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Oh hun, such a drama queen.

Valenka

Contributor
CRank: 10Score: 93730

User Review : Rise of the Tomb Raider

Ups
  • Solid narrative continuance from predecessor
  • Outstanding environmental and character graphics
  • Expedition Modes add refreshing innovation to the franchise
Downs
  • Terribly obvious recycling from Tomb Raider (2013)
  • Rushed ending leaving a lot of unanswered questions

Lara Croft transcends from a survivor into the Tomb Raider

Warning: some minor spoilers may lie within; please read with caution.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is, for all intents and purposes, a direct sequel to the critically acclaimed reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise in 2013, with the narrative following one year subsequent. With that being said, there are a lot of similarities—and I use that term loosely—between the initial reboot and the sequel that would otherwise render the two indistinguishable if it weren't for a handful of improvements and changes across the board in the second installment.

Following Lara's traumatic experiences on the island of Yamatai, our British heroine is finding herself in isolation and shadow, not out of post-traumatic stress as the initial announcement trailer led us to believe. Instead, Lara's self-inflicted societal evasion has been brought upon by her pursuit of her father's research, where the British tabloids have labelled her negatively as her father's daughter—"another crazy Croft." Rise of the Tomb Raider descends deeper into the Croft family history in an appropriate way to help highlight Lara's new-found obsession with uncovering the truth behind ancient myths. Fortunately, it does not mimic Tomb Raider Underworld, with her family story serving as the overall focus for the experience; instead, we develop an understanding of Lara's upbringing and her father's legacy through brief flashback interludes and collectible documentation. In between the events of Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara understands that her father was not psychologically damaged; he was right about everything and it was an ancient, malevolent organization called Trinity that was responsible for discrediting her family and her father's demise.

In her mission to pick up where her father left off and to find closure for what she'd experienced on Yamatai, Lara's prologue sends her to Siberia to find the lost city of Kitezh, believed to contain the secret of immortality, while being pursued relentlessly by Trinity. Lara is no longer a reactive survivor, but a proactive force, racing toward her destiny as she ultimately discovers what it means to be a Croft. In her experience in Siberia, Lara must face off against the environment, its inhabitants and Trinity mercenaries to find and understand the power of the Divine Source.

Rise of the Tomb Raider immediately thrusts players head-first into a stunning, immersive environment that truly paints a picturesque experience. The amount of detail not only on the scenery, but the character models themselves is positively outstanding. Lara herself looks significantly different compared to the last game as her character model has changed, but the level of detail in her facial and hair animations are truly magnificent. The environments feel the way they should, showcasing an outstanding level of verisimilitude; between the icy realms of Siberia's outskirts to the warmer, more inhabitable geothermal valleys, the environments feel alive and are decorated with numerous collectibles to find, crypts and tombs to explore, animals to hunt and challenges to complete.

With the positive reception of the previous installment, Rise of the Tomb Raider features another round of RPG elements, with more depth and variety this time around. Lara can once again earn experience for discovering and clearing crypts and tombs, finding documents, relics and hidden caches, hunting animals, eliminating enemies with finesse and completing side missions for the friendly Remnant inhabitants. With enough experience, Lara will earn skill points which can be used to unlock skills from three different trees: Brawler, Survivor and Hunter. The skill trees offer different skills for Lara ranging from combat tactics to improving crafting resources and training an eye for detail to better locate the in-game collectibles.

Combat in Rise of the Tomb Raider is very similar to its predecessor, but one of the newly implemented features is the ability to craft additional armaments that will aid Lara in her fight against hostile forces. With resources that she can scavenge like cloth, wood and oil, Lara can craft both distracting and lethal consumables like smoke bombs, Molotov cocktails and booby traps. In addition, Lara has more brutal tactics at her disposal such as being able to jump from a tree branch and stab an enemy with her combat knife, to grabbing an enemy and pulling them underwater, breaking their neck with her climbing axe. Lara also has more variety in her arsenal this time around; Rise of the Tomb Raider still offers the same weapon categories of handguns, rifles, shotguns and bows, but each category contains several weapons each. With the exclusion of downloadable content and preorder bonuses, there's around three or four different weapons per category that are indeed customizable. The customization is not as in-depth as say, Medal of Honor, Ghost Recon or Fallout 4, but attachments and upgrades can be crafted and utilized. The only downside is that the attachments are not removable (so think carefully before you add on that suppressor) and the upgrades are universally shared; so unless you want an extended magazine or leather-wrapped handles on every weapon in the category, I'd advise against it. With the customization, there are several cosmetic upgrades I've skipped primarily because they wouldn't look good on a revolver as they would on a semi-automatic handgun, for example.

