By Gemma @Juicy Game Reviews
There’s no doubt in my mind that The Rise of the Tomb Raider is a great game. Crystal Dynamics produced an epic adventure, this is true. I’ve read and watched numerous reviews that ranked the new Lara Croft adventure as an eight and in some cases nine out of ten and I’ve been left wondering why? Before you read any further, know that I, like many of you, was a teenager when the first Tomb Raider game got a release on the Sega Saturn and Playstation 1 and one thing is very, very clear to me: Tomb Raider is one of the most evolved series on the market. The Rise of the Tomb Raider seems nothing like the very first Tomb Raider game. I can hear many of you say “of course it’s not” and especially since the franchise was sold to Crystal Dynamics years ago. They’ll always be a part of me that wants that Tomb Raider game back but the rational part of me knows that Tomb Raider is forever changed and it’s a new generation of gamers sat behind their controllers meandering through the Tombs.
The Rise of the Tomb Raider is a timed exclusive to the Xbox One. A little stunt that really annoys me. I’m old school when it comes around to Tomb Raider and Lara started her life on the Sony Playstation (actually a Sega Saturn one week earlier) and I felt it was an unfair move to players that don’t own an Xbox One to have to wait. Now I’m thinking that the wait may be a good thing to the hardcore Sony Elite’s and I’m going to tell you why.
I’m over seven hours in to Rise of the Tomb Raider and I’m left feeling very underwhelmed so Playstation 4 owners, listen up. The new Tomb Raider adventure feels too similar to the 2013 release of Tomb Raider. The world in Rise of the Tomb Raider varies between the harsh blizzards of Siberia to the warmer climates of Syrian cliff sides with some tombs in between. Naturally, parkour, crafting, upgrading weapons, veering off in to side quests and whizzing down zip lines with a climbing axe are all a part of Rise of the Tomb Raider just as it was in the 2013 game. I’m really struggling to see a difference. Here's another example: As Lara sits down at a camp in Rise of the Tomb Raider the menu systems are displayed beautifully and are easy to navigate through (slight improvement on menu navigation from the last game). Again, it felt and looked immensely similar to the previous Tomb Raider experience. I expected a lot more from Crystal Dynamics but it appears that the team took what worked well from 2013 and enhanced it slightly in Rise of the Tomb Raider. You may be happy with this but I yearned for more. Additionally, I am sick to death of ‘clear an area of five to ten enemies then progress *repeat*’. What happened to raiding tombs? Rise of the Tomb Raider (as with the previous Tomb Raider title) plays more like a game about Guerrilla Warfare. Cast your minds back to the slower, quietness of how Tomb Raider used to be. All that stood between you and progressing was a puzzle in a tomb that had been swallowed by the jungle. I wanted more of this and less gunslinging. I'm genuinely struggling to separate the two games but had we never saw Tomb Raider in 2013, I believe Rise of the Tomb Raider would have been revolutionary.
What’s good about Rise of the Tomb Raider?
The environments seem to be more open to choosing which way you want to go. I’ve climbed more trees in Rise of the Tomb Raider than in any other Tomb Raider game. Naturally, this opened up different ways to stalk and kill enemies. Great! Lara and her playgrounds look incredible too. Flowing water especially caught my eye in terms of boosting the game’s aesthetic prowess. Lara’s hair looks and moves fluidly and the story is very rich in details. Without spoiling the story, I’d say that this is one of the strongest points and with a few plot twists along the way, I’m certain you’ll enjoy the overall experience. The story is built in the classic Tomb Raider template: Lara Vs Bad Guys. Winner takes the treasure. It's simple and it works well throughout the folds of Rise of the Tomb Raider.
The final chapter
Rise of the Tomb Raider is a good game but it’s too similar to its predecessor to be classed as a great game. If you have spare cash that you want to blow then definitely dive in for the purchase but if not then wait until the price drops. Your other alternative is to play through Tomb Raider (2013). I personally would not be bothered if we never saw another Tomb Raider game again. What I would love to see is a HD remake of the original. Now that's worth spending your pocket money on!
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We're well in to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One and more recently the Nintendo Switch eras of gaming. Graphics had never looked so smooth and gameplay had never flowed so fluently. Let's not forget the triumphant last Generation of gaming with the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii; all of which I have a lot of time for.
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