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First Impressions: Rise of the Tomb Raider

Here we are in the heart of gaming season and in a rare occasion, gamers depending on their console situation, had to choose between 2 AAA titles on the same day and in less than a week after Call of Duty BLOPS III released. Some gamers have made the choice to grab Fallout 4 and others of us have also explained why they will wait to pick it up. So, since Rise of the Tomb Raider was on my list, let’s find out if this was worth skipping Fallout 4 for.

Presentation

This game takes place several years after Lara Croft’s first adventure in this rebooted series. She is following after her father’s footsteps on the trail of the Prophet’s tomb, which may hold the key to immortality. She comes up against a group called Trinity who is also looking for the same thing and will do everything in their power to stop her. What I really enjoyed about this game is that, similar to the last entry, Crystal Dynamics wastes no time thrusting you into the story. As a matter of fact, what was demoes for gamers at E3 is pretty much at the beginning as Lara is seeking a lost city before a major storm blows in. This game still has many of the nuances of the last title that made it exhilarating and exhausting to play. Lara, like her father has been discredited, her sanity has been questions but some of her friends are still willing quite literally to go to the ends of the earth to find the answers she seeks. How she comes out on the other side is anyone’s guess.

Graphics and sound

This game is still gorgeous as its predecessor. I was really impressed with the snow effects, (you will be playing in a lot of it for the first few hours) and even in the jungle areas that you see giving you a sense that it’s a wide open place. Because the newer systems are a bit more powerful than last generation’s it’s also worth noting that more work has been put into Lara’s facial expressions and clothing texture. It also allows for more varieties of villains to be added into the game. Furthermore, there is more wildlife to be hunted and more on that in a moment. To, reiterate, graphically, it’s impressive and to be honest with little animations giving the sense that Lara is cold it makes me shiver as well. This game immerses you as well as it did last round and it’s a good experience especially when you hear the wind howling, or gunshots being fired offscreen and so on. So far, I have not seen any major hiccups with the graphics but on very rare occasions, there may be a little bit of a framerate drop during cutscences.

Gameplay

If you were familiar with the controls with the last one, then gamers should have no problems fitting in and playing this one. This game has slightly tweaked the crafting system that will keep players foraging for materials to upgrade meaning you will be thrust into the role of helping Lara to survive rather than run and gun. This means all that fauna and small game running and flying is yours to take advantage of. The way you play has an impact on your score as well.   While there is no multiplayer component this time around, you can see your friends’ scores in comparison to yours throughout the game. Another addition is the ability to climb tress which was a sorely missed ability in the last one and while applaud Crystal Dynamics for including this feature, it’s not as fluid as Assassin’s Creed mode of getting around. The one best feature however is the fact that there are more puzzles to be completed and tombs to actually raid. This game brings back some of the basics that made the old school original such a hit. There are areas you won’t get to unless you have the right tools so players are encouraged to revisit certain areas later in the game and thankfully this time around instead of having to constantly rely on torches for light, Lara has glowsticks to get around in darkness. There are a few QTE that will test you as well and the deaths that she has when you mess up are brutal and so far nothing is quite as brutal as seeing her getting mauled by a bear. Also, as in the last game, Lara can rely on stealth to get around and can bypass tons of enemies just by being quiet or ambush them from the bush. The bow and arrow of course makes a return and can be upgraded in many ways that may have gamers making it their go to weapon only relying on heavier weapons as needed.

In conclusion, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a big hit. Crystal Dynamics took what worked last time and are giving players that same thrill as seen in the first game. I have very few minuses about this game and I really enjoy the fact that this game is brutally exhausting on Lara not just physically but mentally. This is the one big advantage that this game has over the Uncharted series.   Lara’s journey in both game really takes a toll on her development as a person as she plays and I think it does that in more ways than one. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Uncharted, but Nate’s journey is more about saving and depending on his friends along the way than casting a look at his character as a whole but that’s a story for another day. Another issue some will argue is that it’s a shame that Rise of the Tomb Raider is exclusive to the Xbox One with PS4 players having to wait a year to get this game but let’s be fair, PS players have had the luxury of 3 Uncharted games on the PS3. To be more to the point, at one time the Tomb Raider series as well was exclusive to the PSOne so at least let Microsoft have this. If you have the Xbox One and loved the last one, the choice is easy. You are going to get a game that sees a character grow in many ways and you get a first row seat to watch that shaping.

4.5 Poison Arrows out of 5

About Armand (1259 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill
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