Monday, August 01, 2016

Tech: Rise of the Tomb Raider review



A few years ago, Crystal Dynamics rebooted the "Tomb Raider" video game series to critical acclaim and good (but not great) sales numbers. Still, revising an iconic character is always risky, so I gave the reboot high marks back in 2013, even if some of the story and gameplay decisions fell flat.

The second game in the reboot series, "Rise of the Tomb Raider," was released late last year for the Xbox One/PC and is hitting the PS4 in October, so it's as good a time as any to review it. In this one, Lara travels to Siberia in search of a magical McGuffin sought by her late father. Unfortunately, Lara's not alone; a mysterious paramilitary organization called Trinity is also after the artifact, and they'll kill anyone in their way.

THE GOOD

Open World - The Lara Croft version of Siberia is riddled with entertaining environments. You'll scamper through old Soviet mining shafts, Byzantine monuments, and precarious mountain faces, all of which hide plenty of optional tombs and side areas that will test your platform and puzzle skills. It's a proper Tomb Raider experience, and one of the few games where I've felt the need to track down optional content after I completed the story.

Excellent Graphics - On a reasonably powerful PC (GeForce GTX 970, Core i7-4790 @ 3.6 GHz), "Rise of the Tomb Raider" looks fantastic. The set piece reveals are predictably jaw-dropping, but I was really impressed by the ambient fire and weather effects; Lara is near a fire or being hit by a blizzard 90% of the time in this game, and it always looked believable.

THE BAD

More of the Same - If you played the 2013 reboot, you've seen most of the tricks that this game has. Prince of Persia/Uncharted style climbing, stealthy bow-and-arrow sections...it'll feel pretty familiar. There are some new skills, craftable items, and mechanics, but by and large, this is the same stuff.

Stagnant Combat - The game's default enemies, Trinity soldiers, are pretty aggressive and smart, but they're pretty much all you fight, aside from the odd wolf. Whatever happened to T. Rexes and snowmobile riders?

Rating: 87/100

P.S. - I am not sure how they got Karen O to do an ending theme, but it's absolutely perfect for the game:

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