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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (448)

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Detroit: Become Human 4/5
Destiny 2 4/5
Horizon: Zero Dawn 4.5/5
Oxenfree 4/5
Murdered: Soul Suspect 3/5
Kirby Star Allies 3/5
Celeste 4.5/5
Dark Quest 2 3/5
Just Cause 3 3.5/5
Guacamelee! 2 4/5
The Incredible Adventur... 4/5
Rise of the Tomb Raider 4/5
Dead Rising 3 4/5
Layers of Fear 3.5/5
Prey 3/5
Zero-K 2/5
Tales from the Borderla... 4/5
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 4.5/5
Hammerwatch 3/5
AereA 1/5
Divinity: Original Sin 4.5/5
The Yawhg 4/5
Sword Coast Legends 3.5/5
Spelunky 2.5/5
We Are the Dwarves 1/5

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Rise of the Tomb Raider   PC (Steam) 

Rises to the Challenge    4/5 stars

Back in 2013, Crystal Dynamics re-invented the Tomb Raider franchise by giving us an untested and younger Lara Croft. Far from being the badass Tomb Raider as presented in her early days, this was an uncertain woman thrown into danger and survival. It was different and was quite fun - and popular, thus there was little doubt this story would continue. Rise of the Tomb Raider is like the first game, but more polished, expanded and just all-around just a bit better.

Presentation: Much like the first game, this Tomb Raider is very much tied to the real world. Plus, the voice actors (most importantly Camilla Luddington as Lara) return as well - including providing mo-cap performances as well. The game just looks great - from the frozen wilds of Siberia to the lush Geothermal Valley to the ruins of the city of Kitezh - each area has a different look and looks pretty impressive. The game also feature better and more involved Tombs to Raid - and the puzzles reflect this, offering a bit more of a challenge, though nothing too brain-bending. The game features a variety of weapons and outfits as well, the traditional bow, a pistol, rifle, shotgun - with usually a couple of different options (such as bolt-action rifle vs. automatic, or a compound bow vs. traditional). Outfits can give you benefits - both against animal and human foes or faster healing and such. It's a nice touch, give more options this time around.

The characters are done well, both in animation, voice acting and overall development. Even the bad guys are fleshed out - with some collectibles (tapes and notes) providing some insight into their stories. The game does require a bit of power - and I had to turn down things a bit to make things run smoothly. The game isn't immune to background popping in at times and I did suffer from a couple of crashes - and the only big bug I found in game was in the Baba Yaga DLC where it didn't render the area right and I was forced to load an earlier save (but didn't lose any progress). Overall, everything went pretty smooth.

Story: The story picks up a year after the events in Tomb Raider. Lara Croft is trying to deal with the fallout of the events in Yamatai and throws herself into her late father's research into the lost city of Kitezh and the promise of immortality. Ana, her father's partner, tells her to abandon her obsession - as this was the very thing that led her father to ruin and ultimately death. But Lara is determined, and with the help of her friend, Jonah, takes a trip to Syria in order to find the Tomb of the Prophet, a key figure in the legend of Kitezh. But the tomb proves to be empty - and shortly after she finds herself being trapped by Trinity - a deeply religious group that arose from a group of knights and is not a powerful paramilitary organization.

She escapes, and gets a key bit of information, tying the Syrian tomb to Russia, and she and Jonah goes off to Siberia. But things quickly go south when an avalanche separate them - Lara finds herself at an old Soviet installation where Trinity has set up camp and discovers the group is being led by Konstantin, and is soon faced with a major betrayal but also learns she is on the right track as an artifact known as The Divine Source is being protected by a small group of people known as the Remanent, led by Jacob, who are descendants of the survivors of Kitezh, who now live a much simpler life while trying to protect the Source. Thus Lara is divided between trying to salvage her father's reputation, and her own obsession, by finding and revealing the Divine Source or keeping the secret safe with Jacob and his people - all the while trying to stop Trinity and, later, save Jonah.

Beyond the main story, the game features a lot of things to find - collectibles that reveal history, lore and such and the DLC, Baba Yaga - that has you facing mind-altering battles while trying to find a missing person; Blood Ties, which is more of an adventure as Lara explores Croft Manor trying to prevent her uncle from taking possession of the now-crumbling manor and Cold Darkness, which explores a new area of Siberia where an experimental chemical has transformed Trinity into mindless zombie-like creatures and Lara must stop the chemical from being released.

Gameplay: Not much changed from Tomb Raider. The game is presented in third person and you can jump, climb, shoot, hide, hunt, collect and craft. You start the game with just a trusty ice axe and a simple bow, but soon come across guns, equipment and ammo that let's you explore more areas and take down enemies in fun ways. The game lets you collect a lot of stuff - things like berries and wood let you craft healing kits and arrows, while other items let you upgrade your weapons and everything lets you gain experience to upgrade your skills. Optional tombs give you the ability to test out your brain - and they are more varied and larger than in the first game. But they also give you access to unique skills and are worth checking out.

The game let's you use stealth to avoid fire-fights - and often it's more advantageous to take down enemies rather than going in guns blazing. But there are points where you have to shoot it out and I found it a nice mix. Enemies can be both animal (wolves and bears) and human (or fantastical humans towards the end) and some battles can get hairy. Still, I don't think I encountered anything too rough and as you upgrade your weapons and get things like explosive ammo, it almost gets laughably easy. I didn't play on the super high difficulty, but found it gets much easier as you go along. I maxed out my skills long before end game - but, remember, I made it a point to seek out every tomb and collectible, all which give you more experience. If you're the kind who like straight story and ignore that extra stuff, it will probably get a bit more challenging.

Replayability: While the base game doesn't offer much (aside from being a completionist and finding everything... like me), the DLC add-ons give you a lot of options to replay tombs and areas of the games with a card mechanic. These cards can either be one-off or permanent that give you both advantages and disadvantages in each level. I didn't explore it too much - but at least it offers plenty of post-game content for those looking for both fun and challenge.

Overall: If you enjoyed the new version of Tomb Raider, there is no reason to pass this game up. It's more of the same, but still has a solid story, better optional tombs and decent DLC for those who want to extend the adventure.

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 4/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replayability: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 4/5

 

 


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