Intro and Gameplay
Tomb Raider. What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase? Excitement? Disgust? Digital boobs? Indifference? Honestly, I think I've seen all those reactions when I tell friends and colleagues that I am huge fan. While the first few entries in the series are not my absolutely fave, they were quite ahead of their time, especially the first game released clear back in 1996 (!). I absolutely started loving the series around the Legend time frame and I haven't looked back. While some had written the series off, I found them engrossing, graphically and artistically gorgeous and some overall stellar audio and voice acting. I digress, it's now 2016 and we have the latest entry finally on PC. I never got to play the Xbox One version but I heard great things about it so it was with great anticipation I dove head first into the newly released behemoth.
Honestly, from the very opening moments, I was completely sucked in and at the full attention of Ms. Croft and Co. Following the events of the reboot, Tomb Raider, we find ourselves in a snowy environment that I won't ruin but let's just say that flashbacks and travel around the world are in full force with this title, and it works oh so well. Yep, you practically start with nothing and have to live like something on the Discovery Channel. Before long, you'll be pumping guts full of lead with some heavy hitting weapons. While I think the combat is a bit more polished than the last entry, it's really the return of actual "tomb raiding" that I am stoked about. Reading Ancient Greek to score XP and listening to extremely well done voice over about the killing of an ancient prophet? That gets my nerd blood pumping more than shooting baddies. This is a meaty adventure and a true return to form for one of my favorite series.
Graphics and Sound
321. Three hundred and twenty 4K screenshots was the count I took for this review. I could have taken many, many more but I almost felt like that key was getting worn down. To say that Rise of the Tomb Raider on PC was a towering achievement in the graphics department is a serious injustice and disservice to the artists behind the title. Honestly, this is the best looking game on PC right now, period. Don't believe me? Click on the screenshots in this article and the full 4K version will unfold before your eyes. Those aren't bullshots. They aren't marketing shots. Those are raw JPGs captured from the game and oh is it a doozy. Whipping snow. Blistering deserts. Overgrown ruins. All near perfectly rendered to delight the eye and the geek in all of us. Is it just a pretty looking tech demo? Nope. The graphical prowess just adds to the excitement and really enhances the mood and feeling of the game. Dark, tight caves FEEL claustrophobic. It adds to the tension. This is absolute eye candy that needs to be seen to be believed.
While the visual portion of this game would be at least a 11/10 score, how about the audio quality? Let's just say it matches the visuals. I absolutely adore the way that Lara Croft is portrayed with a combination of confidence, fear, humility and dread, all rolled into a perfect package. Sound effects are as equally impressive and really rock when paired with a good system or pair of quality headphones. My only and biggest complaint about the game comes in this area though. Developers, quit trying to make games so "edgy"! The constant profanity of the original Tomb Raider reboot and this game is off putting. None of the original games nor the entries in the 2000's suffered from this. Yes, mature games are rated appropriately but there are large number of titles trying way too hard by throwing in a constant stream of cursing. Us gamers want an intelligent script, which is present here, it just doesn't need to be peppered with constant expletives. Regardless of that little nugget, this is a top notch audiovisual package that won't disappoint.
Fun and Conclusion
In the end, this is a phenomenal game that is only enhanced by the excellent PC port by Nixxes. Running this incredible adventure at 4K is an experience that should not be missed and I am still geeking out over it. Besides some of the script choices as mentioned, this is one of my favorite games I've played in a long time. It's beautiful, it's exciting, it's polished to a spit shine and most importantly, it's FUN! I love the return to form on the raiding of tombs and exploring old text and history that seemed to be quite lacking from the last title. Lara Croft fan or not, you need to dive in and dive in now to this stunning world that feels more alive, tense, rewarding and just plain fleshed out than any other game in recent memory.