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Is Tomb Raider Definitive Edition more than a facelift?

It's not just the polygon count and lighting effects that have changed in the next-gen only Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Lara herself has gotten a bit of a face-lift and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.


When the news that Crystal Dynamics were working on a next-gen update for their 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise, the optimist inside me was hoping this new version would address some of the game's story weaknesses, as well as being a graphical overall. Not that the story is bad in any way, on the contrary, it's a great re-imagining of the Lara Croft character. But if you've played the game, you know there's this weirdness in what the story conveys about Lara and the actions you as the player perform with her.

Anyway, the new Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition addresses none of that and is strictly a next-gen graphical overhaul. Which is fine, except that some of the overhauling seems completely unnecessary, specifically Lara's new face.

Tomb Raider - old lara.jpg
Left: Old New Lara, Right: New New Lara

It's unlikely you would have noticed the changes to Lara's visage at a glance, but these two screen grabs, courtesy of a NeoGaffer, makes it very apparent that Lara's reboot face has gotten another mild reboot. Eye colour and shape are different, fuller lips, rounded nose and thicker eyebrows. Each change on its own isn't particularly radical and even all together the face isn't that different, but it does give off the impression of a younger, more innocent, more immature Lara.

Now, the folks at sci-fi blog io9 picked up on the change as well and their take is that "The first Lara Croft looks like an attractive, but ordinary young university graduate. The new one looks, well… a bit sexier. A bit less fresh-faced student, a bit more action heroine. A bit more like the Lara of old, the pin-up girl of 90′s video games."

Yeeaaah, that's all very controversial statement is controversial. Debating which one is sexier is like asking whose hotter, Emma Watson or Emma Stone. It's really all about personal preference. Both Lara's are attractive, because we're never going to get an ugly or even mediocre looking Lara Croft. The real question is: "why bother?"

Tomb Raider - old lara2.jpg
Top: Old New Lara, Bottom: New New Lara

Online chatter has suggested that the new face is to make Lara look more like her motion capture and voice actress Camilla Luddington. If that's true, then it's more like they were going for a vague resemblance, rather than an outright copy cat likeness. And if that is the case then, really, why bother? If your were going to change her to look like the voice actress, then just make her look like the voice actress, already. Making them look like second cousins seems like a waste of man hours. 


Regardless of the motivation, I still believe that Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition is a wasted opportunity to tweak the most criticized element of the game, namely the disconnect between the narrative tone and the actual gameplay. But even with that flaw, Tomb Raider is still a great game and if you've got a next-gen console and didn't give it a go the first time, this is as great an opportunity as ever. 

Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition releases for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later in 2014. You can pre-order the game from for PlayStation 4 HERE.

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