Rise of the Tomb Raider (PC) Review

By Aria DiMezzo 02.02.2016 11

Review for Rise of the Tomb Raider on PC

The reboot of Tomb Raider was fun, but it lacked a backbone other than Lara herself, and many things came off as either irrelevant or ineffective - a result of disparate gameplay elements shoehorned into the final product. Crystal Dynamics has doubled down on this, although the many gameplay mechanics are woven into the main experience with more competence, and immersion lies slain in 2013. How fares this continuation and refinement of the rebooted series, then? Cubed3 scours the dank tombs to find out.

Once more, the main appeal is Lara Croft, although the narrative no longer has her growth as the central focus; instead, Rise of the Tomb Raider seeks to expand on Lara's relationship with her father, a raider of tombs himself, as she follows in his footsteps and succeeds where he failed. To say that this is clichéd is an understatement: a female protagonist following in daddy's footsteps to prove to the world that he wasn't insane and that he was correct all along? If that sounds familiar, it's because it is.

This isn't to say that the plot is bad, because it's not. It's simply uninteresting, and largely predictable. Regrettably, however, Lara herself does not pick up the slack as she did in the previous release, but this is a double-edged sword: there is also considerably less "break the cutie" going on this time, which is refreshing. Sadists need not fear, however, because Lara is still thrown from enough cliffs so that all but Ted Bundy would be satisfied.

The strange mechanics of the previous game are continued, including the levelling system and a more involved skill tree; the result is closer to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim than Tomb Raider, as the effects are more integrated into the experience. To raise her translation level, Lara must translate, and in so doing she earns the ability to translate more complicated runes. Rather than feeling like a series of menus clicked at arbitrary intervals to enact meaningless changes, these actually add to the experience in small ways. The changes are certainly not ground-breaking, but they get the job done.

Screenshot for Rise of the Tomb Raider on PC

Immersion is non-existent, though, partially killed by a narrator who pops up every so often, a bit like Alfred in Batman: Arkham City. There are no extended passages designed to stir the player's empathy for Lara and to put the player in her head. To quote the latest buzzword, it is more cinematic, in the sense that it feels like this is a character in a movie, not a controllable character in a video game. This isn't a good thing, because Lara has always been the strongest part of the series, although the reasons for her appeal have evolved over the years. Ironically, Rise of the Tomb Raider is centralised more on… raiding tombs… than the Tomb Raider herself, and the connection between the player and the character has been severed—at the least, it is not as strong as it has been.

The gameplay feels more like a return to the form of its ancient predecessors and feels more like Tomb Raider II and Tomb Raider III, with larger rooms of multi-stage puzzles to be solved, some interesting platforming segments, and decent combat. The puzzles are still not overly elaborate, and trial-and-error has more of a place in the solving process than logic itself, but that large rooms are broken into numerous smaller sections evokes memories of the early entries, although the smooth platforming controls make it much less frustrating.

It's worth noting that the game was released on PC on January 28, 2016, and has five pieces of DLC available, totalling nearly $30 as of January 30, 2016. This effectively renders it as "Launch Day DLC," and it's insulting and infuriating that gamers are expected to throw down $60 on a brand new title and will not have a substantial chunk of the experience—within days of launch. For that reason alone, a Game of the Year/Complete Edition is recommended.

Screenshot for Rise of the Tomb Raider on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Like its predecessor, Rise of the Tomb Raider is fun, but many of the flaws have been ironed out. A few new shortcomings were introduced, but not nearly enough to really hinder the gameplay experience. There's certainly plenty to like, and not a whole lot to dislike, but having Lara pushed to the back after such a strong performance in the initial title may leave players feeling underwhelmed and dissatisfied. It's definitely worth picking up… once it's part of a Complete Edition at a reasonable price and with all the content.

Developer

Crystal Dynamics

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Completed the main story yesterday, just have to collect everything and finish off the remaining tombs to get 100%. It was a great game, and had lots of improvements over the first, but at the same time, I actually preferred the first game overall. I can't quite put my finger on why, but I think it's because I felt it was better paced, and I also thought there's a bit too much going on with the controls.

As for the price, I got mine for £21. So I can't complain about that, personally.

( Edited 02.02.2016 15:33 by Marzy )

It's mostly the ridiculous amount of DLC (six pieces--seven technically, but one is included in purchase) and the proportionally high prices so soon after launch that set me off. Whether it's been out for Xbox for a month or not, it just launched on PC, and that makes it Launch Day DLC--$30 of it, effectively raising the price of the complete game to $90, which is more than what would one have paid for Skyrim and all its DLC, even if they were all purchased at full price. And Skyrim offers thousands of hours of entertainment, even for non-completionists. I've probably got several hundred in it myself. And while it's not all good, the idea that the Total Skyrim Experience would be cheaper than the Total RTR Experience is mind-boggling.

