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Soapbox: Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition Lights a Path for Future PS4 Ports

Posted by Sammy Barker

Sammy Barker wants more next-gen upgrades

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition eclipsed my expectations. Having spent my Christmas break exploring the unkind shores of Yamatai on the PlayStation 3, I really wasn’t expecting Crystal Dynamics’ seemingly overpriced next generation upgrade to catch my attention a second time. However, from the opening cinematic through to the first underground environment, I knew that I was wrong. I even pushed the DualShock 4’s versatile share button to publicly acknowledge as much.

There’s been a lot of criticism lofted at the game, and some of it’s hard to argue against. For starters, at around £40/$60 depending on where you shop, this is an expensive proposition for anyone that’s played the original release. Square Enix has attempted to mitigate the backlash by pointing to the things that it has added, but a divisive new character model and an in-game comic book is probably not enough to justify paying full price again. Well, unless you like pretty visuals.

And that’s the thing: I do like pretty visuals. Some may say it’s shallow to be drawn in by attractive vistas and special effects, but I’ve always been that type of gamer, and I’m not ashamed of it. Don’t get me wrong, I fully subscribe to the sentiment that good graphics don’t make a good game, but I’d argue that a good game is almost always enhanced by good graphics. And for me, that’s exactly what unknown Netherlands-based developer Nixxes has managed to achieve with the abovementioned port.

Prior to release, there was some debate over whether Sony’s next generation system would even represent much of a step forward over current machines. Around the time that that discourse was rampant, titles such as The Last of Us, BioShock Infinite, and, yes, the current-gen iteration of Lara Croft’s maiden voyage were all occupying the charts. And no one’s going to argue that they all looked great considering the hardware available – but now it’s clear that they could have been so much more.

The improvements in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition are achingly obvious from the introductory interactive menu screen. Not only are the textures much more detailed, but the bumped up resolution – which cleans away the coat of Vaseline present in the current-gen version – and enhanced frame rate gives the experience a different feel from the off. And this only becomes more apparent as you progress through the game, with blustery outposts and dusty enclosures prompting you to stop and stare at the scenery around you. It breathes new life into the adventure.

Due to time availability – or the lack thereof – I don’t tend to replay titles anymore, as I’d rather use any opportunities I have available to try different experiences. However, I was surprised to find that revisiting the world’s most famous archaeologist’s origin story didn’t feel like a waste of my time. In fact, even though the campaign is identical to the one that I played on my PS3 less than four weeks earlier, I still found myself hunting every wild animal and gathering up as many artefacts as I could find.

Part of that’s probably down to the fact that Crystal Dynamics simply made an enjoyable game, but I also quickly realised that the visuals had managed to keep things feeling fresh. I enjoyed re-examining old environments because the boost in resolution and texture quality made them feel new, and I found myself stopping and staring at some scenes for longer than I actually anticipated. In truth, if I wasn’t constantly conscious of spamming my friends and family on Facebook, I probably would have pushed the share button more times than I actually did, too.

And all of this has made me realise that I’m not against the idea of doing it all over again for a different game. I actually don’t think that the release schedule for Sony’s new super machine looks as poor as some pundits are making out, but there’s no doubt that it could do with a spot of padding in places. And what better way to achieve that than by re-releasing some of last year’s biggest outings? After all, there are plenty of heavy hitters to pick from.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d prefer publishers put out brand new escapades rather than repurposed old ones, but past console launches have proven that it’s going to take time for the blockbusters to truly begin to flow. As a transitional year, then, I think that the industry could do worse than preparing a plethora of heavily upgraded ports. It may not sound all that exciting on paper, but just imagine how good the likes of Los Santos and Columbia could look on significantly superior hardware. Is that really such a bad thing?


Would you be willing to play more upgraded ports on Sony’s next-gen system, or would you rather publishers focused their attention on concocting brand new experiences for the burly black box? Clean up your opinion in the comments section below.

