A Rise of the Tomb Raider review? But the game has been out since November 2015?
Correct. If you have an Xbox One that is, if you have a PS4 you won’t be seeing this game until the end of 2016! It only came out on PC at the end of January. Oh the joys of timed exclusivity…
With that rant aside, it’s time to look at Rise of the Tomb Raider for PC.
Set one year after the events of Tomb Raider (2013), Lara Croft sets out on another adventure, this time trying to finish her father’s work. Her quest takes her from Syria to Siberia, where she encounters a powerful new threat to the world, an organisation that is out to beat Lara to the treasure they both seek.
Camilla Luddington returns to voice Lara Croft, as well as retuning to model the motion capture for the game. One thing I will say, in the next game please have Lara play with her ponytail less, which is what she did every time she got out of the water, it got annoying.
The only other returning character from the first game is Jonah, voiced by Earl Baylon. Just like the first game, Jonah appears in little snippets during the main story, helping Lara with moral advice.
If you have played the first game in the reboot series, you will quickly re-familiarise yourself with the controls and handling of Lara. Most of the gameplay and style has also remained the same, but they have managed to tweak a few of the complaints from the first game. These little adjustments makes for a much more fluid, and enjoyable game.
The crafting system is back, but has been enhanced. Rather than looking for salvage, like in the previous game, you can now take from the environment, whether that is wood from a tree or pelts from animals. These can all be used to upgrade Lara’s gear.
You can use leaves to help heal yourself, as well as harvesting mushrooms to make poison-tipped arrows.
In terms of new things, a weather system has been added. Both human and animals react to this, and there are benefits and rewards from exploring in different types of weather. For example, some hides required to make special equipment or outfits, are on animals that only come out at certain times of the day, or in certain weather conditions. So it is worth taking the time to keep a look out for rare animals, and to see what the current weather is. That’s the great thing about this game, there are so many layers to it. This just enhances the gameplay and makes for an extended game, it really is a game to take your time with.
You also have the option to complete side missions for various NPC’s in the game, and the rewards and benefits are always in your favour. So it really is worth taking on the challenges. I mean, how cool would it be to have a lock pick so early in the game?
You also have a new feature to be able to buy new equipment and weaponry from a trader. To be able to buy these items you need to find coins. These are scattered throughout the levels, so it’s always worth keeping an eye out for the map in each area that reveals their locations.
The fighting system has also been revamped, and has been adjusted to make stealth much more effective. You can now climb trees, or swim underwater, allowing for aerial and water take downs. There are other equipment enhances too. You can acquire a combat knife, which helps with side missions and stealth kills. You also get to use a grappling hook feature on your climbing axe, as well as a breather to help you stay under water for longer.
It’s not just the shiny new toys that make the game fantastic, Lara’s in-game mechanics have been tweaked as well, so the movement is a lot more fluid. Make the most of Lara’s newly refined jumping and movement skills, they really come in to their own when it comes to exploring tombs.
And speaking of tombs, that is one thing the makers get right with this game. While there were tombs in the previous game, they felt sparse and an afterthought. The focus was more on the story they wanted to tell, then they just threw in a few tombs to make the gameplay longer.
You can tell that in Rise of the Tomb Raider, the tomb challenges have really been thought out. The puzzles vary, so it’s not always about climbing to the highest point to reach the treasure. Some tombs require you to use logic and to manipulate the environment and use tools and explosives to reach your goal. This is what fans of the series have been crying out for, the puzzle element of the game returning.
I was able to set the graphics to maximum and not have any performance issues. I was also able to compare the graphics to Xbox One, and the PC really does enhance and sharpen the graphics. As long as you have a powerful enough machine of course. It ran perfectly and looked visually stunning and the open world felt so much bigger than the previous game.
The game does have some drawbacks. First of all some of the game beats feel like they have been copied from the first game. Another mythical army protecting the treasure and all walking past you on mass while you try to sneak around…. déjà vu anyone?
The villains are also a little generic, and don’t really feel a threat to you throughout the game. The AI for some of the enemies also seemed to be a little off. There was one point where I accidentally bumped Lara in to a bad guy and he did not react. Despite these niggles, the game is still a worthy follow up to the first game.
Despite Rise of the Tomb Raider receiving critical acclaim, the sales in the UK were disappointing. Some believe releasing the game on the same day as Fallout 4 caused the main slump in sales. Others blamed the fact that the game was on a timed exclusivity deal with Xbox One. It’s probably fair to say that it was a mix of the two.
Hopefully this is a lesson learned for when the third game comes out in the future.
Overall, Rise of the Tomb Raider was a lengthy and fun adventure. You are allowed to take your time more with this game, explore more locations and take on side quests. You don’t feel too tied down to the main story.
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Summary: An improved version of Tomb Raider, not tied down by story. You are given the freedom to explore, craft and solve puzzles. It’s the Tomb Raider game die hard fans have been waiting for.