Lucien’s Review: Rise of the Tomb Raider (PS4 Port)

Rise of the Tomb RaiderWell, after all the stupid bullshit with Square Enix, the sequel to the very fun reboot has finally come to a console that I can actually play it on.  Given how they screwed the pooch with this game, it’s pretty clear that this is going to be the last entry in the franchise.  Square Enix felt that the original game underperformed even though it was hugely popular.  This game will be the death knell for the franchise since it was so mucked up with the timed-exclusivity and the release at the same time as a ton of other games last year.  I’m honestly sad to see the franchise end.  It had a lot of potential for interesting sequels.  So how does the franchise go out?  Not too bad, actually.  It’s not great, but it’s pretty good.  Let’s get into it.

The plot goes that Lara is now stuck living in her father’s shadow, trying to clear his name.  After what she saw in the previous game, she is convinced that everything her father believed is true and she has to set things right.  Now it’s off to Siberia to go hunt for the missing truth of the “Divine Source” her father had been after, all the while crossing paths with an overused plot device in gaming – a secret organization that is insanely powerful and wants to rule the world. Yeah, not a fan of that.  Who wins in the end?  I think you know the answer.

When I reviewed the original game, I said that it was a game that had a lot of flaws.  It was overly gory for no good reason, had a plot that seemed to be at odds with the mechanics and had really bad stereotypes as characters.  But I could look past all that because the game itself is so fun.  Here there are also a bunch of problems, and while the game is fun, it isn’t as fun as the last one.  I am going to take a different approach this time and talk about the good stuff first before talking about the problems.  I want this to be constructive.

The good stuff is that the gameplay here is just as fun as in the last one.  The stealth has been tweaked a bit, and you have some new weapons to play around with.  But the reality is that it is still as awesome and fun as I remember.  There is one new toy they give you that I spammed to no end because it made some of the bigger fights a cake-walk.  However, you are given a choice in how you want to play.  Since I am all about stealth, you probably know how I did.  My version of Lara Croft is a hunter who stalks her prey and takes them out.  No one escape her arrows, single shots to the head, or blade.

Next up are the visuals.  This isn’t the greatest-looking game in the world.  Truth is, it honestly looks about the same as the PS3 game last year.  But it still looks good.  Setting it in an arctic part of the world was awesome because it allowed the devs to have some fun with how you use ice and other such mechanics.  Since everything in this game is about motion and staying in motion, you learn to use all your surroundings.  That’s another thing that the gameplay mechanics give you to play with.  Not the greatest-looking game on the system, but I do like the look all the same.

Another nice touch was the crafting mechanic.  This game also has an emphasis on Lara being a survivor who has to make the most of whatever she has on hand in order to stay alive.  Sure, it means that you are constantly scrounging for materials, but I was doing the same thing in the last game, so it was fine.  If anything, it made me feel more like I was in her shoes because we had to put things to use in order to make pretty much everything for your weapons.  You are given very little in this game.

Here’s the part where we get into some of my problems.  For starters, making Lara a more confident character actually made her boring.  So much of her personality from the last game was sucked into oblivion for this one. I kind of liked the angry desperation she had in the previous entry. Here, even when there is bad stuff happening, Lara always seems to be in control.  There are only a couple stand-out moments where she gets genuinely pissed.  One of them was pretty badass when she’s yelling at someone who betrayed her and puts a bullet in them.  Which brings me to my next problem.

The side-characters in this game was bland and forgettable.  They bring Jonah back from the previous entry.  That’s cool.  What happened to the others?  Like Sam and Reyes?  One of the stand-out points from the last game was that diary entry Jonah made about his fear about the island and what he would do if he was the last one standing.  The characters in the previous game were stereotypes, sure, but the game at least had fun with those stereotypes.  This time around, pretty much all the side characters are dull as dirt.  I found two of the characters in the logs that I was finding more interesting than pretty much anyone in the main game.  Hell, I wanted to know what their story was more than Lara’s.

And then there’s the villains.  This guy is as forgettable as possible.  So is the secret other villain who had a pretty decent reveal, I will admit.  I didn’t care about this dude.  The game wants you to hate him, but even the voice acting is trying too hard.  The game also did this weird thing where it would cut to the two villains.  All of the major cutscenes are connected with Lara seeing what’s happening.  Here, we just take a break from the game to see two villains talking and it isn’t especially interesting.  I didn’t get why and it broke the flow of what was happening.  There were also these weird cuts that I guess were supposed to show the passage of time, but they come out of nowhere and linger too long.

Overall, this game is good.  It isn’t great.  In comparison to the last game, this one is the lesser.  But it is still good.  If you are of a mind to, I do recommend checking out, but maybe wait for the price to drop.  Sorry you had to go out on this note, Lara.  But hey, Agent 47 is doing much the same, since Square Enix decided to shit where they eat with that one too.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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