Rise of the Tomb Raider (PC) Review

By Aria DiMezzo 02.02.2016

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   

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