Sunday, February 2, 2014

Raiding tombs definitively

This weekend, I'm playing Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Well, "definitive." I had both versions on my GameFly queue just so I wouldn't be delayed in getting a copy, since I'm on a relatively tight schedule (what with two review assignments underway and Bravely Default finally being released in North America later this week). The PS4 version was placed higher, but they sent me an Xbox One copy even though both are listed as "available now." I think I've been trolled.

The well-broadcast problem is that the PS4 version runs at or around 60fps, while the Xbox One rendition caps at a more console-standard 30fps. I won't act like this isn't acceptable; 30fps still looks fine, and I'm kinda used to it when not gaming on my PC. Feels like a missed opportunity, though, especially since this is technically a last-gen game. Ah, but the Xbox One version has Kinect commands, which aren't used for anything that couldn't be performed with a simple button press and are astronomically less reliable and intuitive! Joy!

Also, my Kinect has a nasty habit of picking up voices from the TV itself and mistaking them for voice commands, and I had to just turn the damn sensor off after it heard one of the NPCs say something that sounded like "pause" and promptly paused without my input. But yes, Microsoft. By all means, pack one of these in with every Xbox One and charge $100 than your competitor's console, the one that can apparently run the same game at double the framerate.

Ugh. I've said a couple of times that I'd actually recommend Xbox One over PS4 at this point simply because it's got more worthwhile content, but please don't ever take that as an outright endorsement of the thing.

On that note, I think it's actually kind of funny that Square Enix goes and re-releases Tomb Raider on the new consoles and it's really far and away the best game on either of them. I think I ranked Resogun higher on my year-end list, but replaying Tomb Raider is reminding me just how rich and full an experience it is: a (mostly) successful mix of play styles that's thick on atmosphere and woven into a Metroid-like expanding environment that's a joy to explore. Definitive Edition is also, despite the underwhelming framerate on Xbox One, actually a hell of a lot prettier than many new-gen releases, too, up to and including Knack and Dead Rising 3. (I finally tried the latter this week, by the way, and I'm pleasantly surprised by how much I'm enjoying it, but good heavens is it ugly.)

I'll probably review Definitive Edition at some point, so I'll save the full analysis for that (especially since I never got around to reviewing Tomb Raider after several of my colleagues at HonestGamers did some excellent write-ups that transcribed my thoughts on the game pretty much to the letter). In the meantime, I broke out the Elgato to take some screens of the Xbox One version, so here's what the game looks like in 1080p (and what Lara looks like in her bangin' new archer outfit). Click on any of the images to view them full-size.

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