It’s currently Twinfinite’s Game of the Year week! All week long, our Editors and Writers will be nominating games from this year that stood out in 2015. Today, Managing Editor Ed McGlone tells us why Rise of the Tomb Raider is worthy of being Twinfinite’s 2015 Game of the Year.
Rise of the Tomb Raider could have been a disaster but instead, we’re nominating it for Game of the Year. Going into its second game following a new reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider had a lot of obstacles it needed to get over to get where it is now. It was a controversial, high-profile exclusive for Xbox One, its predecessor did well enough to create expectations, and it had to compete against tons of other amazing AAA titles that came out within the same time period. Also, many will hold it up against Uncharted, a legendary series within the same genre. Despite all that, Rise of the Tomb Raider exceeded my expectations.
So much so in fact, that the argument can be made that Tomb Raider, not Uncharted, is the class of its genre now. Many people, which includes nearly all of my fellow, wonderful editors, couldn’t fathom tearing Nathan Drake’s beautiful face from the Mount Rushmore of modern gaming. In fact, the Tomb Raider series might still be floundering like it did for nearly two console generations if Uncharted didn’t come along and give it a model to reboot the series with. The similarities are just too obvious.
However, just because Uncharted paved the way, doesn’t mean that someone can’t come along and do it better. I’m ready to say it: Right now, in the present day, (at least until Uncharted 4 comes out next year), Rise of the Tomb Raider is the best game in the Action-Adventure, Indiana Jones/National Treasure simulator genre. And if you ask me, it’s not even close. And because of everything Rise of the Tomb Raider was able to accomplish, amidst a minefield of other incredibly worthy games, makes it worthy of my nomination for 2015’s Game of the Year
The first step to the solidification of Lara Croft’s comeback this year was the execution of its story. If you’re going to compete with the likes of Uncharted (or any action movie-like game), you need to have a blockbuster, exciting story worth showing off. Rise of the Tomb Raider accomplishes that with ease. Lara Croft’s romp through the Siberian wilderness in an attempt to redeem her late-father was every bit as entertaining as the competition’s offerings, within its genre and otherwise this year. Sure, obviously Rise of the Tomb Raider doesn’t have the density of say The Witcher 3, but more doesn’t always mean better. They both serve completely different audiences and excel in what they set out to do.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is compact, exciting, and has just enough side activities to extend the game’s life, but not too much to the point where it drags on. People who play games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Uncharted never (or at least shouldn’t) go into it expecting 40-plus hours of non-repetitive fun; most people know that you’re getting somewhere between 10 and 20 hours before you’ve seen it all. Any more than that and you’re probably going to be tired of mass murdering henchmen and just want to see how it all ends.
However, Rise of the Tomb Raider added an excellent and beautiful open world that perfectly compliments its linear story. Want to take a break from searching for the Divine Source? Go out hunting and scavenging for new parts to upgrade your equipment. Or better yet, go searching for optional tombs to raid in search of the secret abilities that are hidden there. On normal difficulties, it’s a fun distraction and a means to make you overpowered. For people that want a challenge and want to play it on the harder difficulties, it becomes an integral part of gameplay that immerses you in the whole survival aspect that Eidos Montreal wants to sell you. Another example of fine game design.