We’ve all asked it right? Which game series do you prefer? Tomb Raider or Uncharted? I’m sure we’ve all answered it too. I know I have. I grew up with Lara from her launch: October 26th 1996 and it’s safe to say that I’ve played every Tomb Raider game since. Like it or not Lara Croft has been one of the most influential video game characters of all time not just for her on-screen presence but for changing the way girls talk about games. I know that she certainly gave me some welcomed confidence back in the mid-nineties. There was a time when I thought the Tomb Raider series had lost its was a little. Angel of Darkness was an all time low point for me. I remember trading my copy of Grand Theft Auto Vice City to get a copy and was left feeling rather underwhelmed. Angel of Darkness felt too Cosmopolitan. Too sure of itself. Too City Like. Needless to say I never finished it because it was not Tomb Raider.
Since then a lot changed in the gaming world. Nathan Drake came in to our lives to provide us with a new sense of adventure! Uncharted, unlike Tomb Raider has been very consistent in terms of gameplay, story, character relationships and authenticity. The entire Uncharted series feels alive. The global sense of adventure, and wonderment were believable. Nathan and Lara have travelled the world but who did the better job? Can you choose between Uncharted and Tomb Raider? The latest instalment’s; Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and The Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration served up remarkable gameplay mechanics but let’s un-pick this a little bit more shall we? I will not be focusing on the details of each games story, however but more about the overall pulling power of each game.
Lara was here first so Naughty Dog copied the parkour and flailing acrobatics for their own protagonist right? Not at all. I actually believe both games borrow heavily from the Assassin’s Creed series but that’s another debate. Having played Rise of the Tomb Raider again on the PS4 it reminded me at how similar Lara feels from the 2013 reboot: Tomb Raider. Rise of the Tomb Raider seems pretty fluid to me in that jumping in and out of menus is fairly straightforward (a feature that can often seem frustrating), meandering to and from objects when in cover also feels pretty solid. I really like how Lara automatically ducks when near cover as gives the illusion of more lifelike gameplay. Let’s face it, your natural response if met with a dozen men shooting at you would be to duck for cover. This is one advantage over Uncharted 4 whereby you manually shift Drake behind cover. It’s a minor detail that makes a big deal to the gameplay mechanics.
I’ve already mentioned the Parkour elements. Lara can often seem way too wooden when ascending rock faces as the angles of jumps need to be spot on before she’ll connect. For me this takes the edge of the tempo of the gameplay as one fall can lead to a death that Nathan would have probably avoided. Speaking of, the mechanics in Uncharted 4 and in particular moving Drake from object to object, feels a lot more stable compared to Lara’s efforts. How much does this really matter in the overall gameplay experience? Everybody likes a smooth drive right? Just the same as everybody likes to barrel through a level on a video game without mechanical hindrances. It’s a minor gripe but Lara certainly falls slightly short of Mr Nathan Drake here.
Graphics & Textures
What we have here are two games that look absolutely incredible and not to mention that Rise of the Tomb Raider and Uncharted 4 will look even sleeker on the PS4 Pro in a free weeks time. Lara definitely spends more time outside than Nathan Drake so seems to be faced with more of a range of elements. Rise of the Tomb Raider capitalises on catch lights and reflections. The ice and water textures look incredible; adding to the immersion of the harsh tombs and environments. The cut scenes seemed consistent with a high level of detail in inscriptions, walls, rocks and even down to the edit on Lara’s face. For me Rise of the Tomb Raider is the winner here. Whilst Uncharted 4 is one of the best looking games on the PS4 I feel Naughty Dog focused more on impressive draw distance over the minor details. Perhaps you have a completely different view?
Overall appeal: Rise of the Tomb Raider Vs. Uncharted 4
Oddly I had a strong dislike to Rise of the Tomb Raider when it got released on the Xbox One. Why? For me it was too soon after the 2013 release and there were not enough differences between the two. Fast forward one year and here we have Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration. I felt more settled playing it this time around. Perhaps it was all of the DLC bundled in that swayed my feelings? Perhaps it was because I was playing on my preferred console: The Playstation 4? I have zero clue. I cannot explain it.
Out of Uncharted 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration my concentration lies with Rise of the Tomb Raider. I feel it is less monotonous and I prefer the intense feelings go isolation. In Uncharted 4 I found that the story relied a lot more on the presence of the AI for it to move along whereas Lara was more of a lone ranger. It seemed to be more about Lara and her survival techniques. I can overlook the minor graphical differences (literally that minor) and I can overlook the huge differences in stories but this I cannot. Both games are packed with absolute adventure, taste and pulling power but Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration is that little bit more glorious for me.
- Gemma aka Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24
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