Last week at the VGX Awards, Square Enix finally admitted they would be re-releasing Tomb Raider on the PS4 and Xbox One. This ‘Definitive Edition’ comes with a handful of visual upgrades including TressFX technology for Lara’s hair (like the original PC version), a remodelling for Lara’s face and better leaves and branches on the trees. And presumably better explosions, because that’s the next-gen dream right?
It will also include the previous pre-order incentive Tomb of the Lost Adventurer and there will be some unique touches that are only possible on next-gen machines. The Xbone version will include Kinect voice controls for weapon selection and the PS4’s DualShock light will light up when Lara’s lights a touch.
There’s even more packed in though! Like the extra skins, weapons and eight DLC maps for the multiplayer that everyone plays so much! Making of documentaries that you’d otherwise have to look for on YouTube! That really shitty digital prologue comic! And there’s an extra artbook in the Special Edition of the Definitive Edition for those of you wanting more than the Standard Edition of the Definitive Edition! What!
You can order all these essential improvements for $59.99, which at the moment on Amazon (US version) is a few dollars more than recent next-gen games like Forza 5 or Killzone: Shadow Fall. Bargain. Despite being a mere six weeks away in the UK, there are barely any listings to be found online, but some have recently appeared at Game for £55 or ShopTo at (a still eye-watering) £45-£50. So, essentially this is a full-priced next-gen release. Or you could buy it now on PS3 or Xbox 360 for less than £15.
Tomb Raider is an excellent game, there’s no denying that, it was my pick for best game at the halfway mark of 2013. But do we really want to let publishers set a precedent this early on in the new generation for reselling us a nigh-on identical product? Better hair? Are you kidding me? And what the hell was wrong with Lara’s face in the old version anyway?
I’m not opposed to visual upgrades at all -hell, my inner graphics whore really wants to see this thing running on my PS4- but there’s no justification for gouging gamers full price for a game that will be nearly a year old when it is re-released. Yes, the paid multiplayer DLC is included, but does anyone actually want to play TR’s multiplayer anymore? If Square-Enix had tasked Crystal Dynamics with working on some extra single-player content like extra tombs or maybe even some new parts of the island to explore we would have gladly thrown some extra money at this.
At least with the wave of HD re-releases we saw on PS3 and Xbox 360, there was a genuine visual incentive to re-buy (or indeed visit for the first time) with often extremely notable differences in visual quality, not to mention some much appreciated widescreen support. And they were all released at a discount price. Square Enix themselves have done some good ones with Kingdom Hearts, Hitman and even some older Tomb Raider games.
The high-price point for this ‘Definitive Edition’ of Tomb Raider could be the start of a worrying trend if more publishers decide to add some extra minute visual effects and sprinkle them with DLC and then charge an amount that’s considerably higher than buying the last-gen version and the DLC separately.
How long before we see Gears of War with more frowning? God of War with more angry veins in Kratos’ head? Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite with bigger erm... eyes. And you can bet the farm that Grand Theft Auto V will appear on PS4 and Xbox One by Christmas next year with additional litter and finer beards.
While I’m at it, we at least need a new name for these re-releases, I’m already sick of writing Definitive Edition, especially when there’s a Standard and Special edition of the same thing. I mean, it’s definitive, but this one’s better?! Madness.
As always dear readers, we want to hear your thoughts. Would you pay this much for a shiner Tomb Raider? What extras would you expect in a next-gen re-release to make it worthwhile? Anyway, gotta dash, I need to go and email Square Enix to see if they’ll send me a copy because deep down, I’m the sort of shallow, shiny object-seeking magpie that game publishers are aiming at with this sort of thing.