Would you play more upgraded ports on your PS4? (49 votes)

Yes, as long as the conversion’s good I’d be eager to revisit some older games

29%

It depends on the title and the quality of the upgrade

53%

No, I’m not willing to pay again to play the same game regardless of the visuals

18%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (25)

ShogunRokAdmin

#1

ShogunRok said:

I would argue that good visuals can make a bad game seem that much better - don't think there's much wrong with liking good looking games.

It works in multiple ways. Look at a game like Crysis - it's got no real, extravagant personality, but its visual quality really helps sell the game. You show a Crysis game to someone in order to boast about its visuals. It makes it a better game - it almost makes the game.

Meanwhile, a game like Persona 4 is 50% about its visuals. Without that art style, that constant sense of charisma, it wouldn't be anywhere near as memorable. And there's nothing wrong with that - if visuals add to an experience, then that's that.

KALofKRYPTON

#2

KALofKRYPTON said:

I'm enjoying it so far.

The price criticism just doesn't make sense to me. If you've already played it or own it, why bother buying it again. Or moaning that it costs 40 quid? It's essentially the same purchase.
If like me, you never played it, you get a new.game for less than current new game price.

Gemuarto

#3

Gemuarto said:

Lara desrved this port, because her body looks so much sexier with sub-surface scattering =). And I think that environments weren't updated as much as Lara was. Don't know why other games should be updated.

get2sammybAdmin

#4

get2sammyb said:

@ShogunRok I agree with the sentiment, but I think in Crysis' case it worked because it was considered to be the greatest looking game for a long time. I think if you take that path, you have to be the absolute best visually - you don't get anywhere being an average game and almost the best looking.

@KALofKRYPTON Absolutely - if you're new to the game it's a no brainer. I think some people that have already played it thought that it should have been cheaper due to the lack of content. Aside from the pricing of all next-gen games being stupid in the UK, I don't really agree. I think the upgrades make it worth 'full' price.

ShogunRokAdmin

#5

ShogunRok said:

@get2sammyb That's true, especially in the case of Crysis. But I still think it probably applies to most AAA titles. Games like Uncharted or The Last of Us are obviously at the high end of visual quality, but it's that quality that partially gives them their status in the first place.

I'm not saying that all games need to look insanely good, but it definitely helps when it comes to big releases that aren't things like Call of Duty. The GIFs, the initial impressions - how a game looks undoubtedly creates a first impression, subconsciously or not.

drumsandperc92

#6

drumsandperc92 said:

i want more ports for 2 simple reasons. first, i never owned a ps3, so titles like the last of us would be great for to experience on ps4. secondly, my x360 is an original, with 20gb hdd thats basically filled up, and the machine runs loud and hot. games like gtav I'm concerned about running on the system. also, i skipped gtav as well as tomb raider on 360 plus other games in 2013 because i was saving my money for ps4. now that i have ps4, id much rather play some of those gems i missed on my new console with upgrades! bring on the ports!!

charlesnarles

#7

charlesnarles said:

There were only a handful of PS3 games that I didn't play [and would want to on 4], but @drumsandperc92 has a point too. I think they still need to be careful about holding PS4 back by focusing on remastering older games instead of coming up with new ideas pushing the new architecture's much broader parameters. Fillers are never that good long-term, so they should just take their time with sequels and new IPs

get2sammybAdmin

#8

get2sammyb said:

@charlesnarles @drumsandperc92 Oh, I absolutely agree that these should not be the focus of the lineup - more a stop gap. We know that all of the core teams are working on new PS4 games, though, so I think as long as stuff is being outsourced rather than developed in house, this could still be a great way to flesh out the lineup.

And yes, you're absolutely right - I'm sure there are a lot of ex-Xbox owners that are just joining PlayStation with the PS4, so there's lots of stuff they may want to catch up on. There are other games like Puppeteer that maybe got overlooked on current-gen systems that could benefit from a re-release.

