The 2013 Tomb Raider story is essentially Lara Croft’s formative experience of adventure and hardship. I thought that game ended with Lara being the character we knew and loved.
I was wrong.
Having finished Rise of the Tomb Raider I now see the real Lara Croft.
The original PS1 games are beloved. I had a couple of them myself and really enjoyed them. But new Tomb Raider is far better than the originals ever were. The gameplay etc has obviously come in the preceding generations but that isn’t the most important aspect of this series. Perhaps more was added after I stopped playing them, but backstory and motivation didn’t seem to be a huge factor for Lara in the nineties. Now it’s at the forefront, with Lara a very well fleshed out character and so much more than triangular boobs. I understand why she does what she does and why she’s willing to go to such lengths.
I find myself disagreeing with her actually being a tomb raider, due to the negative connotations that titles brings with it. Yes she does take a lot of stuff but when it comes down to it the choices she makes are for the greater good. Of course a lot of it is for her and her family name but she isn’t selfish. A quick aside, I’m playing on PS4 so my copy comes with DLC. It’s well worth playing if you like to know more about things.
Gameplay wise, ‘Rise’ builds on what came before. In fact I suggest you just check out my review for Tomb Raider (it will open in another window), to get a good feel for it. The gameplay experience has been refined and is extremely well thought out. This is most obvious on the extremely well judged puzzles. I would occasionally get stuck on how to proceed but I never felt as though it was beyond me or that I’d need the internet. Think it through, look around, and the answer will come. Rise is very good at making you feel as though you’ve achieved something. There’s a fine line between feeling like I’m exploring and feeling like I’m wandering. That line is never crossed.
Combat works better this time around, perhaps mainly due to it being less jarring than it was in the first story. Lara still kills a lot of people, but with stealth a better option now it doesn’t always feel like she’s a one man army.
Further thought has been given to 100% progression. Pressing the touch pad button not only shows you where collectibles are but more importantly what is left to collect in the current area, and it’s all clearly marked. I collected everything in the first game and plan on doing the same here so this is very welcome.
There is one blot, and that’s how weapon upgrades are implemented. The selection isn’t a problem; it’s narrow but never feels restrictive. The issue is how new versions are accessed. I spent most of the story using the original weapons before realising that different versions could be chosen at base camps. It didn’t cause me any issues with enemies but it would have been nice to use the better stuff earlier.
The story itself zips along nicely with the odd surprise in store, some less obvious than others. Once again there’s a great balance, this time between story progression, set pieces, and general gameplay. Camilla Luddington is Lara. She’s posh but not annoyingly so. The various grunts and noises Lara makes can sometimes be a little eyebrow raising but overall it’s a great performance that further adds to her being a well-rounded character.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is a fantastic game, building on its predecessor in every way whilst hinting at what could come in the future. If Crystal Dynamics can make another entry that even matches this we’re in for a treat. I want to see more of Lara and her adventures. Hopefully next time PS4 users won’t have to wait an extra year for the privilege.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have a lot of collectibles to find.