by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
The long wait
Ever since I completed the story in the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider, I was hoping for a follow up title. A couple of years later and Rise of the Tomb Raider was released, but unfortunately for us PC gamers, it was exclusive to the Xbox crowd. With Fallout 4 being released on the same day, it probably suited the bulk of PC gamers anyway, but I was still left waiting for a few months before I could get my hands on Lara Croft. Ummm, that didn’t come out like I meant, but we’ll go with that.
Three stories in one
Rise of the Tomb Raider takes place a year or so after the events of Lara’s experience on Yamatai, and has Lara continuing in her father’s footsteps in searching for the lost city of Kitezh and its promise of immortality. Whilst Tomb Raider had the naïve Lara visiting the tropical locale on Yamatai, the sequel has her primarily in a far more inhospitable location. For much of the time, the lovely Lara will resemble a Wookiee as she faces the harsh icy climate of Siberia.
There is some wonderful storytelling with Rise of the Tomb Raider. There are actually three stories being told throughout the game via flashback sequences, written journals and recordings, and via cutscenes. The flashbacks send Lara back to her childhood, relating the story of her father's quest in searching for the lost city. The journals and recordings tell a historical story of the Trinity and its unending desire to destroy the Prophet, from both sides of the conflict. And then there are the cutscenes, which progress Lara’s present day story. All are deeply enthralling, giving Lara and the other characters a sense of purpose for their actions.
The storytelling is enhanced by the superb voice acting, particularly that of Lara. Emotions are clearly on display. I could close my eyes and would be able to imagine the expressions on Lara’s face just by listening to her voice. The same goes for the other characters. The main antagonist Konstantin can come across as a little wooden at times, but mainly due to his lack of facial expression rather than the voice acting. That is not a fault though, as the visual detail put into the characters is amazing. Even minor details such as the crow's feet around Konstantin's eyes, or the changing nature of Lara's dirt and blood stained face, have not been overlooked. And although much of the setting has a dreary feel about it, being primarily snow covered terrain, you never get the sense that you're travelling over repeated locations (unless you actually are going over the same ground again). Lara will travel over mountains, through forests, in caves and even under water in her search for the lost city.
Despite being bundled up like an Eskimo for much of the time in order to stay warm, Lara still has all her athletic abilities on show. She will run, jump and climb like a trained special forces operative. At times, she'll require the use of her climbing axe to scale higher peaks, and does so without breaking stride. As with the Tomb Raider reboot, she's rather proficient at sliding down and (later on) climbing up zip lines and loves going for a nice refreshing swim in the ice cold waters.
Lovely visuals and wonderful voice acting complement the enthralling storytelling.
Main storyline is quite linear.