RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER: 20 YEAR CELEBRATION

Rise of the Tomb Raider expands on and improves the core pillars of the series" 2013 reboot. What it doesn"t vày is change the formula significantly. Lara Croft is still a young woman and we"re witnessing the process by which she will become the titular crypt corrupter. As in the previous game, she"s soon stranded in an unwelcoming environment with little in the way of equipment and no network of tư vấn. Over the next twenty hours or so, you"ll guide her from branch-gathering and hide-hunting khổng lồ full-on military engagements và supernatural shenanigans. Here"s wot I think.

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I"ve sầu enjoyed playing Rise. In fact, I"ve sầu been enjoying it so much that I didn"t vì the sensible thing & rush through the plot so that I could write my đánh giá quickly. I scoured the two major hub areas for hidden tombs và trinkets, & I leveled up Lara"s language skills until I could read every scrap of parchment và monolithic signpost in the game. Crystal Dynamics have sầu made a world that I want to lớn scour, mostly to see all of the fine details and lovely artifacts rather than to harvest upgrades and experience points.

If you haven"t been following the pre-release (và post Xbone-release) press, you might be slightly confused about the notion of “leveling up language skills”. By reading documents written in various languages, Lara increases her understanding of that particular language, meaning she can read trickier murals và the lượt thích later in the game. It"s a preposterous idea that works well enough if you simply accept that she"s piecing together pieces of very specific isolated idiosyncratic variants based on language groups she already understands perfectly.

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That"s not how the game frames it & one of the languages is simply Russian, Soviet-era, which doesn"t fit in with the idea of isolated variants. But it"s typical of the game"s slightly confused collection of elements, that sense of having lớn accommodate ridiculous ideas inkhổng lồ a framework that leans heavily on graphical fidelity & a readanh mục approach khổng lồ this kind of action-adventure.

The survivalist streak is at the heart of that. Tomb Raider didn"t convince me that the gritty hunter-gatherer approach would ever fit comfortably with the more awe-inspiring & shooty-kill elements of the series. Rise doesn"t bởi anything lớn persuade me otherwise. Early in the game, you"re starring in The Revenant, bear attachồng và all. Kill that bear and you"ve got a hide that you might go toward that ammo pouch you"ve always wanted.

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You"ll gather wood & feathers lớn make arrows, và crouch by campfires. I shivered in sympathy such is the chất lượng of the animations that communicate Lara"s misery. She limps, stumbles, drags herself along the floor, cowers & flinches. There"s not quite as much suffering as in the 2013 game, which added the horror of Lara"s First Murder lớn the pile, but movements through hazardous và claustrophobic environments are wince-inducing.

Again, the astonishing craft that has gone into lớn making Lara act (& react) lượt thích an actual human being is at odds with the cartoonish nature of the trials she survives. Nearly killed by the weather one day, the next she"s absorbing bullets & bouncing off frozen cliff faces as she tumbles toward the game"s climax. For all the collectible distractions and possibilities to lớn slow the pace in the hub areas, Rise is a game of forward momentum. Lara stumbles into lớn trouble và keeps on running & gunning until she gets to lớn the other side.

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Thankfully, the running và gunning is a damn sight better this time around. There are plenty of opportunities khổng lồ sneak through groups of enemies, perhaps striking from the shadows (or stealth bushes) as you go. I"ve sầu also enjoyed crafting explosives và molotovs mid-combat, grabbing bits of tat from the vicinity và converting them inlớn improvised weapons. I could vì chưng without the armoured infantry that show up later on because they"re both frustrating to lớn fight & another example of that clash between the game"s fidelity & its actual mechanics. But I"m at peace with the extensive firefights, which eventually drove sầu me away from the reboot. I"d still rather spend my time solving environmental puzzles and raiding tombs, & the combat occurs at intervals that are too predictable, but I"m not entirely dismayed when the shooting starts.

And, yes, there are more tombs lớn raid this time around. Even some of the main plotlines focus on big ol" underground chambers & the puzzles therein. There are three types of location to discover in the hubs – caves, crypts và tombs. They"re essentially tiers, with caves at the bottom, providing a few basic resources và, often enough, a fight with an animal or paông chồng of animals. Crypts contain relics and run a little deeper underground. Tombs contain a central puzzle & some delightful & varied scenery to gawp at.

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The best of the tombs are the ones concealed within the world. You"ll see what appears lớn be an incidental background detail, a ruined tower or cleft in a cliff, & think nothing of it. Try to get closer though và the telltale sound of chimes informs you that there"s an entrance nearby. So does the big ol" tooltip that appears on the screen, sadly, but it"s possible khổng lồ make your way toward many of the tombs before the pointers appear.