Rise of the Tomb Raider features an interesting new game mode called Expeditions, which offers an arcade-style theme on the side of the main narrative. Expeditions include game modes such as Score Attack, Remnant Resistance and Chapter Replay. With Expeditions, players may utilize Chapter Replay to go back to previously completed missions for another go; Chapter Replay Elite will allow you to do the same, but with your current gear and skills, a la New Game Plus. Players may also indulge in some arcade play and take on missions with specific challenges like hostage rescue, relic and artifact finding and specific enemy eliminations. If you're wanting a bit of an interesting twist, you can utilize the new Expedition Card Packs feature in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Expedition Card Packs give access to different modifiers, weapons, and outfits for use in the Expedition modes. Card packs can be purchased with credits easily earned in-game, or via microtransactions from the Xbox Store.

The true and unfortunate downside to Rise of the Tomb Raider as a whole is that in some instances, it is simply too familiar. I couldn't count on two hands where some animations, concepts or situations were essentially copy-and-paste scenarios from the previous game in the franchise. Some people may not find that entirely negative, but it does feel overall uninspired and lacking effort and innovation. Naturally, it's to be expected with direct sequels running on the same hardware and game engine, but there could have easily been some changes and tweaks to make those moments actually feel new and not recycled. For those who've played the previous Tomb Raider game, the last few missions in Rise of the Tomb Raider will give you some solid déjà vu.

Overall, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a magnificent experience. It offers truly spectacular visuals, gameplay and a fascinating narrative on top of immense replay value. Unfortunately, while the overall game had great pacing, the last few moments of the narrative felt rushed and almost lackluster, leaving a lot of unanswered questions and "Wait, what...?" moments. In addition to that, the recycling of animations, features and concepts from the previous installment might have a negative impact on some players while others may find them to be bridging-the-gap between the two games, reminding you that they are connected. There's also the matter of absolutely zero weapon animations in cutscenes—yeah, the handgun slide doesn't cycle back and forth when firing, if that bothers you. Despite some small annoyances, Rise of the Tomb Raider stands as a definitive experience as it puts the 'tomb' back in Tomb Raider and showcases a classic video game heroine as she transcends from a survivor into the Tomb Raider in her own unique, bad-ass way.

Score
10.0
Graphics
Rise of the Tomb Raider showcases some of the best visuals I've ever seen, especially in the Tomb Raider franchise, and truly accurately represents the beauty of Lara Croft's world.
9.8
Sound
Voice acting is outstanding and the orchestral score is fitting and beautiful. Sound effects are solid, but at times feel recycled and repetitive.
9.5
Gameplay
Rise of the Tomb Raider offers fantastic gameplay with excellent new additions to the franchise. However, at times, it can feel very copy-and-paste from the previous installment.
9.5
Fun Factor
Completing missions, scouting for collectibles and exploring ancient tombs and crypts has never been so enjoyable. There's so much to do in Rise of the Tomb Raider, enough to keep you busy well after you've completed the campaign.
Overall
9.5
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zackdollars2052d ago

Your down point about recycling is accurate, and really should have brought the score down a bit more (some of the water effects were from TR Anniversary, I can tell due to the ripples lacking animation). The graphics barely met expectations. There were some nice touches with the mural lighting, but no innovation (except for her hair). This was simultaneously developed for 360, so it is not a true next-gen game. (See this IGN video for comparison - http://www.ign.com/videos/2... is no way that this should get a 10 for graphics. (Graphics is not art design, by the way).

Valenka2046d ago (Edited 2046d ago )

Well, that's your opinion. :)

I don't think Rise of the Tomb Raider's graphics could have been any better than they were, which is why the graphics themselves earned the highest score possible. We'll see how the third game looks. I am well aware that graphics are not considered art design, zackdollars.

