Wot I Think: Rise Of The Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider [official site] expands on and improves the core pillars of the series’ 2013 reboot. What it doesn’t do is change the formula significantly. Lara Croft is still a young woman and we’re witnessing the process by which she will become the titular crypt corrupter. As in the previous game, she’s soon stranded in an unwelcoming environment with little in the way of equipment and no network of support. Over the next twenty hours or so, you’ll guide her from branch-gathering and hide-hunting to full-on military engagements and supernatural shenanigans. Here’s wot I think.

I’ve enjoyed playing Rise. In fact, I’ve been enjoying it so much that I didn’t do the sensible thing and rush through the plot so that I could write my review quickly. I scoured the two major hub areas for hidden tombs and trinkets, and I leveled up Lara’s language skills until I could read every scrap of parchment and monolithic signpost in the game. Crystal Dynamics have made a world that I want to scour, mostly to see all of the fine details and lovely artifacts rather than to harvest upgrades and experience points.

If you haven’t been following the pre-release (and post Xbone-release) press, you might be slightly confused about the notion of “leveling up language skills”. By reading documents written in various languages, Lara increases her understanding of that particular language, meaning she can read trickier murals and the like later in the game. It’s a preposterous idea that works well enough if you simply accept that she’s piecing together pieces of very specific isolated idiosyncratic variants based on language groups she already understands perfectly.

That’s not how the game frames it and one of the languages is simply Russian, Soviet-era, which doesn’t fit in with the idea of isolated variants. But it’s typical of the game’s slightly confused collection of elements, that sense of having to accommodate ridiculous ideas into a framework that leans heavily on graphical fidelity and a realist approach to this kind of action-adventure.

The survivalist streak is at the heart of that. Tomb Raider didn’t convince me that the gritty hunter-gatherer approach would ever fit comfortably with the more awe-inspiring and shooty-kill elements of the series. Rise doesn’t do anything to persuade me otherwise. Early in the game, you’re starring in The Revenant, bear attack and all. Kill that bear and you’ve got a hide that you might go toward that ammo pouch you’ve always wanted.

You’ll gather wood and feathers to make arrows, and crouch by campfires. I shivered in sympathy such is the quality of the animations that communicate Lara’s misery. She limps, stumbles, drags herself along the floor, cowers and flinches. There’s not quite as much suffering as in the 2013 game, which added the horror of Lara’s First Murder to the pile, but movements through hazardous and claustrophobic environments are wince-inducing.

Again, the astonishing craft that has gone into making Lara act (and react) like an actual human being is at odds with the cartoonish nature of the trials she survives. Nearly killed by the weather one day, the next she’s absorbing bullets and bouncing off frozen cliff faces as she tumbles toward the game’s climax. For all the collectible distractions and possibilities to slow the pace in the hub areas, Rise is a game of forward momentum. Lara stumbles into trouble and keeps on running and gunning until she gets to the other side.

Thankfully, the running and gunning is a damn sight better this time around. There are plenty of opportunities to sneak through groups of enemies, perhaps striking from the shadows (or stealth bushes) as you go. I’ve also enjoyed crafting explosives and molotovs mid-combat, grabbing bits of tat from the vicinity and converting them into improvised weapons. I could do without the armoured infantry that show up later on because they’re both frustrating to fight and another example of that clash between the game’s fidelity and its actual mechanics. But I’m at peace with the extensive firefights, which eventually drove me away from the reboot. I’d still rather spend my time solving environmental puzzles and raiding tombs, and the combat occurs at intervals that are too predictable, but I’m not entirely dismayed when the shooting starts.

And, yes, there are more tombs to raid this time around. Even some of the main plotlines focus on big ol’ underground chambers and the puzzles therein. There are three types of location to discover in the hubs – caves, crypts and tombs. They’re essentially tiers, with caves at the bottom, providing a few basic resources and, often enough, a fight with an animal or pack of animals. Crypts contain relics and run a little deeper underground. Tombs contain a central puzzle and some delightful and varied scenery to gawp at.

The best of the tombs are the ones concealed within the world. You’ll see what appears to be an incidental background detail, a ruined tower or cleft in a cliff, and think nothing of it. Try to get closer though and the telltale sound of chimes informs you that there’s an entrance nearby. So does the big ol’ tooltip that appears on the screen, sadly, but it’s possible to make your way toward many of the tombs before the pointers appear.

