Rise of the Tomb Raider releases for Steam (PC) tomorrow. For those of you who are part of the master race, pick this game up and reaffirm your decision of spending just as much on a graphics card as you would buying an entire gaming console. If it sounds like I’m taking a dig at the purists for investing their money into their rigs, then you’re not one of us. Rise of the Tomb Raider is an absolutely gorgeous video game that wholeheartedly justifies the investment PC gamers put into their rigs. Not only is it gorgeous, it is an enthralling game with an engaging story, and superb mechanics.
Rise of the Tomb Raider‘s graphics are phenomenal. The textures and details are magnificent, from the powder of the snow to the pores on Lara’s face, it is uncanny how detailed the game is. I am almost embarrassed to show you my screenshots because these are on my laptop and not running the game at full capacity, however these graphics easily outclass that of Halo: Guardians, Batman Arkham Knight (Xbox One) and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition [I chose all Xbox One Games because Rise of the Tomb Raider was already launched on Xbox One].
It’s not just the graphics of the game, but the logic; by logic I mean the effects and nuances that most people do not realize play key component. When walking throw powdered snow, not only is a trail left behind Lara, but a trail in the shape of her footstep pace, which vary from her friend, NPC, Jonah. Other such details include Lara wringing her out when she gets out of the water, or the rate at which her wounds/dirt wash off as she swims. Most games will instantly clean a character as soon as they touch water; Rise of the Tomb Raider seems to at least somewhat calculate the effect water has on her wounds/cleanliness. Lastly, the lighting effects are extremely well done. The transition from a dark tavern to broad day light, vice versa, and in between unbelievably realistic. The game perfectly embodies what it’s like to go through mass adjustments of light right there one screen.
Story wise, I can’t speak too much about it since I’ve only gotten past the first tomb, but it does provide good backstory that is well written and logical. The story expands on the Tomb Raider lore, and does not feel forced. It fills in gaps and questions fans of the franchise may have, sharing with the players not only why you are searching for the artifact you are looking for (The Diviner) but also why Lara has this obsession/need/purpose to raid tombs. It’s also refreshing to see other characters in Lara’s life rather than the decrepit butler who wore bullet-proof armor when I would shoot him [Tomb Raider II Reference].
What the game does incredibly well is fluid camera work. Even great games have sometimes shoddy camera moments, just look at those games I mentioned earlier. However, Rise of the Tomb Raider has yet to disappoint me. Every time missed jump and booby trap death, I knew it was my fault and not the cameras. I do not say that lightly, as I would yell egregious profanities every time the camera messed up my combo meter playing Arkham Knight. But whether it is from running, jumping, swinging, dropping, hanging, swimming, or even a cut scene, the camera is flawless.
The only downside I felt was the aiming while shooting. It’s not as fluid and sensitive as I would like it to be, considering that precision is such a key component while shooting. I don’t know if it’s the sensitivity or cross-hair size, it just seems like a lot more work than most shooter games require. It is far from a deal breaker and would likely be fixed with some configurations in the options. I just prefer when I don’t have to make those adjustments.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is a gaming masterpiece in every category. If you are a PC gamer, this is one of the few cross-platform games that truly honor the PC gamer. If gameplay is your biggest concern, the Xbox One version and the eventually release PlayStation 4 versions will be just as gratifying. However, if you want to really see the art that is embodied in this game, and appreciate the masterpiece in its full glory, PC is the way to go.
Rise of the Tomb Raider Tech Feature explaining why the PC version is more immersive than the consoles