When the Tomb Raider reboot released in 2013 I had zero expectations for it. I went in with an open mind and a cleansed palate and I enjoyed it so much that I nearly 100 percented it in two days. I skimped on sleep and food because I was so engaged. I love it when games have that effect.
My excitement for Rise of the Tomb Raider has only increased in the past several weeks, and on Monday I was beside myself at the faux midnight release. Even with all that excitement, I forced myself to go to bed right after installing it. I’m not even kidding. I waited until it said 100% then I turned off the Xbox One and went to sleep.
I’d insert an old joke here except my birthday is later this month and it rings too close to home.
I started in on it yesterday and, according to the game, I’m at 25% completion. I thought I’d weigh in with my thoughts at this early stage of the game.
I’ll start with the cons and then round out with the pros so we end on a high note. Here we go!
Straight out of the gate I found the controls to be less precise than the last entry. It would seem they are programmed to “snap” to certain locations based on the activity, but that bleeds over into various other unnecessary times and while it hasn’t caused me to die repeatedly, it is less than ideal. I’ve adjusted the sensitivity of the controls both higher and lower to see if this would accommodate for these issues, and so far, to no avail. I don’t recall having this issue with the prior entry, so this leaves me a bit confused as to what they were going for.
There have been various moments when the camera seems to think we are dance partners and starts to lead in an odd way. Again, I’m not sure of the impetus behind why the camera was programmed in such a way, yet it seems to happen at some odd times. There have been a few instances where quarters have been confined and the camera has had a bit of a spaz. In at least one case, it left me dead because not only could I not see Lara, but I couldn’t see the several wolves who decided to make me a late afternoon snack. I did, however, get a stellar look at some bushes during the whole ordeal until it showed one of the wolves finishing me off.
There are cards you earn in the game in various ways, and until I did some research online, I had no idea how to make use of them. It turns out you can use them for alternate game modes as unique modifiers, but the game was less than clear on explaining that. I certainly don’t need my hand held when learning the ins and outs of a game, but any sort of information on their practical use would have been appreciated.
The fast travel between base camps is slow. I haven’t timed it, but I’d guess it’s right around 90 seconds. Now I want to time it just to see. It’s a small gripe, but it stands out to me as an oddity in a current gen game.
Now then, on to the pros!
There is so much more variety in this entry. Having optional side missions and challenges is a welcome addition, and the areas feel more open and alive. The environments are just different enough (even within the snowy location of the first several hours of the game) to keep things interesting.
The challenge tombs are far more engaging than in the previous entry. When I encountered my first one yesterday, I was delighted to find it was a multi-step process to succeed in my goal of completing the tomb.
The bow and arrow mechanics are fantastic, and the on-the-fly crafting of various items is helpful.
So far the story has me hooked. I saw a couple aspects of the plot coming, but otherwise, I’m interested to see where it goes.
I’m not one to tout graphics, but the facial animations are fantastic. The hair can be a bit distracting, but the faces are well done.
The voice work, especially by Lara is spot on. Camilla Luddington has the perfect voice for Lara, and I never tire of hearing her.
I am never a fan of hunting in games, but at least in Rise of the Tomb Raider, there aren’t overtly squishy sound effects or close ups on the “collecting” animations. I know that may not be a big deal to some people, but I appreciate the “less is more” approach here.
I don’t recall a single aspect of the music from the previous entry, but at several times already in this one, I’ve found the spare use of music to be a welcome choice.
Despite any of the cons listed above, I’m having a genuinely good time with Rise of the Tomb Raider. I can’t wait to get back in there, unlock more skills, and return to previous areas to finish clearing out those maps. It’s engaging, exciting, and a heck of a good time.
And now I’m going to go play more of it. Cheers!