Entertaining Croftology – Rise of the Tomb Raider Review

The latest story of Lara Croft, the only archaeologist whose name is known beyond the broadcasts of the National Geographic channel, began quite ambiguously. The reboot of Tomb Raider in 2013 was a good game., but it raised a lot of questions about the reimagined symbol of the adventure genre. Instead of the long-awaited Tomb Raider, fans were greeted with some kind of Graduates’ Mistress, fragile and clumsy – and no matter how hard the authors tried to explain their idea, they still couldn’t drown out the crowd.

So, for the second attempt, Crystal Dynamics prepared more transparent methods. There is no more legend-building, no dark backstage and screams of pain. Wanted your favorite back? Here she is, whole, unharmed, looking better and ready for any trouble.

Lara Croft in a daring adventure

The more remarkable thing is that now the game has order on the plot front. Well, relative order, if you don’t mind the ancient city lost in the Siberian ice, artifacts that grant eternal life, immortal armies, and centuries-old conflicts at the level. Assassin’s Creed The basis is still blatant nonsense – but where would we be without it, right? Tomb Raider has never been known for its deep storyline and has always been more about the thorn in Miss Croft’s behind, which throws us into the craziest places and situations on a whim. It’s just, um, the series’ trademark, can’t do anything about it.

But what’s important is how it’s presented. To be honest, it’s quite difficult to remember the plot of any of the games right off the bat, even though you’ve been guiding Lara’s triangular shapes through angular ruins for decades and spent your entire childhood doing it. locking up the butler in a giant freezer But what’s there: even the story of the previous part, despite all its dramatic efforts, only managed to be remembered thanks to its clumsiness and dullness. And in terms of plot presentation, Rise of the Tomb Raider has grown significantly, so the traditional mystical nonsense here looks much better and makes the right impression.

Exploring mysterious crypts

First of all, she is not trying to pass herself off as something grand and emotional, unlike the previous game. Now it’s just a great adventure, exactly what everyone wanted: less moaning and suffering on the screen and more tombs and pursuits of antiquities. The lack of pretentiousness is compensated by the eventfulness and surprisingly solid characters. Yes, it’s predictable. Yes, it’s simplistic. But you don’t watch “Indiana Jones” for a multi-layered analysis either, do you?

Secondly, the staging drags on. Sometimes the characters simply can’t hold back and start speaking almost in quotes from vanilla publications – and then the creators emphasize the spectacle. The most banal moments are always accompanied by a magnificent video and/or an equally magnificent scripted performance, the splendor of which even Uncharted cannot surpass. Everything explodes, crumbles, and collapses in such successful proportions that any desire to criticize the game for script flaws disappears. Undoubtedly, it could have been done much better, but it is still interesting to observe what is happening – so why complain?

Confrontation with the enigmatic Trinity
Rugged truck journey

However, the main achievement of the plot is that it harmonizes perfectly with the gameplay and does not feel disconnected from the process. In 2013, Tomb Raider received a lot of criticism for the huge disconnect between the fundamental idea of the heroine’s moral (and physical) torment and the casual shooting of hundreds of mercenaries in between – but that’s not the case here. In order to create a cohesive gaming experience, the character of the new Lara has become more complex and versatile: she is much closer to her classic image of a professional on the job, but she is not devoid of the humanity of her student version. This allows her to equally well whimper when falling from a half-meter ledge and to chop bears, while with her other hand she breaks the necks of armored guys, without splitting into conflicting personalities. All narrative segments are logically coordinated and fully justify what happens in the interactive inserts.

It is easiest to perceive the story as a solid adventure movie. You know, the kind that forgives any nonsense as long as it is well and creatively presented. When all these immortal Constantinople prophets, secret orders, and Siberian rebels stop causing confusion, it turns out that the local plot is quite interesting and captivating. So captivating that you can accidentally lose track of time and fly through the entire journey to the final credits in just a few measly hours. But trust us, it’s better not to do that – as the game Rise of the Tomb Raider offers much, much more.

Of course, bonfires for levets-ups have not gone anywhere.

Of course, the bonfires for level-ups haven’t gone anywhere.

The gameplay is conditionally divided into two parts: action and exploration. The first is most often used in corridor sections of levels and closely resembles Tomb Raider 2013, where an enemy squad rolls out from behind bushes and demands to be killed before progressing further. There is nothing wrong with this, however, as the previous game had the least problems with gunfights, and many of the existing issues have been resolved here.