In terms of puzzles, there’s generally one per tomb. These are not gargantuan structure. Or at least, the’re not gargantuan in the sense that they contain elaborate machinery. You’ll cause water levels to rise and fall, and move crates from one place to another. Mostly, the puzzles are about moving from one part of a room to another, using machinery and movable elements to create a path. They’re satisfying, never overly challenging, and tied to a single solution.

What’s disappointing is how little they draw from the stunning backdrops. Some of the locations are absolutely beautiful, with a sense of scale that’s lacking in the main areas of the game. Whatever set dressing makes up the tomb, it rarely informs the design of the actual playable area though, which is a shame.

There’s a faint Metroidvania vibe, with some tombs only explorable once mid- and late-game equipment has been unlocked. That mostly affects the entrances though, which I appreciated. You won’t find yourself in an unsolveable room because it’ll be impossible to enter unless you have all the tools you need to progress once you’re inside.

If you were truly devoted to the game, you’d be able to unlock loads of different weapons (often found piecemeal, hidden in locked containers), every skill on the three separate trees (they’re often buffs for abilities rather than entirely new ones) and carry enough ammunition to wage a war. And on the latter point, the disappointing truth is that you will have to wage a war. There are tombs and there are artifacts, yes, but the central story becomes one of resistance and guerrilla warfare rather than discovery and awe.

That shift didn’t work for me and nor did the majority of the plot beats, which repeat the previous game’s structure far too neatly. There’s some fun reworking of the legend of Kitezh, which is the game’s central ‘treasure’, but the people of the Prophet who take on the role of noble native have all the comfortable tattooed ethnicity of a gang of backpackers who’ve decided to form a commune. They’re predictably dull, which leaves Lara’s reaction to them and the spiritual/supernatural revelations to carry most of the weight.

She’s a likeable character on the whole, though burdened with many of the father issues that might have worked as a cross on Indy’s shoulders if The Last Crusade hadn’t actually introduced Jones Sr. And if it hadn’t had a sense of humour. As the final credits rolled, it’s a sense of fun or joy that I felt the game had lacked.

There’s very little to laugh about in Rise of the Tomb Raider. This is serious business – magical artifacts, hammy villains, super-secret high-tech military organisations and all – and even when there’s a discovery worthy of wild celebration, the response is muted because of all that serious business. And because people are being massacred left, right and centre.

Story-wise, Rise continues on the reboot’s path of touching on ideas about invading powers stealing and destroying cultural artifacts, and indeed entire cultures. Less, “It belongs in a museum” and more “We don’t belong here at all, our museums are big theft-vaults, and we should leave the quiet corners of the world well alone”. Lara is driven to explore and expose though, which leads to a conflict between the post-colonial awareness that culture cannot be appropriated and placed in a box, and the actual essence of tomb raiding.

In the end, the story fails to reconcile the character’s various ambitions, and after all the questioning is done and the piles of bodies have been swept away, the necessity of people like the Crofts – rich outsiders who push and probe – remains. They are the new enlightenment, bringing their knowledge (and thirst for more knowledge) to the hidden parts of the world, only bothering to check if there’s a good reason to be hidden after the fact.

I’m not convinced any of that matters. All of the individual elements are enjoyable and much-improved. But the game certainly thinks that the story matters and it eventually becomes detrimental. When it comes to the shooting, the exploration and the collecting, however, Rise of the Tomb Raider is extremely accomplished. It’s also a gorgeous game, one that does both the bigger environmental shots and the exquisite details well. On a PC capable of pushing it to its highest settings (and it covers a wide range of machines thanks to a decent set of visual options), it’s one of the most attractive games I’ve ever seen. I wish there were more variety in the locations to show off the splendor of the engine and art design.

This is not a globe-trotting game and that’s another part of the stranded survivalism that I find irritating – you’re trapped in a single location for most of the running time, though it is a location with an explicable change of climate midway through the game. It’s not all snow and ice.

By the muddy, bloody end I was dreaming of the globe-trotting escapades of Uncharted. Drake and co might be too smug and convinced of their own charms, but I enjoy their company. Lara’s likeable when she’s facing preposterous odds and taking down mercenary armies with a snarl of defiance, but as soon as the action slows down and she starts to look inward, she doesn’t even seem to enjoy her own company.

Rise is a strong and confident step forward for the new series, but I’m still unconvinced it’s heading in a direction that I particularly like. This new Lara Croft is in danger of becoming a character constantly in the act of becoming something with no clear idea of how to portray that thing once she arrives. When all of the rising was done, she still felt like a heroine in search of a setting and plot that draw on her strengths rather than her struggles, and for all that forward momentum the game is a spectacular journey that fails to reach a fulfilling destination.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is out tomorrow for Windows.