Regarding your comment about how my point about recycling and copy/paste work should have brought the score down a bit more: I found those issues worth mentioning, but they didn't take away from the overall experience significantly. Which is why I gave the game a 9.5; I would have given it a 10 otherwise.

But that's just my opinion, as reflected in my review.

JMyers2039d ago

Great review. Completely agree with points on story elements and the rushed ending. A good read. Thanks.

robtion2051d ago

I enjoyed the game but to be honest I don't think it was as good as the 2013 reboot.

The setting and story were not as good (there was no real sense of mystery or discovery like in TR2013), and the story arc was so similar to the first game it bordered on ridiculous. The weapons are all the same, and as you mention there is just a lot of recycling. It just doesn't feel fresh like the original did.

The graphics are great, but not a big step up from the TR Definite Edition really. There are less set pieces, no damage to Lara or her clothing. The overall pacing is also not as good with too much backtracking.

I did like the added swimming, stealth, and rope.

8/10 from me. Still great but a bit disappointing as I loved the reboot (9/10 for the reboot).

Automatic792048d ago

I recently completed the game and not once did I feel there were copy and paste moments. The entire game had breath taking moments, very good pacing, thrilling chapter closures and it finally brought back TombRaiding. My personal game of the year.

robtion2048d ago

Did you play the 2013 reboot? They were very similar. Not sure how you can say there were no cut and paste elements.

Don't get me wrong, this is still one of my favourite exclusives on xbox1 along with Sunset Overdrive, but it just wasn't as great as I expected it to be.

Valenka2046d ago (Edited 2046d ago )

Indeed, I was wondering the same thing. It'll be terribly easy to spot for anyone who played Tomb Raider (2013) with at least one eye open.

Obviously, I found Rise of the Tomb Raider to be pretty spectacular, hence giving it the score I did. I just needed to address what I experienced as an issue in my own review, like anyone would, really.

- Spoiler Alert -

To be honest, the copy and paste moments were not THAT big of a deal, except for the issue where toward the end when Lara is heading for the Divine Source and the Deathless Ones are running around like hellions, it was terribly obvious that it was a copy and paste job from Tomb Raider (2013) with Lara trying to get to Queen Himiko and the Oni are running around. Literally, the same exact thing, and anyone with functional retinas who've played Tomb Raider (2013) can see that.

I personally found that to be lazy and uninspired.

maybelovehate2047d ago

Good review. Although I think the copy and paste bits aren't very relevant. Do you get mad that Jennifer Laurence has the same animations in her movies? No, well maybe if you hate her haha. Lara is an actor, the world is a location, nothing wrong with reusing these elements at all.

Valenka2046d ago (Edited 2046d ago )

Using real actors against programmed, computer generated imagery couldn't be further from a relevant comparison, maylovebehate. I think the copy and paste issues are relevant, not only with Tomb Raider but with any franchise that chooses to recycle animations, elements, themes, etc. It makes it hard to differentiate between original and sequel if the two are nearly identical.

I'm not saying Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider are identical, but there are enough similarities where someone who isn't a seasoned gamer wouldn't be able to tell which installment they were playing.

Jennifer Lawrence (and other Hollywood actors and actresses) are dynamic, real people. Their movements aren't 'animations' or programmed and you'd be hard pressed to find a real person make a move and then repeat that same move exactly the same as the first time. With computer programming, you can, obviously.

Forgive me, I don't mean to sound rude, I'm just at a loss for understanding as to why you'd compare a video game character to a real person in that regard.

maybelovehate2045d ago (Edited 2045d ago )

Jennifer Laurence is a real person. But in movies she is an actor. Actors are reused all the time, in fact it is almost guaranteed in sequels.

No one complains Jennifer Laurence looks the same, has the same expressions in Hunger Games. It is who that character is.

She changes it up depending on the movie, but if she is doing a sequel and playing the same character most things stay the same.

All I am saying, is that I don't think copying and pasting many elements when doing a sequel is unexpected or bad at all. You want to carry over many of those elements by design.

You want familiarity in many elements for continuity. If anything I could see how some people would be upset at how different Laura looks in every game.

DivineAssault 2045d ago

Such a good game from what ive read.. Unlike many who are boycotting this, im buying it on PS4..

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