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In the first instalment of the rebooted Tomb Raider, we saw a young Lara Croft use a bow
to fight mercenaries and a death army. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, we see a young Lara
Croft…use a bow to fight mercenaries and a death army. Huh.
While Rise of the Tomb Raider doesn't exactly break new ground with its gameplay mechanics
– in fact, featuring the exact same weapons as the first, for us lovers of archaic weapons
in modern combat, the bow is back!
You can be forgiven if you get the feeling of déjà vu. We see Lara once again stranded
and alone, and the first thing she does is put together a bow made out of bunch of sticks.
This emergency tool is used to hunt, and is soon replaced by the recurve bow that is now
her trademark weapon. As the game progresses, Lara is able to swap out to the modern compound
bow or a horn bow, and various bonus packages unlock alternate skins.
Unlike the previous game, the selection of bows is more varied – though not significantly
game-altering. While the previous game had a linear progression anchored on the bow being
upgraded, all functions are applicable to all bows, which means you only need to use
the base recurve to get through the entire game. What has changed, however, is the differing
stats between each bow type. Compound bows are more powerful but slower to use, while
the recurve bows are faster but weaker.
The expanded crafting system also gives the player more options to upgrade their weapons,
with unique upgrades for different weapon types. As with the last game, the actual upgrades
are fairly tokenistic mentions that make some sense in increasing speed and damage, and
one really shouldn't look into the "how". Just think of it as action-game tropes rather
than realistic mechanics.
Once again, the bow sees extensive use as the main puzzle-solving tool. Very early in
the game, Lara regains use of rope arrows. Apart from creating ziplines for easier navigation
and pulling down barriers, there are many more puzzles that involve some creative thinking
and timing. This is actually one of the more unique gameplay elements of Tomb Raider made
possible using the bow, something that other gun-slinging adventure games don't really
capture. It makes each crypt a unique challenge, making you observe the environment more carefully
to come up with the right solution.
The game also introduces climbing arrows. Shot into soft wood and rock surfaces, these
arrows act as a platform for Lara to climb onto and leap from, and are easily identifiable.
An optional upgrade allows her to plant the arrows by hand, allowing her to traverse these
surfaces without having to lay out a path of arrows.
There are also a number of special arrows. Poison arrows create a cloud that instantly
kills most enemies, and stuns the really strong ones long enough for you to pepper them with
arrows. Explosive arrows do just that, with optional cluster bomb upgrade, and fire arrows,
which…honestly don't do much in this game.
The combat application of the bow has been expanded significantly in this instalment.
As with the previous game, Lara starts with the bow but soon acquires the pistol and rifle,
giving players plenty of options. Combat, for the most part, is a fairly straightforward
affair – aim for the head and win, and early on the bow doesn't seem that useful, given
its single shot and slow follow-up. That said, it is the only inherently stealthy weapon,
making it ideal for sentry takedowns, until you acquire the silencer upgrades for the other weapons.
A number of upgrades make the bow much better, if not the best combat weapon. Lara soon learns
the ancient technique of…uh, holding a spare arrow in the bow hand. And late in the game
this gets upgraded to…two arrows. While it sounds underwhelming, this does allow for
rapid follow-up shots, making up for one of the original weaknesses.
Things really take a powerful turn when you unlock the double and triple-shot skills – ESPECIALLY
with the headshot upgrade. By zooming in and charging the shot, Lara is able to tag two
and later three targets, automatically hitting all targets within a small cone. The headshot
upgrade means all arrows will automatically hit the head for an instant kill, unless they are wearing helmets.
This…is actually way too strong. The fact that you just need to wand over an enemy,
even a single enemy, for a guaranteed headshot kill makes combat a walk in the park. I love
bows and archery, but damn, this really makes the other weapons useless. Apart from some
combat sequences that push you to use shotguns for close quarters, or the heavily armoured
Deathless army that takes multiple headshots, every group of enemies is wiped out with the multi-shot skill.
Just…holy crap. This is awesome.
Yeah, so, obviously I'm going to nitpick on a few things. I shouldn't need to say
this, but sometimes people do draw the wrong conclusions from video games. Anyway, the
multi-shot thing has to be mentioned as implausible. Its just too good, and you can't aim
two or three arrows and guide them into heads that easily. That's beyond even Assassin's
Creed levels of smart-arrow. While it is possible to shoot multiple arrows from a bow, the effect
is more akin to a shotgun, and each arrow has reduced penetration due to the energy
being divided.
As previously mentioned, you can't put cluster bombs on an arrow and expect it to fly well.
Putting Greek fire on a wooden bow with fur lining and drawing the flame to your hand
is really not good for you or the bow. Poison cloud arrows…I suppose could actually work
if you have a way to turn your poison arrow into a cloud. Real-life poison arrows are
based on the arrow point being coated rather than creating a big smoke cloud.
And climb arrows are just outright impossible. With enough grip strength, it may be possible
to jam an arrow into a wooden board and use it as a handhold, but to support the weight
of a person standing and jumping on it? It's a nifty gameplay mechanic, but don't try this in real life.
Just remember that this is a game and it's all about the gameplay, so don't get too
nasty about this. I'm totally fine with being able to do unrealistic things in a video game.
As a game, Rise of the Tomb Raider takes the new formula and…kind of repeats it with
a colder setting. Not necessarily a bad thing, but nothing too amazing. For the subset of
us who like archery and video games, it's an interesting and creative adaptation of
the bow mostly for puzzle-solving rather than challenging combat. If anything, combat is
a little too easy with the new skills. If you're a toxophile gamer, this entry is
worth checking out if you're into the Tomb Raider franchise.
Thank you all for watching. This is NUSensei, and as usual, always aim for your best.
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Archery Popshots | Rise of the Tomb Raider

141 Folder Collection
羅世康 published on December 7, 2018    羅世康 translated    Evangeline reviewed
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