87 Comments

  1. Cinek says:

    That screenshot where she’s about to throw something? 4th from the bottom.

    Looks like a screenshot from some new Beavis and Butthead game with a pissing contest. Just missing a dead body there, or some old lady passing by…

  2. gbrading says:

    Cool, glad it sounds like a decent PC version and a decent game overall. I look forward to playing it, probably around the end of the year when the price has come down a bit.

    • welverin says:

      Don’t know what constitutes a bit for you, but if 27% off counts for you, you could try this now 27RISE-OFTOMB-RAIDER at Green Man Gaming. It’s good for both versions of the game.

      • internisus says:

        Damn, wish I had known about that before I got it on Steam. I’m not sure I want to go through the refund process to buy it again elsewhere, though.

      • internisus says:

        I decided to go through with it after all and basically got the season pass for five bucks with the discounted deluxe edition. Thanks for the tip!

        • welverin says:

          You’re welcome. Now that you’ve bought something from them, and assuming you don’t opt out, you’ll get emails from them with deals. I pretty much get everything new through them now.

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          john_silence says:

          I find Gamesplanet quite good too, while being more legit than Ukrainian cd keys resellers. They’re more or less aligned with GMG’s prices, in euros at least, and their discounts run well beyond launch without variation (GMG’s codes fluctuate – sometimes it’s 20%, sometimes 25%…).

          GMG’s VIP section is good once you get access to it – no idea what the threshold is, sorry – it’s a little section with 5 to 10 games discounted deeper than on the main site. Don’t worry though, Rise isn’t part of it at the moment so you didn’t miss an even better deal :)

      • tronny2016 says:

        go to instantgaming for £25 or even cdkeys, better than gmg its not that cheap…look forward to playing it tomorrow

        • nrvsNRG says:

          +1
          cdkeys is my go to site for every game now, has been for ages… and yes, its totally legit (in case you’re the worrying sort), well designed, and has great support if needed.

        • Psychomorph says:

          Thanks for the tip to look it up on IG, guess I won’t have to wait for a price drop on Steam.

  3. DarkLiberator says:

    Glad to hear the PC port is good, Tomb Raider 2013 ran so well as well.

  4. anHorse says:

    I really liked the reboot of tomb raider, felt that they got the length spot on even if it all went a bit silly at the end.

    Not buying this though because they’ve added in Denuvo

    • Luciferous says:

      Can I ask why that would be a deterrent? Unless by ‘buy’ you meant ‘acquire in a less than legal fashion’?

      It runs buttery smooth and so far I haven’t come across a single hitch that could be related to Denuvo being used.

  5. Gwilym says:

    Games really like their civilian massacres, don’t they?

    It’s weird thinking back to that old Shell Shock ‘Nam game: constant atrocity was its defining feature and selling point. Now it’s pretty much mandatory, regardless of genre or setting. Even the “No Russian” content warning seems kind of quaint.

    • Gwilym says:

      It must be pretty fun for the voice actors who get to do lots of desperate begging and screaming all of a sudden. Possibly even cathartic

      • Gwilym says:

        Can RPS please do an investigation into the emotional effect this ultrableak trend is having on the average voice actor? I feel like lots of them must end up with either inner peace or night terrors

        • TechnicalBen says:

          It’s certainly something that put me off games. It’s no longer running through Pyramids, keeping the wolves at bay. It’s taking out villages (Farcry? etc).

          Movies have followed a similar trend. Oh there were always action movies. But now you have to destroy at least one entire city and/or planet to beat the trend.

          • horrorgasm says:

            Oh yeah, the infamous Far Cry ? where you are forced to kill entire villages of civilians. Man, I sure hate that one and all the games of its kind, whose names I conveniently can’t think of.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            Yes. The latest far cry. Primal.
            Game go from fighting off the enemy, the attack. To extreme violence on anyone.

            The second also had villages. Who’s only occupants were armed.

            No idea about the third.

            Other series have gone from stealth and alternatives being an option, to them being really hard, to being an afterthought, to being taken out all together.

            Others have started (though arguably thinly) tactical on hostage rescue and police deployment to later go full out deathmatch online only. :P

            While older games were fanciful, with aliens and dinosaurs, those that were different still stood out. Now it seems more and more are about killing as photorealistic people as possible.