For example, we used to have no reason to give up our favorite pistol in favor of a shotgun – now in battle, especially towards the end, it is tempting to show off the contents of our bottomless pockets to our enemies. And sometimes the situations require not only juggling the arsenal but also crafting additional ammunition and improvised grenades while in cover. In general, the variety is spot on.

But stealth still doesn’t quite work. Lara is pushed more than ever into the enemy’s rear, covered by tall bushes and equipped with all sorts of invisible arrows with a silencer, but stealthy gameplay is still the most boring. The simple reason for this is that the average soldier considers a teammate falling to the ground and screaming in agony a normal reaction to a joke, and, conversely, gets extremely nervous if a bottle breaks on the other side of the forest. It is possible to try out the prepared gadgets for fun, but playing hide and seek with such artificial intelligence doesn’t work for long.

Mastering stealthy tactics

As for the exploration, it is literally the best element of Rise of the Tomb Raider, despite being completely optional. It is focused on huge, spacious locations filled with all sorts of collectibles and challenges. Not all of them initially look attractive, but they are definitely worth the time invested.

Although the side activities, as always, are monotonous, the variety of rewards for perseverance encourages regular returns. While wandering around, you can find not only resources for upgrades, but also a bunch of other useful and interesting things. For example, large chests often contain parts of new weapons, ancient coins buried under the snow can be spent on advanced equipment, and completing side quests (which now exist) can reward unique clothing. Even various documents, carefully forgotten in the most inaccessible places since the previous game, have gained some weight – with their help, Lara learns foreign languages, and we learn more about the history of the area or delve into the motives of the villains.

What is most pleasing is that they did not go overboard with the content this time. We still have the map of Yamatai Island, dotted with painful blister icons in our nightmares, and the screen covered with progress bars, so we paid the most attention to the concentration of boxes with scrap metal. Half of the collectibles in Siberia are casually collected during the main storyline, and thank goodness for that.

No matter how many times this inscription comes across, Lara still translates it in different ways.

No matter how many times this inscription comes across, Lara still translates it differently.

Special place in the side activity is occupied by tombs with trials. These are small complexes in the name of the classic Tomb Raider, each of which is based on a puzzle: somewhere you need to overcome a raging current, somewhere – break an ice barrier, using gusts of wind, and somewhere even flood the whole hall to reach the altar. The goals are completely different and unexpected, and their achievement implies a creative use of familiar mechanics and requires the player’s observance. Well, or the ability to activate Lara’s special vision, so that she burns down the whole company, whichever is more convenient.

Although the tasks are mostly too obvious, solving them is still interesting thanks to the non-standard approach and special reward at the end. They certainly do not reach the level of puzzles from ancient times, but they have taken a big step forward from the primitive tombs of the reboot, making us regret only that there are too few of them this time. Perhaps by the third part, we will finally reach full-fledged intricate trials.

Breathtaking in-game landscape
Thrilling zipline ride

By the way, the world of Rise of the Tomb Raider is not only intriguing but also endlessly beautiful. The developers managed to fit a huge number of bright, unique locations into the Siberian forests, where you want to return just to take screenshots at different times of the day. From the outside, the abandoned Soviet buildings and dilapidated huts may not be impressive, but when immersed in the atmosphere, it is impossible not to admire the work done.

And the technologies match the high-quality design. Lara Croft’s new adventures persistently strive to the top of the graphical Olympus, as they look better than almost all contemporaries. Gameplay footage can still be recognized, but the engine’s videos are not shy about delivering a decent CGI image. However, the expectations are high, and don’t hope to get the desired 60 frames per second on the recommended configuration. without lowering some settings The open game locations even overwhelm the 980 Ti.

Climbing a towering tree

As for whether Rise of the Tomb Raider turned out well, there is no need to argue. The sequel, surpassing its predecessor in every way, has definitely defined its plot with clear objectives. Its presentation has sharply increased its effectiveness, the key gameplay mechanisms have multiplied their excitement, and the series’ unique atmosphere has slowly begun to emerge.

Now, Tomb Raider has truly returned. If next time she brings more tombs to plunder, it will be even better.

Rise of the Tomb Raider
PC, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Action, Adventure, Co-op
Square Enix
Crystal Dynamics
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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