Wesker

#9

Wesker said:

No way. Once I've played the game I've played the game. Not going to buy the same game again for better visuals. I can count on one hand the games I've want to play through multiple times and nearly all of those begin with Un- and end with -charted.

Squiggle55

#10

Squiggle55 said:

I would re-buy relatively cheaper games like Journey. But I probably wouldn't rebuy full price retail games. I am in support of these upgrades however, because there are plenty of PS3 games I never bought and if I'm given the choice I'd like to choose it on PS4 now.

Shaolin

#11

Shaolin said:

Gaming is like life in general; it can be nice to reminisce a little but you've got to move on.

Gamer83

#12

Gamer83 said:

Please, no more damn ports! I bought Tomb Raider and was willing to accept it because we're just a couple months into the system. Beyond March, the last-gen ports absolutely have to stop. Don't waste any time on TLoU all the work at Naughty Dog should be on getting Uncharted out THIS year. I love GTA V, but Rockstar needs to be focusing on the next Red Dead. I could go on but everybody knows where this is headed. I didn't buy a PS4 to re-play PS3 games and for all the sh*t Nintendo got last year, Sony has to hear just as much if the whole first year is inFamous and higher-res PS3 games. That will be utterly embarrassing from a first-party perspective and sadly I think that's what this year will be. Sony better hope third party games stay on track and that PS4 versions continue to out-perform the rest because the exclusive lineup is just pathetic. Should've had more than just Sucker Punch, Guerilla and Evolution working on PS4 games especially since the last of those 3 is beyond incompetent.

get2sammybAdmin

#13

get2sammyb said:

@Gamer83 All of its studios are working on PS4 games, though. I do appreciate your point, but I don't think this has to be an either/or situation. Naughty Dog can still continue work on Uncharted PS4, for example, while another developer ports The Last of Us. All it needs to do is provide support for the third-party team. That's exactly what Crystal Dynamics did with Tomb Raider - it's working on the sequel, while Nixxes and UFG ported the original.

ReigningSemtex

#14

ReigningSemtex said:

There's plenty of gamers out there that would moan about it but there will be plenty of people that never played insert game name and its just a new game to them, and then there will be people that were fans of the original release that would want a superior version.
Also think about the amount of previous 360 owners that have now bought a ps4 and haven't experienced the wealth of ps3 exclusives they are surely a perfect market for 'definitive' edition style games.

LDXD

#15

LDXD said:

Why not make ports of classic ps1 or ps2 games not games that have been out less than a year ago that I can easily go out and buy for $20 that looks almost the same
There isn't anything wrong with the visuals of tomb raider for example so why a slightly enhanced version for full price
I rather a complete overhaul of maybe kingsfield or something From an older generation

LDXD

#16

LDXD said:

This is why ps4 should have been backwards compatible, y'all say it doesn't need backwards compatibility but then y'all scream for ports of games that just came out I don't get it

Gamer83

#17

Gamer83 said:

@get2sammyb @ReigningSemtex

They could do it that way or Sony could have ND do it and there's the built-in excuse for why doesn't have f*** all from a first party perspective in 2014. And I'm not even against late ports but good God do it when it makes sense not for these games that just came out, if people want PS3 games buy a damn PS3, as a bonus it saves them some money as well. All these last-gen ports serve to do is hold back the new console and it's an easy way for publishers to make money no doubt Sony is thrilled that a big part of the fanbase would prefer TLoU Game of the Year Edition PS4 than Uncharted 4 it seems. Last-gen people complained about sequels well what's about to happen this gen is even worse. There is ZERO reason to bring TLoU and GTA V to the next-gen, now Sony can't control what Rockstar does but if it wanted TLoU to be on PS4 the release date should've been pushed from June to Nov. 15 for a cross-gen release or it should've been PS4 exclusive from the start. Unfortunately though people don't seem to care about late ports, in fact there is high demand and it sets a very bad precedent.