            I mean, does anyone ever stop to think, should we be killing them, even in the fictional/non-fictional contexts that are presented.

  6. Kefren says:

    Do you have to go hunting animals, or can you complete it without doing that? (I.e. are they just so you can get a purse +1 without her using her Daddy’s credit card at Harrods?)

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      Adam Smith says:

      There is a bit of necessary hunting but it’s minimal. There are also ‘When Animals Attack’ moments that require a defensive kill.

      • Kefren says:

        Thanks Adam.

        • Silarn says:

          I’ll note that you’ll also frequently get the hides/skins necessary to craft upgrades merely by scavenging resource caches and other hidden/semi-hidden boxes and things. I’m not sure it’s actually necessary to hunt to get even a decent number (if not all) upgrades. But predatory wildlife will occasionally attack, as stated.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Not to judge. But what makes killing the people different from killing the animals? Should not killing the people also have an effect?

      • Kits says:

        People can choose to pick up a weapon and fight you, or not. Animals do not get that choice. They go about their business in their natural habitat, then get hunted so you can carry a handful more arrows.
        Honestly I do not much feel sorry for people if they decide to get involved and end up dead as a result. But it is always depressing when killing an animal of any kind is unavoidable.

        • Dale Winton says:

          Its just a game , its not real

          • Kits says:

            Perhaps. It does not change the reasoning though.
            It is harder to see animals hurt, because they are innocent. Also adorable.

          • minkiii says:

            So what if it is not real. I wouldn’t want to shoot a digital baby either.

        • silentdan says:

          In Assassin’s Creed (I think it was Black Flag, but might have been Rogue) I had to get TWO blue whales in order to craft … a pistol holster. That holster probably weighed about six ounces, while the two whales together would’ve been over 350 metric tonnes. I’m forced to assume that the holster is infused with their noble, tortured souls, because there’s no way any physical material from the second whale was needed.

        • Silarn says:

          I get where people are coming from here, and I certainly am no hunter in real life myself. But I think the game setting makes a reasonable argument for Lara to do a little hunting (though does arguably silently promote going on a massacre for Upgrade Bits, though this is largely unnecessary due to resource caches and other scavenging available).

          Lara is portrayed as being more or less on her own in the wilderness for a significant portion of the game, and even when there is a bit of civilization that comes into play it’s still close to the hunter-gatherer level. So hunting is a necessity for survival here.

          All that said, I appreciate that wolf packs act somewhat realistically. They will retreat to a den if you kill one out in the open and don’t just suicidally throw themselves at you. You’d have to maniacally chase them into their den. Spooked deer/stags may charge you if they have no other avenue of escape, but will immediately flee afterward.

      • Kefren says:

        That’s a fair question, TechnicalBen, and deserves a fair answer. In real life I don’t kill people or animals.

        For me the killing of humans in most games is just ridiculous – no-one really acts as a one-man/woman army killing hundreds of armed mercenaries, often for ridiculous reasons. I find it impossible to take seriously. Though I don’t play war games because it’s sometimes got a teeny bit too much resemblance to real life.

        The killing of animals tends to be a lot more believable, reminds me a lot more of real world values I don’t share, so it would put me off some games. Just be another busy-work task I don’t want to do. Games have to earn my time, there are so many.

        It’s just me. Nothing radical. I don’t care what happens in the games. I just want to spend my time and money on ones I’ll enjoy, and vice versa.

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          gritz says:

          I agree, well said.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          Thanks for the reply. :)

          I agree with the feelings the games create. So can relate to those comments.

          It’s something that has put me off, not just the killing of animals in games, but the killing of people.

          Games are games, and chess is chess. But the fidelity of these recent titles has started to take that a step into the uncanny valley of dare I say, morals.

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        gritz says:

        Killing animals as an abstract game element doesn’t bug me so much as killing animals so that you can “craft upgrades” out of their dead bodies. There’s something morbid and upsetting about it that I have a hard time articulating.

        Killing humans in games is often rewarded- but it’s pretty rare (and upsetting) that you kill a person in a game and then make something out of their dead bodies.

