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Shagger Says: Rise of the Tomb Raider (The Very First Shagger Says Review now on VGR!)

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Hi VGR! I present to you the very first Shagger Says review I ever wrote. I'm also publishing the follow up on Uncharted 4 as well. I said in a post recently that the only place to see all of the reviews I had written was here on VGR. I later remembered that wasn't the case and both this and the Uncharted 4 review were still up on another forum I used to grace, but hadn't been put up here. So mostly just to neaten things up, I decided to put both of these reviews on here so we know that the collection is complete and to give you guys an insight into my early efforts to see how you thinks it's changed, if at all. That's why I've put them up exactly as they were with no changes. with the exception of new banners and artwork as some of those seem to have been lost.


Now, when I wrote this review Rise of The Tomb Raider was still an XBox Exclusive that would eventually come to PC and PS4 as well. Just putting that out there just in case something written with regard to it's exclusivity comes up and doesn't make sense now in 2021.


Anyway, thank you in advance for indulging in a little of my nostalgic past. Enjoy both this and the Uncharted 4 review!







To say this game will change your life would probably not be true, but just couple of years after Crystal Dynamics created the critically acclaimed reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise to see it perfected is very satisfying. The best way to sum this is up is to say that this is the first game from 2013 with almost every little bit done a little bit better, and with the first game being as good as was, to make it that much better is not easy.


Despite the first game being well received, this games timed exclusivity and microinstructions announced before the launch has contributed to this games difficult launch. The biggest problem is a very bad launch time right in a crowed of other games, including coming out the same day Fallout 4 on the Xbox One and the aforementioned timed exclusivity that is understandably frustrating for PlayStation 4 and PC owners. However, the benefit here is others can give you their insights on this XB1 version before you guys have to take an unsure plunge into this game. Not that this is necessary, because I would recommend this game utterly to anyone who loves action adventure games. If that's all you need to know, then go ahead and get this game now on Xbox or later on PC or PS4. For the rest, lets get to it.





Obviously I want to keep this spoiler free, and this is my own interpretation of the story.


You, of course, play as Lara Croft set about a year after the events of the 2013 game on the trail of a relic or power her father, Lord Richard Croft, was pursuing before he died in 2003. His former partner, Ana, tries to warn Lara that perusing this relic known as The Divine Source, said to grant immortality, ruined her father's reputation and her looking for it would only drag her family name further through the mud, but Lara is convinced her father was right about the relic's existence and want's to restore his reputation. Her hunt leads her to Siberia and the descendants of the followers of an ancient prophet who have guarded The Divine Source for generations.


Lara is not the only one seeks The Divine Source. An ancient and secretive religious order called Trinity are after the relic and have been after it for centuries. This particular group from Trinity are lead by a man named Konstantin, a mysterious stigmata sufferer with a more personal agenda for taking on this quest. Trinity have enough knowledge and far better resources than the native population and will succeed in obtaining The Divine Source unless Lara get there first.


Lara will have to battle the harsh environments of Siberia, the elite mercenaries of Trinity and win the trust of the local people lead buy a man named Jacob to stop Trinity obtaining The Divine Source and the power to take over the world.


Granted, this plot-line a bit cliché , has been seen before and is not as unique and interesting as the previous game, but is told with writing voice acting that is of good enough quality that it will keep you interested. Camilla Luddington returns as Lara Croft and delivers on of the best voice performances of the year in a video game. There is enough interesting back-story, twists and turns and exposition that I don't want to spoil that you won't necessarily see it coming and you will want to see where it goes.


What I do miss are the characters from the previous game. Jonah is the only one that returns and most of the new characters (which, in total, is much smaller cast) aren't as interesting as the others from the previous game. I also miss that sense of vulnerability that Lara had in the previous game, but I can't blame the game for that given that this is a sequel and she's already been through that stuff, so it makes sense she's a more hardened Lara this time. It's also appropriate that what Lara faced before is more than a straight forward battle to survive and escape against savaged islanders, but this time it's something more potent and personal, so it's a good set up even the story around it isn't that unique.


The ending is also very sequel bait, and that's annoying. Also the first part of the final boss fight is cool, but the second part is not. The set up for it, the gameplay idea, is cool, but's over to fast.


Overall, I didn't enjoy the story quite as much as the last game, but not by much. There are games considered good in terms of story that are worse than this one. Let me put it this way, if the Tomb Raider movies were as good as this, they would probably receive high praise.


Score for Story





Like any game, this is the most important part and will carry the most weight in my final score. The game is very similar to the previous one, so if you've played that you kinda get the idea and so what I'm gonna do is talk about how the game has changed and improved. If you haven't played the previous game, check out The Angry Joe Show's review of it below to give you the basic idea.



Now you should know the basics, here's what's new.


There is a number of new mechanics to the way you control Lara including a rope swing, a wire tied to your climbing axe to grab ledges and also swing between platforms. There also a swimming mechanic that allows Lara to explore both under and on top of the water and dive into the water from higher ledges. You can't really control how deep Lara swims, so it's kinda scripted that way, but the underwater sections are designed so that this didn't bother me and nothing was locked out. There's also a sprint mechanic, a nice new feature, and broad-head climbing arrows you can fire into wooden walls and panels to reach certain areas. The UI for in-game movement has been improved and shows clearly what your rope arrows and other special items are gonna do when you use the control. This is all good as, even though this isn't a fully open world game, it does play more like one with more open exploration than we had before.


This is something you'll want to do as collectibles like documents, murals and other objects don't just give you XP to level Lara for new perks but can also improve your profanity in languages that allow to read carvings and obelisks to find out about other secrets. One of the new things this can lead to is special coins that can be traded in for advanced weapons and accessories that can't be obtained any other way.