In terms of puzzles, there"s generally one per tomb. These are not gargantuan structure. Or at least, the"re not gargantuan in the sense that they contain elaborate machinery. You"ll cause water levels to rise và fall, và move crates from one place to another. Mostly, the puzzles are about moving from one part of a room khổng lồ another, using machinery & movable elements khổng lồ create a path. They"re satisfying, never overly challenging, and tied khổng lồ a single solution.

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What"s disappointing is how little they draw from the stunning backdrops. Some of the locations are absolutely beautiful, with a sense of scale that"s lacking in the main areas of the game. Whatever mix dressing makes up the tomb, it rarely informs the design of the actual playable area though, which is a shame.

There"s a faint Metroidvania vibe, with some tombs only explorable once mid- và late-game equipment has been unlocked. That mostly affects the entrances though, which I appreciated. You won"t find yourself in an unsolveable room because it"ll be impossible khổng lồ enter unless you have all the tools you need lớn progress once you"re inside.

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If you were truly devoted khổng lồ the game, you"d be able to lớn unlochồng loads of different weapons (often found piecemeal, hidden in locked containers), every skill on the three separate trees (they"re often buffs for abilities rather than entirely new ones) và carry enough ammunition khổng lồ wage a war. And on the latter point, the disappointing truth is that you will have to lớn wage a war. There are tombs and there are artifacts, yes, but the central story becomes one of resistance and guerrilla warfare rather than discovery và awe.

That shift didn"t work for me & nor did the majority of the plot beats, which repeat the previous game"s structure far too neatly. There"s some fun reworking of the legkết thúc of Kitezh, which is the game"s central "treasure", but the people of the Prophet who take on the role of noble native have sầu all the comfortable tattooed ethnicity of a gang of backpackers who"ve decided to lớn size a commune. They"re predictably dull, which leaves Lara"s reaction to them và the spiritual/supernatural revelations lớn carry most of the weight.

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She"s a likeable character on the whole, though burdened with many of the father issues that might have sầu worked as a cross on Indy"s shoulders if The Last Crusade hadn"t actually introduced Jones Sr. And if it hadn"t had a sense of humour. As the final credits rolled, it"s a sense of fun or joy that I felt the game had lacked.

There"s very little khổng lồ laugh about in Rise of the Tomb Raider. This is serious business - magical artifacts, hammy villains, super-secret high-tech military organisations and all – & even when there"s a discovery worthy of wild celebration, the response is muted because of all that serious business. And because people are being massacred left, right & centre.

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Story-wise, Rise continues on the reboot"s path of touching on ideas about invading powers stealing & destroying cultural artifacts, & indeed entire cultures. Less, “It belongs in a museum” and more “We don"t belong here at all, our museums are big theft-vaults, và we should leave the quiet corners of the world well alone”. Lara is driven to explore và expose though, which leads khổng lồ a conflict between the post-colonial awareness that culture cannot be appropriated và placed in a box, & the actual essence of tomb raiding.

In the over, the story fails to reconcile the character"s various ambitions, và after all the questioning is done và the piles of bodies have been swept away, the necessity of people lượt thích the Crofts – rich outsiders who push and probe – remains. They are the new enlightenment, bringing their knowledge (and thirst for more knowledge) lớn the hidden parts of the world, only bothering to kiểm tra if there"s a good reason to be hidden after the fact.

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I"m not convinced any of that matters. All of the individual elements are enjoyable và much-improved. But the game certainly thinks that the story matters và it eventually becomes detrimental. When it comes lớn the shooting, the exploration & the collecting, however, Rise of the Tomb Raider is extremely accomplished. It"s also a gorgeous game, one that does both the bigger environmental shots và the exquisite details well. On a PC capable of pushing it to lớn its highest settings (and it covers a wide range of machines thanks to lớn a decent mix of visual options), it"s one of the most attractive sầu games I"ve sầu ever seen. I wish there were more variety in the locations lớn show off the splendor of the engine and art kiến thiết.

This is not a globe-trotting game và that"s another part of the stranded survivalism that I find irritating - you"re trapped in a single location for most of the running time, though it is a location with an explicable change of climate midway through the game. It"s not all snow và ice.

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By the muddy, bloody over I was dreaming of the globe-trotting escapades of Uncharted. Drake & co might be too smug và convinced of their own charms, but I enjoy their company. Lara"s likeable when she"s facing preposterous odds & taking down mercenary armies with a snarl of defiance, but as soon as the action slows down & she starts to look inward, she doesn"t even seem to enjoy her own company.

Rise is a svào & confident step forward for the new series, but I"m still unconvinced it"s heading in a direction that I particularly like. This new Lara Croft is in danger of becoming a character constantly in the act of becoming something with no clear idea of how to portray that thing once she arrives. When all of the rising was done, she still felt like a heroine in tìm kiếm of a setting and plot that draw on her strengths rather than her struggles, và for all that forward momentum the game is a spectacular journey that fails to lớn reach a fulfilling destination.