        • Dale Winton says:

          Well in real life quite a lot of things are made out of dead animals but not dead humans so it’s just a case of art imitating life

          • Premium User Badge

            gritz says:

            Just like I can enjoy a nice cheeseburger but don’t have any desire to slaughter and butcher a cow.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Yup. Imagine if all the non-aggressive animals in Far Cry 3 were replaced with innocent people, and you were expected to harvest their skins to make a bigger wallet. I know I would find that pretty off-putting.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            Somewhat related: I would love to play a game warden/ranger sim. Risking life and limb to protect beautiful endangered creatures. Those guys are real heroes./sincerity

  7. Laurentius says:

    I don’t know. I mean I liked TR reboot, it was not a good TR game but as a action game it was solid and combat was really good once you got that’s the game main focus now. So this game has better tombs and some puzzles, that’s cool but the rest looks pretty much the same? Story is again pretty bad and game is just re-skinned Uncharted with better (?) combat ? I am ok with that but I don’t see these massive improvements. I probably pick it on the sale next year or something.

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      Adam Smith says:

      Main improvements are in the variety of possible approaches to combat, with much better environments for fighting, sneaking and outsmarting enemies. And the design of the hub areas makes them much more interesting to explore. In fact, it is mostly stuff that’d come under the umbrella ‘level design’ if the game were neatly divided into levels. The environments allow you to plot your way through them, whether that’s a case of distracting and killing enemies, or attaching ziplines and clambering across rocks.

    • silentdan says:

      “not a good TR game but as a action game it was solid”

      QFT. I’d have enjoyed TR 2013 twice as much if it weren’t called Tomb Raider and the heroine weren’t named Lara Croft.

  8. SanguineAngel says:

    Completely Off Topic but:

    Mainly what I have taken from this article is that I would REALLY DIG a semi-archaeological action adventure game that focussed more on unravelling some (reality grounded) mysteries of the past and less on the shooting of baddies. Action puzzle set pieces, environmental interaction, smart characters and dialogue, engaging storyline in parallel, and sure – maybe one or two tense physical encounters. No hordes of enemies to gun down. No mythical beings coming to life.

    I like the sound of Adam’s version of the language mechanic and conveying the historical story through varied pieces of evidence would be rather exciting! There could be legitimate globe trotting as you stitch bits and pieces together.

    Entwining a more conventional (though less computer games kill hordes of baddies) story with the player’s discovery of an ancient one. By the end of the game, you’d have completed the storyline and be left with all the evidence you gathered to piece together a private interpretation of the archaeology.

    Not really THIS game though. More on topic: I quite liked the last one but I wouldn’t say it was spectacular. Might pick this one up cheap too but certainly not a high priority.

  9. jonahcutter says:

    Still sounds like way too much shooty, not nearly enough exploring and puzzles for me. That’s what made Tomb Raider special, amd why I stalled out midway through the reboot as well.

    It would of been excellent to find some way of dealing with the dichotomy of the basic good principles of enlightenment thinking (quest for more knowledge and understanding) with its often monstrous results of murder, theft, etc. Admittedly, that’s a difficult subject to handle, much less build a fun game about raiding/exploring those tombs around it. Still, I would of rather seen a well-intentioned but imperfect attempt at that, rather than a primarily action-shooter with a side helping of tombs (though at least more than the reboot itself).

    Maybe at some point in the future, Lara could be sneaking and exploring her way back into tombs to replace stolen treasures. And scavenging materials to rebuild the traps on her way back out, to keep out future raiders. Flip the old gameplay formula on its head.

    And set right what she’s made wrong.

    (She could even take out the occasional squad of mercenaries still, but at least flip the balance of gameplay away from it.)

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      john_silence says:

      Putting the loot back in its place… This is inspired. Like a new take on the loot-heavy RPGs and exploration genre. It’s a great idea.

      Maybe it’s too literal but it would work towards resolving the post-colonial/conquistador contradiction Adam’s so eloquently carved out in the WIT; a pretty catastrophic case of ludonarrative dissonance that will put me off this game for now. Aren’t we weary of the pandering to imbeciles that prevents a game like this from following the natural course of its main theme?
      Not saying I don’t enjoy the shooting, hunting, raiding mechanics of a Far Cry for instance, but I would trade all that in a heartbeat for a game that feels like it hasn’t sold its soul. It’s the law of big-budget development, but once in a while a studio manages to combine gameplay and narrative meaningfully and it feels like an elevating experience.
      Or flat-out doesn’t bother and dispenses with the seriousness and you’ve got NOLF or Bulletstorm. Games that brim with unexpected emotional impact because of how offhandedly they approach situations. A good laugh will make you cry better.

    • po says:

      Lara Croft: Dungeon Keeper.

