It's been a year and a bunch of DLC packs since Rise Of The Tomb Raider launched on the Xbox One and then the PC. Now we have the game here on the PS4 with all of its DLC and upgrades that have been applied over that year in the form of Crystal Dynamics' definitive edition as it were. It may not have that title but with everything packaged here it surely feels that way. None the less, Square Enix wanted us to join in the twenty year celebration and here we are with our review of Rise Of The Tomb Raider. This is something I only wish I could have had out to you a year ago but none the less, here we go with all of the bells, whistles, and lessons learned over that time.
Lara is back, again, for another fun romp through the world to try and find a bunch of powerful things that have been lost to time. Again she has some great personal interest in all of this here as it links into her father's magnum opus of treasure hunts as it were. But like any good treasure hunt there is also a secretive organization after the same thing and willing to do a lot of the things that Lara may not be to get to the prize their eyes are on. Can we make it there before them or will we just be a small annoyance in their side along the way? I'm sure Lara will be able to tell you better than I…
This could just be me but one would think that after a year of extra QA that Crystal Dynamics would have been able to shape up a lot of the little things in Rise Of The Tomb Raider. What seemed to still be a little rocky, at least for me, was some of the traversal options in the game. More in line here would be the timing aspect of some of the traversal options in the game as some of them were so lax that I found myself dying and falling to my doom after correctly pressing the buttons to make a successful leap or ledge grab. It almost felt like there was a huge delay that the game could never handle between me pressing the buttons and the game responding. Nothing game breaking at all but it did lead to a lot of annoying deaths and repeated areas due to all of this. Like I said, after so much time you'd think they could have patched things up just a bit here.
The only other major gripe I can honestly muster for Rise Of The Tomb Raider here is how the DLC missions were mixed in. Not the fact that they were here but how they popped up in the game's main narrative. There was one point where there was a small lull in the plot of the main game and the DLC missions happened to be available and on the map. I chose to take on the Baba Yaga mission to see what it was all about and became lost in the overall narrative due to this. While I get the idea of what was done here, I also found that had I just pushed slightly further past the point when it all became available I would have been right back on board with the main story and game. Looking back on it all I think it would have been a better choice to leave all the story DLC for after the main game but I'm not sure who is to truly blame on this presentation here. Just thoughts for the future.
Lastly, while I wasn't playing on the hardest mode for my play through and I wasn't on the easiest it did feel like the game's resource management system became something of a lost thing for me. There was a whole system built to keep us scavenging and crafting to keep our tools, weapons, and ammo at their peak but after about my fourth upgrade I found myself running out of space to hold everything I was collecting; even with everything as upgraded and ammo filled as possible. If it wasn't for my completionist nature I would have skipped over so many of the well-hidden loot crate and secret stashes just to keep pressing on. I never had that feeling of survival these things should have forced on me and it feels like it was something truly lost. Of course, another thing to harsh on that generally isn't an issue for other games.
Right out of the gate here for Rise Of The Tomb Raider has to be the visual and audio upgrades that have come not only to this game but also the overall franchise in total. While a good portion of the game wasn't to the levels of completely photorealistic, there were very obvious places in the game where you can see where CD was pushing everything as well as they could. This version of Rise Of The Tomb Raider does look and feel to be the definitive edition that there could be. Like I mentioned above, only all without the official title of it all. Which I guess really sucks for Square Enix as they will have one hell of a time getting anything like that to market if it is ever in the cards. This version was just superb there.
Another one of the game's shining points has to be in the puzzle solving and actual tomb raiding that we get to do. The action and story sequences are fun and all but when we get to go back to some of the true Tomb Raider gameplay of traversing hidden areas and working with ancient traps and devices this is where I think the game truly shines. It got to a point that if I could attempt a hidden temple given my place in the story I would take that deviation and challenge all the way through. Granted there were a lot that were not easily accessible without continuing on with the story, but they never detracted from the core of everything and led me down an incorrect path. I was given my extra fun and then brought back in line with the rest of the game to carry on with the meat and potatoes of it all. As it would seem at least.
While I did gripe on it a bit above, I do have to commend that Rise Of The Tomb Raider doesn't have the issue I found with the last title in the franchise. There is A LOT to do in the game and so many reasons to come back and keep playing. I only found a few, like the above, that truly became a distraction in the overall game but the rest kept the pacing and exploration flowing just perfectly for me. Especially the side missions that cropped up from the new NPCs that could show up after major story events. These always had some great little extras mixed in with the story and they also gave some great advancements to the gameplay once completed. I am a fan of things like these in my games and there was surely no lack of it here in Rise Of The Tomb Raider; even without any of the DLC extras piled on.
I was so heartbroken last year when I found out that I had to wait for Rise Of The Tomb Raider to come to the PS4. Now that I've been able to experience it in my preferred way, I am glad that I waited. Granted a few of my gripes above would have been solved had I been on the Square Enix schedule for releasing the DLC but this is most likely the best that the game is going to get here. There is still room for improvement but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't give it a purchase. Especially when you see how much has been added over the year and all the options to continue playing well after. This is the version to buy and you should. You can learn to get around the minor traversal and mechanic issues I had and then have a game that will have you talking until the next title releases.
I give Rise Of The Tomb Raider 10 Greek Tomes on the Greek Tome scale.
Rise Of The Tomb Raider — Launch Trailer
Rise Of The Tomb Raider was developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix for the PS4 on October 11th, 2016. A digital PS4 copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.