'Rise of the Tomb Raider' is extra of the identical, and that's okay
Crystal Dynamics’ 2013 Tomb Raider reboot pulled off a troublesome process: It efficiently introduced life again to an growing older, muddled franchise and offered heroine Lara Croft with a superb origin story. Now that Croft has made her transition from a terrified shipwreck survivor to adventuring (however nonetheless weak) badass, what does she do for an encore? Rise of the Tomb Raider (coming to the Xbox One and 360 as a timed unique on November tenth) solutions that by tightening up and refining the primary recreation’s core expertise whereas throwing gamers into a completely new surroundings. The world is greater, there are extra expertise to enhance, extra secrets and techniques to seek out and, sure, extra tombs to raid. It is not wildly totally different than the final recreation, however that is not a knock: If it ain’t broke, do not repair it.
It is easy for gamers to leap proper in whether or not they’re accustomed to the earlier recreation or not; the controls stay principally intuitive and the story stands up properly by itself. It is a story that is a little bit of a cliche: Croft is constant her father’s analysis into reincarnation and “tangible proof of the immortal soul.” The seek for immortality is hardly new, however thankfully the following struggle for survival and world exploration aren’t dulled by the rationale behind Lara’s mission.
Whereas the primary recreation did an incredible job of presenting a lush, detailed island of terror, developer Crystal Dynamics is absolutely harnessing the subsequent-era energy of the Xbox One to craft an enormous and delightful world to discover — and one which places you within the sorts of environments not sometimes related to Lara Croft. Artistic director Noah Hughes says that specializing in “digital tourism” is all the time part of location design in Tomb Raider video games. “You go to those unique locations and really feel such as you’ve been there on some degree,” Hughes stated. “That results in a pure specializing in surroundings as a part of the concepting part, considering ‘the place are the cool locations we will take her’ which might be finally totally different than we have been prior to now.”
An excellent chunk of the sport’s first hour flashes again two weeks and takes you out of Siberia to a extra “commonplace” Tomb Raider surroundings (the solar-baked deserts of Syria). However the majority of what I performed put me in an enormous, frozen wasteland the place the climate feels as a lot of a menace because the enemies stalking you. However regardless of the constant, snow-coated aesthetic, the small print of every location proceed to be fairly diversified — Hughes famous that they targeted on ensuring every location had a large variety of terrain to maintain anybody setting from getting stale.
The remastered model of Tomb Raider that hit the PS4 and Xbox One final yr ought to offer you a good suggestion of what to anticipate visually, however Rise of the Tomb Raider improves on even that title in some fairly vital methods. For starters, it isn’t simply the landscapes which are rendered so dramatically: Character facial expressions, actions and hair are all rendered in much more element than within the earlier recreation. They’re safely distant from the dreaded Uncanny Valley right here, and it isn’t simply within the cutscenes — all the things appears nice all through, whether or not or not you are in a pre-rendered storytelling scene.
“Rise of the Tomb Raider strikes a pleasant stability between driving the story ahead and permitting gamers time to discover areas for secret gadgets in addition to tombs.”
The Xbox One’s additional horsepower additionally allowed Crystal Dynamics to construct areas which are a lot bigger and extra in-depth than something the group was capable of do within the first recreation. In reality, Hughes says the sport’s hub areas are two to 3 occasions bigger than within the earlier recreation. You’ll spend loads of time getting misplaced on the planet, looking for the various collectible artifacts unfold all through that fill within the recreation’s again story.
The most important gameplay change I observed was to the crafting system for upgrading weapons. You possibly can nonetheless discover the generic salvage all over the world, however some puzzles would require you to scour the setting for particular supplies you will have to survive. At one level within the demo, I used to be confronted with an unlimited grizzly bear that mauled me to items once I tried to get round it. The sport helpfully knowledgeable me that poison may be a method to get across the beast, and so I used to be despatched off to look the snowy forest for mushrooms and different provides I might use to craft a poison arrow — one thing that made felling the bear a lot simpler. Fortuitously, the necessities for crafting these particular gadgets weren’t too onerous; I by no means felt like I used to be being pressured into unnecessarily lengthy fetch quests to pad the sport’s operating time.
Rise of the Tomb Raider strikes a pleasant stability between driving the story ahead and permitting gamers the time to discover areas for secret gadgets in addition to the titular tombs gamers felt have been lacking a bit from the primary recreation. There are undoubtedly extra aspect quests, and those I attempted felt much more difficult than those within the first Tomb Raider. Actually, a number of ended up being too time-consuming. I moved on to maintain the story going due to my restricted demo time — but when I have been enjoying at my very own tempo, I might have been joyful to spend extra time exploring.
In the long run, this can be a Tomb Raider recreation, via and thru. Rise might not break any new floor for the collection, however the 2013 reboot efficiently reinvented the sport’s components nicely sufficient that I am under no circumstances disillusioned to have one other chapter to take pleasure in. There’s extra to discover, the world and its inhabitants appears higher, and the frozen, desolate previous-world Russian panorama is a large departure from the earlier recreation. All of which is to say that Rise of the Tomb Raider might be one of the best type of sequel: One which delivers much more of what individuals beloved concerning the unique.
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