    • Boozebeard says:

      If you spend the time, like I did, collecting most of the collectables and doing all the optional puzzles the game is extremely exploration heavy actually. Especially in the first half/two-thirds. Inevitably gets more action heavy towards the climax but I actually advised a friend against buying it because they were mostly interested in the combat and while a lot of the exploration and survivaly stuff is optional it would also mean skipping a huge chunk of game time.

  10. Josh W says:

    I’ve always found it weird how Lara Croft manages to do without a consistent face shape! It’s peculiar, as they have so many talented people working on model design, and yet perhaps because of that, the result swings wildly beyond the limits of variation you’d expect within a single person. You can look at a screenshot of Lara’s head and just as easily assume it’s a side character in the story as the main one.

    It reminds me of comics, where people seem to tolerate vast amounts of face morphing despite detailed linework and texture in other areas.

    I read an article about it, where they were claiming that they were aiming for more consistency, but it’s one thing to look at the whole history of a character and decide what you currently think best represents that history, and actually trying to keep it similar to the last time! That’s more what you do when you want justification and “textual” backup for your re-imagining, rather than what you do when you’re actually trying to develop a sense of consistency.

    I suspect if you gave the same designers the opportunity to alternate between different kinds of characters between games, different face shapes, body types etc. they’d probably make each character more consistent when they got back to working with them, because they’d have had much more chance to express their creative freedom.

    • minkiii says:

      That’s the first thing I thought as well. She just doesn’t look like Lara at all. I know graphics have changed, but she was born in the ‘good old days’ and back then had a really distinctive look. Surely there is a way to recreate that in high-res without loosing all her character?
      Part of me wonders if this is a possible negative side effect of gender politics. Maybe they are trying to get her to look “more human” of something, but the end result is she just becomes bland..?
      The guys who made Lara Croft GO get it, tho. She looked great in that game.

  11. internisus says:

    By the muddy, bloody end I was dreaming of the globe-trotting escapades of Uncharted.

    That’s funny; the best Uncharted game takes place almost entirely in a single region of the world, and it noticeably provides greater narrative coherence along with thematic, aesthetic, and even cultural identity.

    • Vandelay says:

      I recently picked up a PS4 with the Uncharted Collection and playing them for the first time. Only played 1 and 2 so far, but the second game was definitely significantly better than the first, partly due to the greater variety in its environments.

      I don’t know what the third has in store for me, but globe trotting seems to be an almost essential part to the aesthetics the series wants to emulate, even though it was absent from first game.

      • internisus says:

        Although I actually like the first game and the fact that it sticks to a single island, I’m actually talking here about how the second game mostly takes place in Nepal and Tibet.

        Uncharted 3 travels all over the world. I personally think that game is a mess. While the lack of a focused setting isn’t one of the main reasons for that, I did nonetheless very much miss the sense of identity I got from Uncharted 2, which feels like it is about Nepal/Tibet and its people to a certain extent. This gives it a bit more soul than the other games in the series.

        Speaking more broadly, I tend to prefer a narrative in games that sees me on a journey across a well-defined region rather than bouncing around disparate locations. I want to feel something like I could look over a hill and see the area where the last “level” took place—if I can’t see it outright, that is!

  12. Loopy says:

    I really enjoyed playing the first one recently for the first time after picking it up for an insanely cheap £2.24 in the Steam Christmas sale. This sounds like more of the same but with improvements so consider me sold on it, hopefully it’ll play nicely with the ATI R9 380 4GB I’ve just had delivered. :)

    • waltC says:

      Nice card…;) I got one, too.

      • Loopy says:

        The rest of my rig is a bit old, but the 5770 I’ve been using up until now coped very nicely with the previous game on high settings so I’m hopeful. :)

  13. Zenicetus says:

    Did they do away with the Quicktime events, or are they as bad as last time?

    Also, I wonder how many more times they can get away with having Lara climb up a fresh RPG skill ladder in this series. I mean, does she start off being a poor shot with bow and arrow in this game, after being Death Incarnate with a bow in the last one?

    I know it’s a tough problem for sequels. There is a bit of it in the Witcher series, with a level 1 Geralt at the beginning of Witcher 3 that can barely handle a group of lowly Drowners.

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      john_silence says:

      Quite!
      Btw The Witcher 2 was possibly an even worse offender than the third (haven’t played it yet); jumping from the end of the first one, with an amazing sense of progression as you end up single-handedly defeating a creature that had an entire band of witchers scrambling in the beginning as well as a minor deity, to an illogical sequel where you’ll get your ass handed to you by random grunts and lowly monsters – man, what a letdown!