Among that DLC is Endurance Mode for 10 USD. It's hollow, empty, and the bare minimum a Survival/Crafting mode would need. I keep coming back to Skyrim because, again, the Endurance Mode is just as shallow as anything in Skyrim was: to refill your hunger bar, what do you do? Just loot a deer--that instantly refills it. It's got no more depth than putting on a necklace to marry someone, and this Endurance Mode is 1/6 the price of the entire game.

But even putting that aside, it means that this honest-to-goodness game mode that was ready and available at launch was intentionally withheld from the main product so that Square-Enix could charge an extra $10 for it, as was the Baba Yaga DLC and numerous outfits.

If publishers want to scratch a console manufacturers' back and let it have exclusive releases for a month, that's fine. But if they develop DLC during that month and then release the game onto other platforms, they have to understand that it becomes Launch Day DLC on those other platforms, and the idea that there is enough Launch Day DLC here to have to pay 50% of the full game's price again just to get it all... is absolutely sickening. That's my main gripe here--aside from the fact that the biggest draw of the previous title (Lara) takes a backseat here--that the full experience sits at 90 USD. All clever word games aside, Rise of the Tomb Raider launched with a $90 price tag, and players can instead choose to pay $60 for part of the game. This should probably get a Critical Hit rant before I write a freaking novel in the comments. lol

And as I understand it the game is region-locked, but I'm not certain of that.

( Edited 02.02.2016 16:46 by Anema86 )

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

It would've been a bad idea to release the PC version with all Dlc included so soon after the X1 launch. No company would do that as they'd lose their customers' trust. If it was a year or so later then they may have done.

Apart from the Tomb DLC, the rest are small cosmetic changes (though the endurance mode is priced far too high)

What I love are the graphics and environments. The game looks gorgeous and there's just so many ways to traverse the larger areas. You get a lot of satisfaction from exploring as almost every reward is worth the effort.

The story is just a continuation of the previous game which I don't mind but I would love a more isolated adventure for this lara like in Tomb Raider 1 and 4 which have little human interaction. Lara in all had to kill 5 people in tomb raider 1. There's no need to pad these games out with hundreds of mercenaries that you have to fight. Tombs are generally ancient and undiscovered, not crawling with soldiers who got there before you.

Without the Dlc, the game is still great value.

Though Lara had been there a few times before, I would love to see her visit Egypt with this engine.

I don't disagree that it's still good--I don't think I'd say it's great value, but there's definitely worse ways to spend $60.

That's exactly the issue, though... They did lose my trust. There is absolutely no chance of me buying a new release from Square-Enix again, because they're asking $60 for this one. And giving away the DLC would only make customers happy, but it's a murky issue; cosmetic or not, they were intentionally withheld from the release so that they could be sold separately at a premium. This is Launch Day DLC, which is distinctly different from ordinary DLC; this is stuff that was ready to go when the game launched, and was specifically withheld.

Trust in the industry is already at an all time low, and it can't sustain itself. It can't. I've already learned that if a game isn't on sale on Steam for 50%+ off, then I shouldn't buy it, because it could go on sale (and is likely to) at any given moment. Who does that hurt? Publishers. Who does it help? Consumers. If waiting six months or a year can save me $40-70, and I've got plenty of games to play in the meantime that I purchased for 50-80% off, then I should do it. And I ordinarily do, but Rise of the Tomb Raider is actually an exception and is the first non-Nintendo game I've bought around launch day since Civilization 5 (which taught me to wait at least until the first patch to buy a game).

And we already knew, before RTR even launched, that it will get DLC, a GOTY/Complete/Definitive Edition, and that waiting and screwing over the publishers by buying it all for $20 instead of $100 piecemeal is the better avenue. "Us and Them" is the name of the game, and that's true in every walk of life, but the outright contempt publishers show for gamers, and the hostility they've garnered by pulling stuff like this, cannot last forever. I'm far from being the only person to wonder why I'm being asked to pay $90 for the full game and simply given the option of paying $60 for only part of it, but I'm more interested in how gamers are getting fleeced than how SE may not make as much money.

Gamers who bought season passes would get mildly screwed if the dlc was included, but there will be more DLC, and at this rate the DLC for the game will match or even outstrip the price of the game itself. And it's hard for me to care about the people who foolishly paid $30 for the promise of sight-unseen future DLC. They took the risk that the DLC may suck, may not be substantial, and may not be worth their money, and there was never any doubt that RTR would get DLC.