ReigningSemtex

#18

ReigningSemtex said:

@Gamer83 I would understand if it actually held up development for ps4 games but like Sammy mentioned they could outsource the upgrade to smaller studios while naughty dog, rockstar ect work on new games. Then the people that missed out first time round can have the best experience along with the fans who deem the game good enough to repurchase, and the people that want to moan about it don't have to buy it (although they will probably moan anyway because it will eat away that they haven't got the better version).

Gamer83

#19

Gamer83 said:

@ReigningSemtex

All I'm going to say then is I better not see anybody whether they're a PS fan or Xbox fan getting up in arms when these expensive, high-powered consoles become nothing more than port machines. And I hope to not see the Sony guys and gals laughing at MS like hypocrites when Halo 2 Anniversary is announced.

ReigningSemtex

#20

ReigningSemtex said:

@Gamer83 Ah halo 2 anniversary would be pretty sweet thinking about it. I'd buy that.

I don't want this gen to be full of ports either but right now when it's just getting started why not? There's not much else keeping me gaming on my ps4. And being someone who enjoyed playing through a few hd re-releases of games I had last played over ten years ago it's does breathe new life into them.

I think the fact that playstation now is soon to be a thing proves this gen isn't going to be full of ps3 ports.

Gamer83

#21

Gamer83 said:

@ReigningSemtex

I'm hoping that's what PS Now will do is cut out this idea of late, lazy ports but until it is up an running and proves to be a tremendous success I'm not going to get too comfortable. It also doesn't help that there isn't a damn thing Sony has shown outside of inFamous and The Order to make me feel good about the first party lineup. I keep reading that its studios are working on games..... That's great, except working on games could mean anything. For all anybody knows it could be a bunch of low-budget indie-style trash. Likely? Probably not but there's nothing announced to dispel that either. I'd say Sony has to get its f'ing act together but as long as the fanbase is willing to be bent over it doesn't have to change anything.

ReigningSemtex

#22

ReigningSemtex said:

@Gamersomething I don't think the future is looking any brighter on XBone either though.
To be honest I am pretty sure it's like this for a while every time a new console is launched because of higher development costs and time and studios getting to grips with the new hardware, its just something us early adopters have to get used to. Hey we werent forced to buy a ps4 straight away we knew when you bought it what the release schedule was like.
Personally I have been advising people who haven't got a ps4 or XBone yet to just buy a cheap ps3 or 360 and enjoy any of the exclusives you may have missed out on last gen it's a perfect time not alot about on the new consoles and a wealth of games on previous gen being traded in and now made available dirt cheap.

Gamer83

#23

Gamer83 said:

@ReigningSemtex

First years are rarely great because of many cross-gen releases and developers getting used to new hardware. Day-and-date cross-gen is more tolerable than year to year-and-a-half old ports though especially when you get out of the 2-3 month launch window of a new console.

Reverend_Skeeve

#24

Reverend_Skeeve said:

I would love to see cranked up re-releases of select PS3 games on the PS4!

I can understand the fear that this could increase development time on the PS4 titles the respective studios are working on, but I think it's not justified, because, as has been mentioned, the porting can be outsourced with the original creator of the game only supervising.

To all those saying "If you wanted to play TloU/[enter preferred game here] you should've gotten a PS3 in the first place" I can only say that I was simply just able to afford one system during last/old gen. It's cool if you guys had all the gaming systems you desired at home, but I had to chose and went with the 360 and had an absolute blast most of the time.

Now I chose to rejoin the PlayStation family for obvious reasons and would love to play some PS3 gems I missed out. And I would prefer them like TR - DE, because I didn't buy it for my 360 back then to safe money for the PS4, so this was perfect for me. Also, I'd rather have the games run locally on my system at home than stream then. I have fast internet, but I'm very skeptical that, lag-wise, streaming gameplay can compete with a local game running at 60fps full HD.

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