The tombs and 3rd person platforming sections are back and are for the most part much improved and more numerous. Basically, they're more challenging with less QTE (In fact, there's almost none of it this time) throughout the game and problem solving that tests you mind a little more. The multitude of new movement mechanics gives more room to create multiple paths to complete a section and even though the game is still quite liner there has been improvement in this regard. All this ties into the survival instincts that offers hints to solving these sections just like the previous game.


One of the biggest changes is to the crafting system to improve your weapons and craft special ammunition like poison arrows, hollow point bullets and grenades. These all require specific components obtained by hunting and scavenging and are also way more dynamic and critical as you know longer obtain simple "salvage" from everything. If you want one tip, do allot of hunting and do not wait to begin gathering as much of this stuff as you can. Some "exotic" animals have to be hunted to obtain the rarer stuff, but these are often also the more dangerous creatures as well, so be prepared for them.


Combat mechanics are more or less the same as the previous game. It's basically a 3PS with a natural cover mechanic with weapons consisting of a bow, rifle, shotgun and pistol to choose from. There is now various types of these weapons that you collect through the game. For example, your rifles include an SMG, assault rifle, bolt action rifle and military spec' carbine that can be purchased using the aforementioned coins. None of these variations of these weapons are really better that the other, they just have different traits and they can all be improved with crafting, so you have to decide what one you want to improve when you have the chance at base camps. The one thing I find annoying about this is that you can't switch between different types of each weapon class in game, it can only be done at camps, but there's more camps than before and you can fast travel between all of them now, so this didn't bother me to much.


Using the weapons in combat is very similar to before, but combat has improved because of much improved enemy AI and more interaction with the environment that even allows you to craft smoke grenades, Molotov cocktails and proximity bombs out of cans, fuel canisters, bottles and radios you find lying around. Like I said, the AI has improved dramatically from the first game making better use of cover, using communication and tactics to out flank and over power you and even learning from your past behavior. The patterns on melee attacks and grenade throws feel less predictable as well and being an elite private army, the enemies are better armored and have better weapons adding more difficulty to the combat. This helps address one of my biggest complaints about the previous game in that it was a bit on the easy side, although Lara is still unrealistically tough and can even bandage herself up in combat now. Frankly, if they wanted to include that, they should have removed or at least slowed the regenerating health. As a result, I'll still call the combat a bit easy, but more enjoyable. So, if you want a challenge, don't play on normal.


Now, time for the elephant in the room, the microtransactions. This is attached to cards that can be used in the expeditions, a kind of challenge mode, outside of the main story. Basically, you can use the card to boost the amount of points you can score at the cost of making the game harder in some way, make the game easier at the cost of points of just activity silly, fun stuff like Big Head mode. You can earn these card packs with credits earned in game buy completing Challenges and Tombs and from doing the expeditions themselves, or you can buy them with real money.


Now, the microtransactions in this game don't actually bug me. Why? Because they didn't bug me. If it wasn't for internet rage about them I wouldn't have known they were there. The meat of the game is the campaign, and because the cards aren't used there, I can't complain. This makes it different to Halo 5, for example, because the microtransactions in that game cheapen the effort people put into earning them instead of buying them. This doesn't. If people really want to get this content more quickly and are willing to pay for it that doesn't hurt you. The rest of us are smart enough to avoid them and it's another excuse to do more play-throughs to earn the credits instead, that's assuming one even has a big interest in the expeditions in the first place. The game is actually has more value to it if you don't buy them, These in-game purchases are not only better to ignore, but easy to ignore, so do that, ignore them. Trust me, they won't bug you.


Basically, this is the old game but better and it's up to a level where it's damn near faultless. The only thing that really got to with gameplay is the lack of a control to use the glow-sticks to light up dark areas. It's supposed to be automatic, but it's triggered by reaching specific locations, not by how dark it is, so I still found myself stuck in the dark struggling to find my way out on a few occasions. Just put in a control to activate the glow-sticks manually as well as the automatic system! This didn't bother me enough to detract from the experience that much, the gameplay is just brilliant here and improved on what was already a truly fantastic game to play.


Score for Gameplay





Now, anyone who knows me on these threads know I don't consider frame rates and resolutions to be all that critical, those are just numbers, they are meaningless in themselves. I like to keep it simple and I honestly don't know or even care what this runs at on XBox One, so anyone wants to know, google will surely inform you, but trust me, it doesn't matter. You cannot boil you sense of gaming down to numbers. Great looking games come from great design, especially in a fantasy. Yes, this is set mostly in Siberia, a real place, but it's the art team's interpretation of Siberia, I don't know how accurate it really is, but what's important is this game is a joy to look at. I was in absolute awe both at the environments and the attention to detail that went into this. The tracks Lara leaves the snow that change direction as you walk, the water and splash mechanics, the facial animations, I could go on, but this is one of the best looking games I have played, and I can only imagine how it might look when someone get's it on PC and runs it on it's highest settings.


Long draw distances, great character models, although I will say there's not as much variety to the environments as the last game, I was surprised at how much better this looks than even the definitive edition of that game. It's all about the little things like the way the trees move in the wind, the weather, the superb sound design just make this game feel alive and immersive.


There were a couple of graphical hic-ups here and there and the game did crash on me once, but my XBox was acting weird in general at the time so it might have been that. Otherwise, the game runs well with no serious frame rate dips I noticed nor problematic bugs. This bodes well for the PC and PS4 versions as well.


Also, whether this is a problem or not comes down to opinion, but the Lara death shots that were almost a Mortal Kombat level of brutal before, have been toned down quite a bit. Whether Crystal Dynamics wanted people to focus on other area's of the game or if they just wussed out and removed them I'm not sure, but it's worth noting.


Overall, it's Gorgeous,



Finial Verdict












Edited by Shagger
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