Funny that. I purchased this game at release and only now got around to finishing it. The reason is quite simple. I re-visited the first reboot just before this was released. I originally abandoned that due to the annoying QTEs. But by 2015 I've gotten used to those enough to be able to pick up the game again. No, I didn't come to like them, just deal with them and get on with it.
And thankfully it seems that the whole gaming community is in a similar place about QTEs, because there seems to be less of them in most games nowadays. And they're certainly not a gameplay mechanic on their own. And this game is no exception to that regardless of the fact that it is over 2.5 years old by now. But I'm going on a tirade here, where was I?
So I picked up the first reboot again, and gotten to like it enough that mid game I decided to purchase the newly released sequel because I thought I wanted more. Well, as it turns out, I didn't want more of the same. At least not immediately. The game is very similar to the first, so much so that I quit playing after an hour maybe. These aren't meant to be played chained together.
I was meaning to pick it up for a while now. But I only did a few weeks ago. Funny enough I already ordered Shadow of the Tomb Raider. But this time I'm ahead schedule. So by the time that comes out I'll only remember the good bits of this game.
Not that there were many bad bits either. The game feels more complete than the first one. Every aspect is improved and / or expanded upon. Except for QTEs which are completely gone. Well almost completely, there is still one at the end of the campaign.
So gameplay is much improved, and it is very satisfying on its own. Which it has to be, because the shallow story won't carry this one on it's back. Yamatai was actually interesting, the backstory, the ruins, the collectible notes. But this frozen wasteland is the furthest thing from interesting.
Most of the notes are also uninteresting, and the narration is so painfully slow that I often just read the letters myself without waiting for the narration to finish.
So the game has to rely on gameplay for all it's appeal. But thankfully it succeeds there. I mentioned in the review of the first one that pulling down obstructions with rope arrows is oddly satisfying and empowering. Here almost everything feels the same, from melee finishing combos, climbing, jumping, to all kinds of physical things.
It might be getting tedious at this point, because I know this is only my fad, but I have to mention this for my own peace of mind. The character still doesn't look the part. All that jumping and climbing and fighting, and still zero muscle definition. Thankfully the cold terrain demands the wear of baggy clothes and jackets, so I could keep suspending my disbelief. But I just had to check out the commando outfit in the geothermal valley, it was a mistake.
So moving on. There were some aspects of the game that I didn't like. For example the fact that you had to fire alternative ammo by using the middle mouse button. Which was completely awkward for me, I wish you could just switch the ammo type regularly. I have no idea why they did it this way, it makes no sense to me.
Another issue is the dodge / counter combos. The feedback is awful. I never knew when I was successful or not, and never knew why I wasn't. I only realised at the very end of the game that some of what I thought were misses were probably hits, but I'm still not sure. If the player can't get used to or doesn't understand a game mechanic by the end of the game, well then that's definitely fucked up.
I also couldn't figure out how to use double / triple shots with the bow. And the inbuilt guides were meaningless. So that was another skill I never used. I say another, because there are a bunch of skills that are completely useless in the game. Or offer just minor convenience type help. While others are extremely helpful and improve a lot on your chances. And some are just there to increase the number of skills you can get, like the fact that you have to buy the finishing combo skill for every weapon type separately.
I also didn't like the way the in-game counter measures progress. It includes all the freaking meaningless hidden collectibles with equal weight as the main main main quest missions. So according to that I finished the game with 68% progress. Because I ignored collectibles apart from the ones that were on my way. It doesn't matter that I did all the optional tombs, and all the optional side missions. Well almost all, I think I forgot one. This brought the total game time to 21 hours. Which is not that much when I mention that this number includes the baba yaga dlc and the croft manor from the 20 year edition as well (the latter of which was pretty interesting and worth hitting up). The optional tombs are pretty good as well. Don't ignore them if you want some puzzle solving challenges. The puzzles are not that hard anyway, it's just a good distraction compared to the combat intensive main quest.
The game is surprisingly easy. There was one part where I had some difficultly, fairly early in the game where they throw a bunch of enemies at you and you're confined to a small space with no good cover. Apart from that I found the game child's play on the hardest difficulty level. And my skills are not what they used to be. My aiming is sluggish and slow.
What I was extremely annoyed about is the fact that I couldn't max out the graphics running on 2xGTX1080 SLI. In fact I think I had to reduce textures by two notches and hairfx by one to get acceptable framerates.
- Jumping, climbing, combat, all the physical aspects
- Some well designed levels
- Mechanical puzzles
- Lots of backtracking
- Some redundant skills
- never had enough crafting materials to even get close to tier 3 weapon upgrades
- GTX1080 SLI is not enough for ultra settings
- A bit too easy
- The end bossfight was pathetic, like they didn't even do any play-testing, it just felt broken.
- Lackluster story
- Siberia is not very spectacular as scenery for the most part.
overall impression: 7/10
What it gained in gameplay it lost on the story aspects. Hence it gets the same overall score as the first one.
I'm looking forward for the next one.