Ok, ok, I harangued the local game store for my copy of the PS4 version of Rise of The Tomb Raider. I admit it.
I harrassed them for nearly a week, because they didn’t have a pre-order option. It finally came on the expected date—the 11th, although the stock wasn’t delivered before the store opened at 10AM that day; I had to wait for a couple of hours more before it finally came from the warehouse.
It certainly took a long while to arrive. Almost a whole year, as a matter of fact.
It was released as an Xbox One-exclusive game what, 11 months ago?, and us PS4 users had to sit on our heels. As a matter of fact, the hype had already died down, and was only revived by Square Enix releasing it with a ton of extra content that wasn’t available before, as a 20th anniversary treat.
I had loved the first version of the new Lara Croft, Tomb Raider Remastered, that came out a couple of years ago. It first came out for the PS3 some months before the PS4 was even launched, and they released a special version for the new console, which I adored.
This new game exceeded even my expectations, and I’ve been playing it incessantly since Tuesday when I got it, to the point I forgot about my current obsession, Overwatch. Been taking it nice and slow, savoring each moment. But now, I’ve reached the midpoint of the game, and I guess it’s time to take a break and write down my first impressions.
First off, the scope and open-world environment is larger than I was expecting, much larger than the previous iteration of the game. The gun battles and fights are great, but it’s really the exploration of the environs that’s actually the fun part, looking for hidden tombs and gathering resources and exploring ruins.
This time around, Lara’s on the search for something called the Divine Source, something that gives eternal life to whoever wields it. Rise of The Tomb Raider starts with exciting scenes in Syria, and graduates into climbing the mountains of Siberia and exploring its valleys and underground mines and takes the gamer to all sorts of various locales in the area.
I won’t go into the details of the plot (mainly because I haven’t completed it yet), but suffice it to say it’s vintage Tomb Raider, which is to say it’s complicated, convoluted and completely a hoot to play. Lots of running around, climbing mountains and tall structures, jumping across chasms, crawling under things, zip-lining down cliffs, as well as plenty of puzzle-solving, stealth and fierce combat involved.
The controls, while fairly intricate, are well laid-out and thought through. As are the menus, which are a bit complex, but after an hour or two you get the hang of quite easily. Quicktime events are seamlessly integrated into the narrative, and the sections and chapters are clear and easy to understand. And gameplay is suitably long—20 to 30 hours or more, depending on how much of a completionist you are.
I have a few niggles that bother me though:
- It might be my handling of the controls, but Lara seems too jerky and too quick to respond to the controls, so much so that she sometimes appears cartoony in her movements.
- The writers insert “read-outs” (my term), or short documents that are read out by the characters involved, in terribly awkward moments. Sometimes, Lara is involved in a frantic, frenetic action sequence when there is a read-out inserted in the middle of it. It sort of kills the mood.
- There is inappropriate shaking of the environment in a scene, as if there was an earthquake occurring, but this goes on for the entire time. Like in an underground mine sequence in the middle of the game where everything is shaking—it’s difficult to believe the scenery is that unstable.
- Aiming is pretty difficult, and you sometimes miss your target when you thought it was a sure thing. This is a carryover from the first game, and you’d think the developers would have taken the time to fix it. But no, it’s still there.
But on the whole, the game is an achievement, almost matching the complexity and fluidness of Uncharted 4, which is saying something. The animation and the graphical detail are unparalleled, and the story sufficiently complex and involving. Games don’t come any better than this,.
Rise of The Tomb Raider is one of the best to come out for the current generation of consoles, and comes with my highest recommendations.