    • Luciferous says:

      They were a bit clever in this with the skill tree stuff, competency wise Lara felt on par with how she left off TR2013, but like she’d been out of the game for a bit.

      I do archery as a hobby and I can attest to what happens when you don;t do it for three months.

      She also gets herself stranded with very little gear so the tools she has are once again basic, but from the moment you have to engage in combat she has the feel of someone whose remembering old reactions and there is very little wobble in her aim, especially as she regains (dumps points in to anti-wobble) strength she can hold her bow more steady at full draw for longer.

      She also quickly gains new tools that she didn’t have before, so whilst it is climbing a skill tree again it feels more like a recap and continuation rather than a full do-over.

  14. Scelous says:

    There’s a lot of shooting? Good. I could never get into the tomb raider series until this last reboot. Absolutely loved it and am ready for some more.

    • Zaxwerks says:

      There’s a lot of shooting? Bad. I really loved the Tomb Raider series until this last reboot. Wasn’t that keen on it and am not ready for some more.

      …actually the shooting was a lot better than all previous games, but it was made the main focus of the game and became very repetitive. I enjoyed Tomb Raider for the, you know, TOMB RAIDING, but the 2013 game’s tombs were pathetic and there was only 7 little mini-tombs with a single puzzle each in the entire game. Looks like even though there are more tombs they are still optional and single puzzle.

      Tomb Raider used to be my favorite series which I’d have to buy the moment they were released, now I’ll waiting until it’s £20 or less in a Steam sale. Tomb Raider has become the love-child of Uncharted and Far Cry’s collectables/crafting. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

  15. Michael Fogg says:

    >>> the people of the Prophet who take on the role of noble native have all the comfortable tattooed ethnicity of a gang of backpackers

    It seemed so weird to me that those guys looked nothing like you’d expect from indigenous Syberians and the leader Jacob was a trendy coat and beard man straight of a London street.

    Aside from that, again, a competent but generic almost on-rails 3rd person action game. If only the publisher had the balls to put those resources (and immense audio-visual talent) to something more creative, like an open world survival game. Not to mention how much better that would suit the character of Lara (more so than the constant manslaughter). And they complain already that it’s not selling to their liking…

    • Luciferous says:

      They aren’t native Siberians. Their descendants followed the prophet from Constantinople/Byzantium and mostly consisted of Grecians… Pretty much exactly like Jacob and his people look… The only thing I find troubling is their command of the English language.

  16. MisterFurious says:

    The more realistic they make games look, the more ridiculous all these old video game tropes and mechanics become. Things like pulling weapons and ropes out of thin air, shooting ropes with arrows, finding journals and tape recordings strewn about all over the place, doors that open by pressing a button up near the ceiling that you have to stack crates to get to, breaking barrels to find loot and so on. That was all fine in the old 8-bit and 16-bit days but now it’s all really silly.

    • horrorgasm says:

      Playing as a god, or a spaceman, or an alien, or an invincible woman who can retry every scenario no matter how many times she dies, etc. etc. etc., that’s fine though.

  17. popej says:

    Is it possible to fall off things or does it do the uncharted thing? That’s one of the things I miss from the original TR’s.

    • jgthespy says:

      It sounds funny when you say it that way but I totally agree.

      Climbing around in Uncharted was so mindless and boring. Just hold a direction and keep pushing a button. It’s almost as bad as Assassin’s Creed’s hold a direction and hold a button.

      Climbing around in Tomb Raider has always been meticulous. It was a major game mechanic rather than filler between gun fights. THE major game mechanic really. I can’t remember how it worked in the reboot though. I do remember feeling like it was a spinoff rather than a continuation of the series but that may have had more to do with how much violence there was.

      • popej says:

        I’m glad I’m not alone. I remember my head used to swim when I was playing the first 2 games all those years ago. The risk of death by falling was always there and it absolutely contributed to the experience.

  18. vorador says:

    Man, it’s kinda sad that the game absolutely tanked on Microsoft console, seeing that is pretty good game. Hopefully it does well enough on PC.

    • Unsheep says:

      I’m quite skeptical of that, I think most gamers want a Tomb Raider game that plays more like the old ones. Rise of the Tomb Raider is a very pretty game to look at, but its not that interesting to play compared to the classics.

