Rise of the Tomb Raider indeed.
Late last year, Xbox One owners had the chance to check out Lara Crofts latest adventure. From reading our previous review, Ken obviously really enjoyed his time with it and so did I. A chance to actually see Lara becoming a tomb raider in the making. It had all the core elements that made the last entry a success but yet harkened back to some of the feelings the original games gave you. Now, only a few months later, PC players are able to take Lara on the adventure of a lifetime, and see how she rises to her heritage and the Tomb Raider we know and love.
For those that didn’t follow the release on Xbox One, Lara is now in a deadly game of treasure seeking. She actively knows that her father was close to a great discovery of a lifetime for years, the name Croft even mocked by professionals, and her father called crazy by most. After she personally saw things she would have never believed possible in Tomb Raider, she is now a firm believer in these historical and strange events that most do not understand nor want to. This pushes her to continue her father’s work in the hopes of proving him right and restoring some dignity to the Croft name. It’s all a very suitable set up, and one provided fairly early on in the game as a flashback. It gives weight to the story and her progression as a character. This is all following a completely beautiful and amazing opening sequence which I won’t spoil for players, but just be prepared as it immediately throws folks into a grand adventure.
Platforms: PC, XB1, 360
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
How long to beat: 15+ hours
The flashback moments are not just suited to cut scenes, and a tutorial type level is introduce as Lara finds herself discovering an ancient temple in Syria. This is where the game teaches the core mechanics and even introduces Lara’s ability to learn languages via finding documents or murals that only increase her ability to read later discoveries. It’s not absolutly necessary to progress in the game usually, but still adds to the feeling that players are discovering things and learning along with the level up system and collectibles from the prior entry. Once this area is complete, Lara is back to the current time and off to survive in a bitter winter storm. She is hardened from her prior events, she went into this full knowing what she was getting into, to include a race against the clock to discover the secrets before a rival company does, which ends up being the main antagonist of this entry. Again this reminds me of prior Tomb Raider games, but that feeling doesn’t stop there.
Lara will not only find and endure lots of folks on the bad guy’s payroll, but nature itself. Bears and wolves in particular, along with crumbling old temples and horrible conditions will all try to stop Lara from completing her journey. Tomb Raider introduced a lot of new ideas and changes to the franchise to many peoples dismay, but also with a lot of people finding a new breath of life in the franchise. Here we see a better combination of both. More elaborate side puzzles that envoke a sense of mystery and discovery versus the prior game that seemingly put these all off to the side and in small rooms. In Rise, every tomb has a unique area all to itself that is often beautiful, so not only are they worth experiencing, but also the visuals of each one offers some great vistas or locations to explore. The main campaign even features some nice puzzles that could stump players, but it offers more of these puzzle aspects then the first entry ever attempted.
Combat is once again more along the lines of high octane action when it occurs. There are plenty of chances to stealth past enemies then before, but ultimately Lara will be a force to be reckoned with and if that bothered players last time, this game won’t change that. I found the combat very satisfying and on the PC version it seems even snappier with the faster framerates. The platforming returns here with more opportunities for exploration then before with some huge open areas to explore and complete side quests in. These quests are not essential but offer more to do for players seeking to find and do everything.
Visually on PC things look even better and that’s a given. Granted sometimes when games are ported to PC from console, things suffer. Luckily Nixxes, who is no stranger to the porting of Tomb Raider games, have done a great job. I’ve always claimed that Rise of the Tomb Raider was a beautiful game on Xbox One and of course it still is, but the PC version just adds crispers details and better framerates then the console can, and provides the ultimate visual treat for players whose PCs that can handle it.
I’ve heard of some system performance issues depending on your setting and rig, but with my new ASUS gaming laptop, it ran fairly smooth most of the time will little dips here and there depending on what was occurring on screen. Input lag that is present on the Xbox one version to some capacity when aiming your weapons seems almost nonexistent to me on PC. I never noticed it much in my original play through of the Xbox One version, but after jumping between the two I could tell, but it still wouldn’t deter me personally from playing on the Xbox One version still if I didn’t have a decent PC option.
The Tomb Raider Difference
I loved my time with the original release and I soon found myself loving it all over again on PC. Rise of the Tomb Raider continues improving upon the new formula that was created in the last game, but here we feel that Lara really is becoming a tomb raider. While people who loved the originals and the moments of solitude and puzzle design still won’t find much of a reason to continue on with the series at this point, players that enjoyed the action and perhaps wanted a bit more spirit of the originals involved will be more than happy. Lara is growing as a character and as a game, with everything being either improved upon or expanded on. If puzzles, adventure, mystery, exploration, a race against time with an evil rival company sound exciting, and your PC can handle it, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a can’t miss experience.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.