LTTP: Rise of the Tomb Raider [X1]

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With the release of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I thought it was about time to finally play Rise of the Tomb Raider. I didn’t like the second installment of this prequel trilogy as much as I thought I would. It played well, it was still able to hang with the best of them on the presentation front but I didn’t find Lara likable this time around

Rise of the Tomb Raider continued Lara Croft’s evolution into the Tomb Raider. In her 2013 adventure, Lara was depicted as an archaeologist thrown into traumatic situation. She was a bit hapless at first but by the end, she was taking out mercenaries like Nathan Drake. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara Croft was a bit of an obsessed and selfish jerk who deliberately put her friend and others in danger in order to obtain the “Divine Source”. She even convinced herself that she was doing the right thing if she liberated the Divine Source and relieved the natives from the burden of defending it. Lara ultimately did the right thing but not before doing everything in her power to become very unlikable in my books.

The gameplay loop didn’t change much from what I recall of the last game. There were comparatively cinematic firefights, chases, and climbs broken up by larger open spaces for Lara to explore. These open spaces featured the hunting, gathering, crafting, and fetch quests that one would expect. Some fit the context of story well, while others required a long suspension of disbelief. Tombs were also unearthed in these spaces but this time they were a bit more elaborate and challenging compared to those of the last game.

Thankfully, Rise of the Tomb Raider was not as gruesome as its predecessor. Lara was still brutal with her executions but her deaths weren’t so wince inducing. It was unnecessary in their pursuit of grittiness. She still has a violent rage to her but at least, it matched her gruffer demeanor, this time around.

I played this game on the Xbox One X courtesy of Xbox Game Pass. The game looked very impressive with solid performance  early on but as soon as I stepped foot into the Geothermal Valley, the framerate suffered. I played it on the Digital Foundry recommended “Enriched 4K” mode and I was none too pleased by that experience. I would have preferred if they focused on getting the framerate to lock at 30 FPS. Rise of the Tomb Raider was supposed to be one of the Xbox One X showcase games and watching the game struggle was disappointing.

I continued to compare Rise of the Tomb Raider to the Uncharted series – I cannot help it. I played Uncharted 4 and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy before tackling Rise of the Tomb Raider so my expectations were inflated. I found Lara’s facial animation odd and distracting during dialog exchanges during (what was supposed to be) dramatic sequences.

One of the sillier aspects of these Tomb Raider games were the rewards. Lara found modern weapon parts deep in caves and knowledge to improve her survivability in texts at the end of tombs. I understand the desire to loop gameplay rewards into collectibles but at least try to make some sense of it. I also found the idea of her slaying half a dozen bears, wolves, and other wildlife to improve her equipment to be extreme. I felt they were stretching the survival angle thin in this game; it didn’t feel necessary once she met up with others.

Lara Croft was at her best doing what she was known to do and that was raiding tombs, solving puzzles, and occasionally fending off mercenaries and vicious animals. When she was interacting with other humans or skinning animals for their furs? I wish it was better realized.

Verdict:
It was okay

Ratings Guide

Checkpoint: Autumn Chill 2018 Edition

posted in: Editorials & Features | 0

October is here again but I’m not quite ready for that crisp autumn morning just yet.

I haven’t been keeping up with these check-in posts because I’ve just been spending more time playing video games with the girlfriend. With a blink of an eye, we’re experiencing our second October together and it’s been good fun.

October also means the arrival of new video games. These are the pre-orders that will be making their way to me:

  • Forza Horizon 4
  • Super Mario Party
  • Pokemon Let’s Go! Eevee
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Forza Horizon 4 will be available to me via Xbox Game Pass. It’ll be my first Forza Horizon game and the first racing game in quite some time. I’m looking forward to giving it an honest go on the Xbox One X.

Super Mario Party will be my first Mario Party game ever. After seeing the shenanigans, the Giant Bomb guys endure, I look forward to checking one out with friends and family.

I think I would have cancelled Pokemon Let’s Go! Eevee if I didn’t get back into Pokemon Go. I own a copy of Pokemon Sun and have yet to put double digit hours in to that so the idea of getting another Pokemon title would have been ridiculous to me 3 months ago. But alas, lots of friends at work got back into it so I reupped.

I don’t know why I am getting Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I own Melee, Brawl, and the Wii U’s release but I don’t think I put nearly enough time into any of them to justify their price tags. And I got Melee as part of a GameCube bundle that I bought of a high school friend.

Those are the games that are coming but I still have games that need to played like Spider-man and Crypt of the Necrodancer: Switch Edition.

What I’ve been playing? Rise of the Tomb Raider for Xbox One X which has some terrible performance hiccups and equally wince inducing moments by Lara. I’ve also been playing a lot of Overwatch (on PC and PS4), and too much of the FIFA 19 demo.

That’s about it for now.

Since it’s October, I’m thinking about returning to Until Dawn to see how many of the delinquents survive. We started it in October of last year but fell off it. Maybe this year, we’ll see it through.

Did I Ask For This?

posted in: Game News | 0

Microsoft’s Gamescom press conference was alright. They showed more footage of Quantum Break, the first gameplay of Platinum Games’ Scalebound and announced Halo Wars 2 was coming Fall 2016. There wasn’t much in the way of mind blowing exclusives but it was worth the check in. I just don’t know if Halo Wars 2 was the best way to end the conference.

Hot Takes!

  • Quantum Break looks neat and if you’re going to feature the actors behind Cedric and Carcetti from The Wire, it’s bound to be pretty good right? I just hope they don’t lose the silly FMV shows like Alan Wake’s Night Springs.
  • The Scalebound demonstration didn’t start as inviting as I thought it would but by the end of it, I bought into Platinum Games’ monster fighting action game. Is it an action RPG? I saw damage numbers.
  • Halo 5: Guardians continues to look neat because of Warzone. I don’t understand why they’re trying to manufacture hype around the competitive “E-Sports” Halo scene though. I never see it mentioned outside of Microsoft’s press events.
  • They keep showing more and more Rise of Tomb Raider and I like what I see but this staggered release between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One makes me extra cautious.
  • Just Cause 3 looks bonkers and that’s probably best term to use to describe it. At this point I’m going to forgo Just Cause 2 and wait for the sequel to arrive and play that.
  • Forza Motorsport 6 sounds like a substantial upgrade in the details department and if I were in the mood for a driving game, I’d consider picking this one up.

And that was Microsoft’s Gamescom 2015 press conference and what I took away from it. Halo Wars 2 doesn’t do anything for me but I’m interested in seeing it in action. Maybe it will be awesome on PC and it’ll convince me to try a Creative Assembly RTS for the first time.

I didn’t ask for it but I’m glad Microsoft put on a good show.

 

LTTP: Lara Croft & The Guardian of Light (360)

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Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Logo

LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.

Wow. I started Lara Croft & The Guardian of Light four years ago. I started playing Crystal Dynamic’s isometric co-operative platformer with my brother in 2010 but a co-op dispute forced us to put it aside and we didn’t go back to finish the final three levels.

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