Rise of the Tomb Raider, 2015
Signed up the 22/06/2017
Rise of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure sequel to 2013's reboot of the series titled "Tomb Raider". It's available on Xbox One & PC, while 20 Year Celebration edition is available on PS4.
Hiking at the very beginning of the game
The story revolves around The Devine Source - an ancient artifact that grants immortality. So basically, Fountain of Youth vibes. It sounds like it comes from a movie you've already watched, but ROTTR makes sure it dishes out the story with added layers of emotion and ties to the past - particularly to Lara's father - to deliver a unique experience to the player. Obviously, Lara's not the only one searching for it - an organisation called Trinity is after it too for their own """good""" purposes.
To capture your attention more, you're blessed with a graphical beauty. This game has a way of reminding you how awe-inducing it is by slowly panning out each time you reach a significant landmark. It's significantly better than its predecessor, which is something because that reboot did things you'd think the previous generation would struggle with.
Exploration is your best friend
We know that Lara is an archaeologist, so artifacts and treasures and messages from the people of the past play a huge role in making this game as exploitative as possible. This is probably the game's strongest point. There are documents, treasures and relics everywhere, and for each one you find, you gain XP. This reward system for exploring really motivates the player to truly emerse themselves in the world of this tomb raider, and will get you sidetracked… in a good way :).
Added to this are multiple Challenge Tombs with many treasures and the ultimate prize of a codex - which unlocks a new, extremely useful skill for Lara. There are traps and puzzles to solve of course, because… I mean… it IS Tomb Raider.
Some will require you to revisit them once you've gained the right equipment from progressing through the main story. This not only keeps you focused on the main story in case you get too sidetracked, but it also promotes the revisiting of areas so as to allow you to access places you couldn't.
To add to all this, finding documents and murals - which Lara translates from one of 3 languages - betters her translation skills and allow her to translate monoliths that require a certain level of "reading skill". It's this small "learning element" that I found pretty interesting and somewhat realistic.
This is what makes this game almost perfect - the exploration doesn't feel useless and time wasting, but rather rewarding and feels more like a useful side quest that will show you the beauty of the world. On top of that, the various documents you find actually tie in to the story, giving you a "hidden context". The exploration isn't just something you can do, it IS the game.
Your journey awaits
The game doesn't just have you being an explorer, but a survivor as well, and she's a badass one. The world is full of animals - those scared of you, and those you'd be scared of - and killing them offers XP and resources. The resources, including those you find scattered around the world, are used to craft equipment and make you a better hunter.
As you progress through the game, you gain better weapons and more skills are "purchased" using the skill points earned through accumulating XP. The game does a solid job of weaving the skills together by requiring you to have unlocked a skill in one category to gain access to a linked skill in another.
Don't expect to be offered a great deal of creativity in terms of how to approach an area filled with enemy soldiers. It's either stealth, which gets realistically harder, and brute force. My only problem with the enemies is that they seem slow and mostly come at you one at a time, but that doesn't mean they don't come at you hard and aren't tactical.
Final thoughts with Fifi
This game is Uncharted on steroids. It boasts incredible graphics, an emotive storyline, challenging puzzles, realistic & fast-paced action, exploration like no other, and so much more. It would be a mistake not to get this game for yourself, especially if you enjoyed the prequel. Love yourself by getting it.
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