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Video Game Review: Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

February 12, 2014 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Tomb Raider Definitive Edition
Things look better than ever in the new Definitive Edition.

If you checked out our Year in Review, you saw Square-Enix’s Tomb Raider reboot firmly nestled among our top five titles for 2013. The mixture of combat and exploration was excellent, and the more three-dimensional tone they set with Lara Croft, who was no longer just a series of one-liners and short shorts, did a great job of creating a new baseline for the series.

Now, a little less than a year later, the game is being re-released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Although it does come with all the original’s downloadable content, there wasn’t that much of it to begin with. Outside of an additional tomb and some new outfits for Lara, most of it pertains to the multiplayer, which remains the game’s weakest aspect. Instead, the main draw is that the visual bar was raised considerably as an already great looking game has been rebuilt into something even more impressive.

While much of the focus will be on Lara, she’s not the only beneficiary of this overhaul. The lush island of Yamatai looks tremendous as you progress, and the next-gen lighting really shines when reflecting the flickering of flames or flash of lightning. Between that, the weather effects and diversity of the locations, the island itself becomes a place you can’t help but want to explore thoroughly. And, oh yeah, Lara looks better than she ever has with more realistic looking features.

Beyond the extra content and beefed up graphics, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition does have a couple of new tricks up its sleeve. Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions support voice commands (you’ll need to have your Kinect or Eye hooked up to take advantage), and the PS4 controller also gets in on the act. Collectibles, such as audio logs, and other sounds can now be heard through the Dual Shock 4’s speaker — oddly, though, they still play through the speakers as well, which creates an echo effect. The controller will even flicker red and orange when holding a torch.

For everything this game is, however, it’s not your typical “Game of the Year” re-release in which the full version is accompanied by hours of added content. Nor is it an older game getting a much needed high-definition makeover as the original Tomb Raider rates among the best looking titles on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. And that leads to the question: is it worth buying?

If you didn’t play it when it launched last year then the answer is an enthusiastic yes. In fact, viewed purely on its own merits you can make a strong case that this is the best game available on either of the next-gen systems. If you shelled out US$60 a year ago, however, it’s tough to say a few bits of extra content and some improved graphics are worth doubling your investment in the series.

OVERALL (4.75/5)

We thoroughly enjoyed playing Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. It sucked us back in almost immediately and reaffirmed our decision to label it among the best games of 2013. If you own one of the next-gen systems and haven’t played this game, you should pick up a copy immediately. If you already played through it, there’s far less urgency.

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Video Game Review: Fable Anniversary

February 11, 2014 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
One mechanic that does feel woefully out of place is the button-mashing fishing mini game. Here you’ll tap “A” to hook a fish, and then mash on it when the fish isn’t pulling (indicated by a small meter) to reel it in. Some of these encounters can drag on far too long, however, and we grew weary of the process long before we’d snagged all the goodies hiding beneath the surface.
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Video Game Review: Onslaught DLC

February 2, 2014 | by Herija Green | Comments (0)
Based on the SD hats and whale-esque souvenirs in the gift shop, we’re guessing Bayview draws some inspiration as a small-scale version of Sea World (there’s even a tiny aquarium). It’s a bright map with loads of buildings to duck in and out of as a trolley slowly makes its way back and forth across the level, allowing for brave souls to ride along and try to pick off enemies. A couple of elevated positions also offer long lines of sight, allowing capable snipers to cover the middle.
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Video Game Review: Operation Broken Eagle

January 28, 2014 | by Herija Green | Comments (0)
Even though we wouldn’t put Dead Rising 3 into the pantheon of launch titles, you could certainly make a strong case it was the best console exclusive for either the Xbox One or PlayStation 4. Now, some two months after launch, the first of four promised add-ons — collectively known as the “Untold Stories of Los Perdidos” — has arrived.
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Video Game Review: Crimson Dragon

January 27, 2014 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Most of the game is on rails, and when that’s the case things handle reasonably well. You navigate within your guided route via the left stick and can do barrel rolls by tapping the left and right bumpers, respectively. Aiming is down with the right stick, whether for straight shots or to paint targets, with the right trigger firing. You can also toggle between available weapons with the left trigger. On missions with a wingman, you can have him cover front (d-pad up) or back (d-pad down) as well as team up for a powerful combination attack (X). It’s not great, but it works.
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