If some people get fleeced because they fell for the "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today line," that sucks and I can sympathize with that--it's happened to me, as well. But if the alternative is this, behavior that will ultimately crash the industry (it's happened before, and happens in other industries pretty often) and replace the current AAA publishers with the rising indie scene, then so be it. Someone's gonna get screwed here, and Square-Enix is responsible for creating that situation where someone is going to get screwed. We have the option to turn that on them and make THEM the ones who get screwed.

Maybe they'd learn a lesson, like I did from CiV. And maybe, in the long run, it would help them more to place the interests of consumers higher on their priorities than we are now. I love Square-Enix and want to see them survive the next decade, but at this rate, SE, Ubisoft, EA, and WB are all going to fall, because people won't put up with it forever, and the past few years have proven they'll only get more greedy. E.T. was merely the catalyst. Prior to its release, the industry had spent years flooding the market with inferior products and blatant ripoffs, and consumers tolerated it then, too. But not forever.

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

To be more succinct (If I can), I don't see how giving players more content at no additional cost could possibly damage consumer trust. Would it suck for those who bought the Xbox versions? Sure, but that's easily covered as the price to be paid for the exclusivity they enjoyed. And they COULD get it at no additional cost, too--I'm not gonna say they SHOULD, because it's just ordinary DLC on Xbox, but they could, if SE wanted to keep their trust. People who foolishly (Yes, season passes are foolish) bought season passes aren't necessarily hurt: there will be plenty more DLC that won't be Launch Day DLC that their passes will cover.

When we're talking business, trust definitely has to be earned, and they've done absolutely nothing to earn trust. I trust that a game on launch day will be incomplete without DLC that is often included as a code for free. I trust that there will be plenty of DLC for any AAA release. I trust that I can wait six months to a year to pick up a title and save tons of money while getting all the content. I trust that publishers will shoot themselves in their feet. I trust that any rope we give them will be used to hang not themselves but us. I trust that they'll carve out chunks of the game and present it as DLC. If publishers want my trust that they won't do anything and everything to make another buck at my expense whether it's ethical or not and whether I'm satisfied or not, they're gonna have to earn that, because they've systematically undermined that trust since the day I branched out from Nintendo.

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

I'll likely be picking this up once it hits PS4. With luck it'll have all the DLC with it.

Anema, I agree with you. If the PS4 version isn't a Complete Edition on day one, I will not be happy. I was expecting the PC version to launch with any DLC up to this point, although I didn't know how much of it there was.

I agree with the suggestion there should be less enemies to bring it back in line with original TR games, and more focus on tombs, too. It's what I was hoping Rise would be. Enjoyed the reboot as it was, though, so should enjoy this one.

Az, I was pretty surprised by the amount of DLC available, as well. One or two things wouldn't have been nearly as bad, but this amount of DLC of this substance and at this price on the day it launched... It might even be unprecedented. $30 of DLC is an awful lot of DLC--that's half of another new release by itself. Even if we consider just the Xbox release from ~3 months ago, that's still an unusual amount of DLC in this timeframe. One or two outfits probably wouldn't have bothered me, but not getting a full game mode and a full side quest that were both ready when the game released... 

Plus, Endurance Mode sucks. Lol

Prior to the reboot, I hadn't played any of the old ones since an early teenager, but my brother loved them all. The only one I played at all was TR2, and the controls were so bad I couldn't get into it. When I got the Tomb Raider bundle on Steam, I started with 3. What really struck me about RotTR is how similar it is to what I've experienced of TR3 (which I really haven't played extensively yet), especially the level designs.

( Edited 02.02.2016 22:05 by Anema86 )

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

I can't stand the old Tomb Raider games, but these last two were fantastic. I'm a fan of the direction they've took, personally. I do think the story elements could have maybe been a bit better, but as far as gameplay goes, they're fun and really well made. Though the story is the kind of thing I expect in a game like this anyway, and I thought Rise did a better job of that side of things. Especially with the cutscenes.

Well, at least the PS4 version will include everything, as it should. Probably won't take long at all before it is about £20, either.

Christos (guest) 28.08.2018#11

Rise of the Tomb Raider was an excellent game and one of the best AAA single player games this gen. A 7/10 is way too harsh for this game in my opinion.

The gameplay is great and action packed, production values are stellar, and it is a very immersive experience. Content is more than enough, i just can't understand why people complain. How many hours of quality content you think you can have in 2016 for 60$? Seriously now, adjusted for inflation this is like paying 30$ 2 decades ago and back then games weren't exactly chocked full of content either... I have been a hardcore gamer since the NES, i should now...

This game is definitely a 9/10. Harsh reviews like this are exactly the reason all we have to look forward to in the future are Fortnite clones to play. Enjoy.

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