Or a more appropriate name would've been the shadow of the terminator rambo. But 'Meh' is a pretty accurate description as well.
After Rise of the Tomb raider was a huge leap forward in every respect compared to the first part of the reboot series, this one unfortunately is a step or two backwards in almost every respect.
It started out pretty good, the first few levels were enjoyable, until you reach Paititi the hidden city, where things go from bad to worse very quickly. First you realize that you're not allowed to use firearms near this area, and most of your outfits that you paid for with real money are disabled as well, because the game requires you to wear specific outfits when dealing with the locals, and 90% of the game takes place in this area dealing with the locals. Also here is where you realize that this is not just a stepping stone, or the first of several areas in the game, this is the only hub area in the game. And somehow they managed to make it even duller and less interesting than Siberia was in Rise. I mean it looks better, most of the time, but hell, there is not a lot worth exploring. Interesting artifacts? Almost none. Interesting writings? Even less. At least in Rise there were dozens of logs and journals that offered insights into the legacy and the lore of the area.
The game is much shorter than Rise as well. I completed this in 13 hours, that was 21. But the game felt even shorter than that. The scope feels tiny compared to the previous game. I don't know how they managed to make the maps feel so restrictive, that you actually feel you're walking around in a tiny constrained area each time. Every level and dungeon feels like a tiny corridor. Where there is only one path to take.
And if the invincible aspect of Lara wasn't already overdone, then this game dials it up even further. Sometimes you literally feel like Terminator, in the previous game you just felt like Rambo. It's too much. And not even in respect of the combat, but in respect of the dives, climbs, jumps you have to complete. 98% of them are suicidal even for professional climbers, and Lara still doesn't look anything like a professional climber.
The so called puzzles in the game are not actually puzzles, because there isn't much puzzle solving it's more jumping and climbing to reach the top. The puzzles in Rise were much better designed. They actually felt clever. These are just over designed contraptions, that offer little challenge as puzzles.
And this is the part where I mention their botched attempt at diversifying the difficulty settings. It is completely pointless, because if I want to turn off hints in the game, that also turns off highlighting of climbable ledges and walls. Which is absolutely necessary, since there is no way to read the mind of the level designer which ledges are you supposed to use. And I know the excuse, but you have to find out for yourself, but that just brakes immersion immediately and trial and error is no fun at all. There are some places in the game where there are other obvious options to reach a rock face, that the game simply doesn't allow you to make. It only allows you to make the jump that you were intended to make. Even if it looks 100% impossible. Because if you try the "intended" jump you'll get an artificial boost mid air and can jump distances that would make a grasshopper proud. That is why the game would be nothing but frustration without the white marks. And that is why the difficulty setting system is useless as it is implemented here. I played the previous two games on the hardest difficulty, now I couldn't even try that because of said things.
The skill tree is even more useless than in Rise. I mean most of the skills in it are completely unnecessary and useless. Rise at least had some useful ones related to melee combat. Here I already had difficulty deciding what to spend my very first skill point on, because the available options seemed so useless.
It seems the actually useful skills in the game are now reserved almost exclusively as challenge tomb rewards. Or are tied to game progression. As is acquiring gear. Which results in something very stupid. When you first start the game you go past numerous challenge tombs and crypts that you simply cannot access because of missing equipment. Yes Rise had some of those as well, but there the story took you back to most places multiple times, when you had the opportunity to explore the missed tombs. Here you'd have to backtrack exclusively for the tombs because the story never takes you back. And in contrast to the urgency implied by the narrative, I felt going back to earlier areas for no reason but to explore, would be immersion breaking, so I decided against it.
Quite honestly I feel the game was rushed. There are so many missed opportunities in it. Like the vestige outfits. There is only one, and you can't even wear that one while trying to do missions in paititi. You're given the first one at the very beginning of the game, and the next one at the very end. Maybe I was doing something wrong, but I didn't see any other opportunities to get more of those. And I feel that's why the game feels small as well, I suspect some of the other areas were supposed to be hub areas as well, but were cut down to save time. And the game crashes a lot, especially during cutscenes. There was one particular that I only could pass by disabling DX12.
Another issue I had with the game is the fact that it disables weapons for no reason for certain periods of the game. You're not allowed to use firearms in paititi and during most of the main story missions. But there is one particular level, where it doesn't allow you to use anything except stealth take-downs and melee. And not because the narrative requires you to be stealthy either. Every enemy on this level has a firearm, that you could easily take, but you don't. Why? I'll spoil it for you, so lara can dramatically take up a machine gun near the end of the level and pull a Rambo. I'm not joking either, if that scene is not intentionally trolling you with that, then my name is pinky and it's not. It felt absurd.
But the most laughable is when you reach an area where you can't use weapons. Your weapons magically disappear so you can't even see them on Lara, and when you reach the end of said segments, poof they materialize from thin air. That's a facepalm worthy bug, or double facepalm worthy feature if it is a feature.
The story seems to be on par with Rise, no more interesting. And the ending is well, completely meaningless, and confusing. What did they actually sacrifice? I've read that they changed the ending in a day 1 patch I wonder if it was more clear before.
The final level felt underwhelming as well. I played Rise only a few months ago, so I still have a very vivid memory of it, and it felt much better. Here you barely even have any actual fighting on the last level, until the final bossfight which is just terrible, dragged out and frustrating.
To not just say bad things about the game, the graphics is hugely improved, and the performance is much more stable and I can actually max out graphics and still get around 100fps in 1440p with TAA.
- The jumping and climbing is still fun somewhat
- Feels rushed
- The game world feels small in scope
- You're not allowed to use most outfits and weapons during the majority of the game
- Puzzles are more about platforming than actually having to think about them. Rise was much better in this, even the main story had some great puzzles in it.
- Underwhelming story
- Most of the skill tree is useless
- way to many ex-machina moments
- even more overpowered than before, feels like a marvel movie where the heroes can survive anything
- The way difficulty settings are handled
- Ending / final bossfight makes no sense
overall impression: 5/10
Significantly worse than Rise. I'd wait for it to be discounted to 25-30 before buying. And it's definitely not worth to get the Deluxe/Croft editions either. I doubt any later DLC would change my mind about that.