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Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is a reworked and remastered port of the Tomb Raider reboot that launched to a lot of praise last year, and has become the first AAA multiplatform release post launch for “next-gen” consoles. Naturally, it has quickly become a battle ground to prove console superiority.
Fans were first upset that the PC version would not see any of the new improvements, then Square-Enix announced the Definitive Edition would cost the full price of a new game, 59.99 USD, when just weeks ago Tomb Raider was on sale on Steam for well under 20 dollars. Earlier in the week news hit the internet that both versions of the Definitive Edition would be locked at 30 frames per second. Recently, sources of Rocket Chainsaw revealed that in fact neither version would have a locked framerate, but the Xbox One version was running at about 30 frames per second and the Playstation 4 version was actually running at 60 fps.
Frames per second refer to the number of still pictures displayed in rapid succession to create the illusion of movement. What that translates to in games is both smoother animations and lower input delay. The benefits are easy to see and, more importantly, feel. With one version of the game drastically worse than the other, one starts to wonder if the reported difference of power in the consoles is bigger than initially suspected.
The first rumor we heard coming out of the Definitive Edition this week was that both versions would be locked at 30 fps, which appears to be false, but it might have been beneficial for the Xbox One version. If Rocket Chainsaw’s source is correct, that version of the game could be ranging from 25 to 45 frames per second. What is so much worse than a consistent lower frame rate, is one that ranges.
Games can be completely playable at 30 fps, though it’s not ideal, but a game like Knack, which probably never dropped to an intolerably low frame rate, suffered greatly from having an unlocked framerate that ranged sporadically throughout the game. If the Xbox One version of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition has frame rate jumps consistently throughout the experience, forget it being the lesser version of the game, it will be worse than the last-gen versions.
In a perfect world, next-gen would mean both an increase in resolution and frames per second, but frequently it seems that developers are picking one to optimize at he expense of the other. The Definitive Edition will be full 1080p on both consoles, but a consistently high frame rate is much more impactful on the quality of a game.
The promise of next-gen gaming is higher resolution and higher frame rates, but Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition is poised to only accomplish both on one console, the Playstation 4. The Xbox One has received negative feedback from fans for releasing a more expensive console that is not as good at gaming. Why should a games enthusiast, who cares about having the highest caliber games to play, pay an extra hundred dollars for a console that cannot compete even in the first year of development? Is Sony’s platform that much more powerful for a game that is about a year old? We will fun out more next week.
Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition launches on January 28th for Playstation 4 and Xbox One as Entertainment Fuse’s review will be up soon.