Initially I planned to write a review for Rise of the Tomb Raider’s 20th Anniversary Edition. Not necessarily to analyse the new added content and features, but rather to provide PS4 players an opinion of the title released one year ago on Xbox One.
However, upon reflection, I realized it was unfair for me to write a review on this specific title. I would have unjustly rated it down and honestly, not for the right reasons. So instead, I decided to write this piece: a piece about why some of us hate the games others love.
I want to start by clearing the air.
I didn’t hate Rise of the Tomb Raider. There were aspects of the game I found highly polished and enjoyable. The visual design of the game is absolutely stunning. Even a year after release, the breath-taking Syrian and Siberian environments you are free to explore; mesmerizing. And the daring traversal and climbing segments of the game are on par with the likes of Uncharted 4 and Infamous: Second Son when it comes to quality.
However, I have heard nothing but the utmost praise for Rise of the Tomb Raider amongst other members of the games press. It’s moving tale: the well-developed character of Lara Croft, the exceptional combat and gameplay. I have heard next to no one challenge the idea that this game is worthy of a game of the year award. Yet I disagreed with nearly all of it.
Sure I could point out some positives, but I don’t see Rise of the Tomb Raider as the masterpiece some claim it to be. I found the gameplay far more tedious and less open ended than the immersive experience I had been told about. The story was predictable and yawn-inducing, while Lara herself was far less developed and three-dimensional than I had been led to believe. Frankly, Rise of the Tomb Raider came off as a mediocre sequel with some superb isolated elements. However, I realized just because others loved Rise of the Tomb Raider, doesn’t mean it’s a great game.
And just because I wasn’t a fan, doesn’t mean it’s a bad game either.
Last year, several of my favorite games were critically ignored or panned. I thoroughly enjoyed the slick visuals and deep storytelling that took place within The Order 1886 while others strongly criticized it for its seemingly underdeveloped gameplay. Dying Light was my personal game of the year in 2015. An immersive and atmospheric world, and unique parkour, scavenging and combat mechanics that I spent hours devouring – but many critics judged the game for initially janky controls or overlooked it entirely.
In the same way that I disagree with the masses when it comes to Rise of the Tomb Raider, many have disagreed with games I’ve issued with high praise. There are several reasons for why we, at times, can have differing opinions to large amounts of others.
Timing is a big one. This is partly the fault of the games industry, but partly also our own. You might be playing a game or genre that you’ve been over-exposed to recently. In regards to the specific game, I believe hearing the universal high praise for Rise of the Tomb Raider so close to playing it, built up my expectations to an unfair degree. Whereas I’d heard next to nothing about The Order 1886 other than a few disappointed rumbles, and so found it exceeded my relatively low expectations.
In regards to genre overall, maybe you’ve been exposed to too many games of the same nature. Around the time of playing Rise of the Tomb Raider I had recently played Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and several other third person action games. Therefore not only did I throw Tomb Raider up against my other recent experiences, but I’d also grown somewhat tired of the mechanics I’d been frequenting a lot of late.
For me personally I find that to enjoy many games, I often have to switch up the genres I play to keep things feeling fresh and new. A third-person action game here, a first-person shooter there, a competitive racing game somewhere in the middle. But this is not a tactic that works for all. Some of us explore a myriad of genres while others selectively make ourselves experts at one. So to a hard-core Gears of War fan who prides their ability in third-person cover shooters, The Order 1886 may have felt janky and limited. While to myself, someone who plays all types of games, but mainly for the stories they interweave, I found my experience with The Order riveting.
Finally there is mood. Whether that be a sense of tiredness with playing video games. Whether it be that our personal life is going great. Or whether tragedy has recently struck. Our mood can often effect the digital experiences we have in our spare time. So perhaps there were other things in my life that held me back from truly enjoying Tomb Raider at that point in time.
But my main point is, there are a lot of factors that dictate our tastes and opinions. We don’t all have to love or hate the same things. Whether it be because of our mood, personal tastes or timing, sometimes we just have to disagree with the masses. But that’s okay. Because it’s our diverse range of tastes and preferences that keep gaming so diverse. So maybe it’s okay that I didn’t like Rise of the Tomb Raider. It’s not a bad game. It’s just not for me.
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