  19. lglethal says:

    Hi Adam,

    Quick question – I got this game with my new video card. Do I need to have played the first of the new reboot series to get the storyline in this one? Or am I cool to just jump in blind? (well as blind as you can be with a Lara Croft story… ;) )

  20. Premium User Badge

    garfieldsam says:

    “It’s a preposterous idea that works well enough if you simply accept that she’s piecing together pieces of very specific isolated idiosyncratic variants based on language groups she already understands perfectly.”

    Perfect example of headcannon. I know the feeling.

    • Silarn says:

      I don’t know if that reasoning is actually that far off from the intent… because it’s pretty obvious Lara has at least some understanding of the language, or she wouldn’t be able to read anything at all. Even if your language ‘level’ isn’t high enough, the dialogue suggests she kinda sorta can read it but doesn’t understand the whole message. And then later finally pieces it together after reading several more excerpts of that language elsewhere.

      She does not start off reading ‘Russian and Greek: 101’.

  21. Unsheep says:

    As pretty as this games is, there’s still too much shooting and survival stuff, and far too little exploration, adventure, puzzles and dungeoneering. The older Tomb Raider games are still more fun and interesting to play for me.

  22. BB Shockwave says:

    I just look at the new Lara games and laugh. Seriously, you had to take Lara Croft of all people and turn her into a grimdark realistic story? She raids tombs and fighty mystical curses! What’s next, make Super Mario realistic? Oh wait that was already tried in that movie…

    • cunningmunki says:

      Dennis Hopper as Bowser. So other movie villain has come close.

  23. cunningmunki says:

    I hope I get to senselessly murder hundreds of people like I did in the first one. And have my controller regularly snatched from my hands, that was my favourite bit.

  24. Minglefingler says:

    I was intending to play the game with little or no use of survival instincts, to figure out things for myself you know, like in old Tomb Raider games. It seems that the game doesn’t want be to do this as I’m continually getting whacked over the head with prompts to activate survival instincts, it’s every few seconds in an area with a puzzle. Very annoying and I can’t see a way to turn if off.

  25. Blake Casimir says:

    Am I the only one out there that utterly loathes these new “Tomb Raider” games?

    CD did well with Legend, Anniversary and Underworld. They felt like “remasters” that kept the core (ho ho) gameplay but spruced up the visuals and improved the control scheme.

    The new reboots do not feel like Tomb Raider games. They feel like Uncharted starring Lara Croft who dies a lot in many ostensibly gruesome ways with sickening closeups (the original games just left the camera looking at Lara with the equivalent of “game over” popping up, the new games are tremendously gratuituous), poor characterisation, irritating quick time events, a generic quest system that was never present in the older games, and so on.

    Sure, there’s some “Tomb Raiding” present, but the “mainstreamisation” of the game ruins it for me.

    • toxicfiend1957 says:

      you are right but by the same token if it was to continue on the same path it can get boring.Star trek was my fave sci-fy as a kid and i mean the original series with the Shat but i have loved the re-boot through the movies.And so it is with tomb raider the first game on the PS was just AWESOME but not all that followed was good and over time ways change and i loved the 2013 game and look forward to seeing what they have done with this one and first and for-most the graphics are looking just awesome and yes looks don’t make a game but they are just a start and i look forward to getting in to the meaty part of this game.

  26. Det. Bullock says:

    But other than the baba yaga one there aren’t really other single player DLCs coming, are they?
    Because the season pass blurb on steam only talks about cards, costumes and other multiplayer nonsense.

  27. Psychomorph says:

    I do hate the new approach, yet I play because I love adventurous stuff. I wanted to not buy this, but I crave for some exploration platforming, so I had to take what few there is. I already know I will hate the combat part.

    Truth to be told, if this game wont sell and Square cancels the series, I wont cry, I will cheer and hope that some day there will be a proper Tomb Raider reboot/sequel.

  28. Premium User Badge

    Phasma Felis says:

    The “leveling up languages” mechanic doesn’t sound any sillier than leveling/XP mechanics in general, where you can go from a novice to the most powerful warrior in the world in a matter of hours by killing things and getting “experience.” This somehow doesn’t work for all the veteran soldiers that you’re easily dispatching. Also, in many games, your “experience” in stabbing dudes with a sword can be applied towards suddenly knowing how to throw lightning bolts or hack computers. But we’ve gotten used to all that in the context of combat skills…

  29. eclipse mattaru says:

    Hm. Kind of lost me at “armoured infantry”. In the first one I tried to go as long as I could with just the bow because the increasingly ludicrous military armament seemed out of place to me, and I hated that I was pretty much forced to resort to all the big boom-boom crap in the later stages.