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this week. Digital Foundry will be looking at these versions in detail, starting with today's performance analysis. In addition, here's Ellie's review of the Xbox 360 version, first published on 25th February 2013. The game itself is largely unchanged, save for the inclusion of some minor DLC and voice and motion control options, so we're confident that this review applies to the Definitive Edition, too.

Come, young adventurer. Or, if you remember the original Tomb Raider games: come, adventurer. Down the narrow passage, through the great stone doorway, into the torchlit chamber. Tread with reverence, for this is the final resting place of gaming's fallen heroes.

Here lies BloodRayne, buried in her best leather waistcoat. Alongside, marked by a tattered elephant jockstrap, is the grave of Leisure Suit Larry. Over there are the fossilised remains of Gex the gecko, Bubsy the bobcat and Q*bert the whatever the heck Q*bert was. Soldiers all. Let us remember them with a moment's silence, ignoring the sound of Nintendo's scraping shovels and Sega doing unspeakable things to corpses.

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