You've probably seen my posts around asking about this. Well, I did indeed pick it up, and I rather enjoyed it. It actually is like they took everything from the 2013 reboot and took it up to the next level. GMG sent out an email (although I'm sure it did the rounds) for 27% off. I was kinda mulling it over, until there was the surprise drop in price as a launch discount, making the game only £35. They've faced some backlash for this move, considering the extra £5 was for a copy of the 2013 game and an extra outfit, but I wasn't complaining. I has just scored Rise for only £27 in the first week of release.
As always, I played the PC version, and the graphics were very, very nice. Very nice indeed. My R9 290 was easily pumping out 60fps with the High preset on in the settings (Very High reportedly requires more than 4GB of VRAM, but I was impressed enough with High to not fiddle with the settings any more. I just let it do it's thing. I could've maybe upped a couple of the settings, but I wasn't fussed). A couple of areas took me to the 45fps mark, but it was hardly noticeable. Besides, it ironed itself out pretty quickly. They were hiccups more than anything. Rise introduces more cutscenes than I remember were present in the 2013 reboot, and it's not a bad thing at all. Very film-like, very nice. I'm a fan of movies, so the occasional breather was more than welcome, and the stunning visuals don't disappoint either. I checked every now and then, and my GPU was always running around the 70C mark. About 67C, 68C. I was surprised, I thought Rise would put it through it's paces a bit more, but I was mistaken. Regardless, display-wise, all very pretty, all very glamourous.
The story this time was a lot more solid than her previous outing. Rather than being a victim of the elements in the reboot, 2013 hardened Lara up, and she's become a bit more tougher, y'know, having seen some shit. This time, however, her first expedition as the infamous Tomb Raider is to investigate the 'Divine Source' - an artifact related to immortality. Of course, she faces her troubles along the way, like your standard action flick. There's a couple of decent twists along the way, and whilst it's still falling as a bit cliche, I still enjoyed it. The character development is a bit better, thanks to the cutscenes, so we learn more of our antagonists - "the ruthless organization known as Trinity" - along with some accompanying motivations, which are plausible enough that I'll let it pass. I'd say it was a bit cliche, but still entertaining regardless. The 2013 reboot took me about 8 hours, and my time is Rise is currently sitting at about 15, with a little bit of sightseeing, so it's fair to say the experience overall is much more consistent, with much better substance to begin with.
Mechanics-wise, Rise introduces a couple of neat ones, like being able to fire arrows into certain surfaces and make your own pathways (for what little it's used for), along with hunting having a bit more purpose. However, there's the major two new ones - crafting, and stealth. Crafting allows Lara to utilise objects in the environment (a bottle of alcohol, a tin can etc) into various weapons (a molotov cocktail, and a makeshift grenade, respectively). This gives some much needed juice to the combat, which is by default, fairly bland. They can be used to lure enemies away, or simply get the jump on them. Play your cards right, and you can eliminate an enemy squad before they know what's hit them. The only downside to the crafting is that she can't keep what she makes. Say you make a molotov. Unless you use it or keep carrying it, you don't get to keep it. Think Alien: Isolation, where you have an inventory for noisemakers, etc. This is the only addition I would make - Lara being able to store what she makes, or i.e. space for 1 of each. Otherwise, the molotov that you could do with in a pinch won't happen unless there's a bottle lying around.
Stealth is the other major mechanic, and is significantly improved from the reboot, where stealth was interpreted as 'to get the jump on them before everyone knows where I am'. There are a number of points where Lara can sneak past enemy patrols entirely, which is a nice thought, and helps break the pace from 'go here, kill that'. I never did it myself though, what with wanting to enjoy the most there was and loot around, but I more than appreciate the objective being there. It works especially well with the crafting, like throwing a molotov from a bush, and the enemies investigating whilst sneaking past them entirely (or opening fire :P). The addition of other guns also is a nice change of pace, so my 'rifle' slot can be for the assault rifle, or a bolt action rifle, or an SMG. It's the same for pistols (although there's not much between a revolver and 2 pistols), and the shotgun I believe, and of course the bread and butter that is the bow and arrow. The crafting significantly improved combat, although there's still a somewhat 'missing ingredient'. Regardless though, it's still alright. Just not stand out amazing. The weapons themselves can also be customized, similarly to the reboot if I'm remembering correctly, but it still doesn't affect the combat too much.
Rise adds in a couple new factors though, for those interested in the level of replayablility. 'Expeditions' allows the player to replay a chapter, customizing the experience with different sets of cards. I haven't dabbled too much, more of a cursory glance at what's on offer, but it's an interesting idea regardless. I suppose the idea is to be able to challenge friends over who can score the most points, but I think that it's slightly 'biting off more than it can chew', so to speak. I could see people participating for fun, but the points system seems a little bit wasted on what little competitiveness there is for an action platformer. Still, I suppose it's a nice addition regardless. I wonder how a player-versus-player multiplayer mode like what was in the reboot and in it's closest counterpart, the Uncharted games, would have gone down for Rise, although I suppose I appreciate the extra effort and resources that went to the main game, improving the core experience greatly over it's very setpiece heavy predecessor.
7/10: Rise continues the core gameplay that the 2013 reboot introduces, along with improving upon it in every way; new and better mechanics, new and better plot, new and better Lara. If you're a bit of a completionist, there's plenty to see and do here; if you're not, then Rise should still have you covered beyond the reboot's short running time. The graphics-ante is also upped severely, and provided you can keep up, the visuals don't disappoint either. Definitely worth it if the price is right.