“A somewhat decent game that offers nothing new in terms of gameplay or story.”
Despite growing up in the 90s I was thankfully a tad too young for Lara Croft’s pixilated, overly pointed chest to have any serious effect on me. Sure I mucked around with the original Tomb Raider games when they came out on the PS1; I remember locking poor Winston into the freezer to die and that there was a level with a tiger that was apparently really hard, but other than that I never really played the games during their initial run of titles. So when the series was rebooted in the early 2010’s I came upon it with fresh eyes and was met with a game that was pretty decent but not really mind blowing.
Due to a plethora of other games at the time and its unusual release schedule I initially gave the 2015 sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, a miss. But now with the third game officially announced I thought that I should give the series another try just in case I was misremembering my time with the first game.
Turns out that my opinion of the rebooted franchise has remained pretty much the same, Rise of the Tomb Raider is pretty decent, but little else.
This was the first game I played after my several week stint in the world of Persona 5 so I probably attacked it harder than I should have, which probably explains why I completed the game in just two sessions. But, with my speediness aside, I was not completely taken by the game as a whole, in fact even with its short length I was rather bored throughout my play through. I found that I was more focused on getting to the end rather than actually enjoying anything that happened within the story.
One of the reasons for this is that Rise suffers very heavily from the Assassin’s Creed curse; the sequel was released very shortly after the original with little in the way of graphical or gameplay improvements only this time with added options that, in the long run, turned out to be pretty pointless. Something that the rebooted series has done rather well is its use of crafting, yet there was no real difference in feel if ever I spent time upgrading my equipment. The PS4 version had the majority of the weapons already unlocked yet, when it came to choosing my gun/bow of choice, it really only came down to which skin looked the coolest as several options all contained the same stats, even after upgrade.
Something else that bothered me was that, whilst running through the story, I had a massive sense of déjà vu. I quickly realised that I had done everything that I was doing before, in addition to pulling elements directly from the first game there were also sequences that reminded me of Uncharted 2; a game that came out six years earlier, did everything that Rise does only better, and did not have any of the extraneous elements. In fact, shortly after completing Rise I played Uncharted: Lost Legacy and, whilst not wanting to ruin my up-coming article detailing my time with that game, I greatly preferred it to the Lara Croft sequel.
An element that really didn’t help with my time playing was the almost wooden representation of Lara herself. Mo-capped and voiced by Camilla Luddington, an actress I am a massive fan of thanks to her time in Grey’s Anatomy, I found this performance completely phoned in. Lara’s speech sounded like it came word for word from a page and in a manner that made my cringe, especially as certain sayings and grunts are constantly repeated throughout.
Now I would be able to forgive all of this depending on how well it showcases its main selling point, sadly even raiding tombs did little to increase my enjoyment of the game. Thanks to its linear layout and the automatic movement of the camera none of the tombs felt even the slightest bit challenging.
At times Rise felt little more than a more expansive version of Temple Run as I just held the left stick forward and jumped at the most opportune time. Overall Rise of the Tomb Raider is not a bad game. It has a story that, whilst copying too much from other sources, does expand upon the mythos of the rebooted series. Certain gameplay elements were fun when I was not made to grind them out. And I did find some enjoyment with the fighting mechanics and generic bad guys.
Yet everything that I did has been done before, and to a much better degree. Fingers crossed the up-coming third game can rectify a lot of the problems with this sequel but, if it doesn’t, I will probably just play Uncharted again.