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2015 Game of the Year #8: Rise of the Tomb Raider

This week Shacknews is counting down its top ten 2015 Games of the Year, as tabulated by both staff votes and input from our own Chatty community. At the #8 spot we have Crystal Dynamics' continued evolution of a gaming icon, Rise of the Tomb Raider.


This week Shacknews is counting down its top ten 2015 Games of the Year, as tabulated by both staff votes and input from our own Chatty community. At the #8 spot we have Crystal Dynamics' continued evolution of a gaming icon, Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Steve Watts, Editor-in-Chief: Remember how after a long spate of mediocre sequels Lara Croft had become something of an industry punchline? What a difference a few years makes. Crystal Dynamics set out to revive the flailing franchise with 2013's Tomb Raider, and succeeded beautifully. In this year's Rise of the Tomb Raider, the studio iterated on what works, largely threw out what didn't, and proved this heroine still has plenty of room to grow.

The marquee features seemed directly aimed at fan complaints, particularly the addition of more tombs to raid. For me, though, the standout was the core gameplay loop of upgrades and crafting. I explored every nook and cranny because I wanted--needed--to turn my version of Lara into an unstoppable force of justice. The end result was an archer who would split Robin Hood's arrow in twain. On top of that, Crystal Dynamics accentuated Lara's role as an archeologist: translating ruins by brushing up on ancient languages and adding her own insightful commentary to the staid old audiologs trope. 

Nathan Drake may have stolen Lara Croft's mantle, but this year she took it back. She's not just a lucky adventurer with a too-cool attitude. She's a smart, capable survivalist. Your move, Naughty Dog.

Ozzie Mejia, Senior Editor: Yeah, I love that they made the optional tombs the side missions that they should be, but the incentives were good enough to make you want to take time out to finish them. You could finish the game without them, but you probably don't want to, because they make life a lot easier. And these tombs are worth finishing, because the design and the puzzles are just so well crafted.

Not to mention, they really do play up Lara the archaeologist. It doesn't entirely address one of the biggest issues regarding her character, in that her biggest character trait is still a woman with daddy issues, but it does emphasize her intelligence. It makes the explorer side, the archaeological side, a point of emphasis. Her intelligence is a game mechanic and I love how it logically addresses items you can't read yet as her being rusty. It highlights her knowledge, but doesn't just hand you everything.

And there's just so much to play with out there beyond all of that. That's a huge playground filled with wild animals out there.

SW: I do love how they dealt with the "daddy issues" trope, because that was always a part of the character and they couldn't exactly ignore it. Rise of the Tomb Raider addresses it head-on in a pretty grisly fashion, and without spoiling anything, it lets Lara move past it. Instead of that shadow looming over her for several games, we had one game where she dealt with that baggage and became her own person. As a building block towards a franchise, this was the best way to deal with that aspect of the character and move on.

And it clearly is a building block. Rise of the Tomb Raider gives Lara her own arch-nemesis organization that can be explored over the course of several games. Konstantin was the big-bad of this game, but he's a cog in a machine. What's more, he was a pretty sympathetic cog once more revelations came out about his rationale and background, and that's not something you can say for many action games or even many works of action-oriented fiction in general.

Which brings me back to what I love so much about this modernized Lara. She's representative of a smarter brand of action hero, and that's a trend I'd love to see continue both in this series and in the industry at large.

Shacknews Games of the Year:

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

From The Chatty
  • reply
    December 29, 2015 10:00 AM

    Shack Staff posted a new article, 2015 Game of the Year #8: Rise of the Tomb Raider

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      December 29, 2015 10:01 AM


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      December 29, 2015 10:02 AM

      I'd love to see the vote numbers

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        December 29, 2015 10:03 AM

        oh is this a different list?

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          December 29, 2015 10:09 AM

          This is our staff Top Ten GOTY. The Chatty Top Ten was weighted as one staff member in this list.

          • reply
            December 29, 2015 10:11 AM

            Maybe a change to this is needed?

            This week Shacknews is counting down its top ten 2015 Games of the Year, as tabulated by both staff votes and input from our own Chatty community.

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      December 29, 2015 10:08 AM

      Great game. Honestly worth getting an Xbox for; don't sleep on it on PC next month either.

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      December 29, 2015 10:12 AM

      too bad no one's playing it ;)

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        December 29, 2015 11:11 AM


        Paid exclusives are pretty stupid, particularly in a situation like this where a hotly anticipated game comes out for the system no one cares about which means that the majority of people ignore the game. You can try all you want to build hype up 2 months later but it just won't work.

        I got shat on pretty hard the other day by saying I won't pay full price for this because of the 2 month delay but I honestly won't. I would have easily paid full price on Day 1 if there had been a PC version when the game launched in November, as it stands now I likely won't play it until this time next year when I can grab it for $15.

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          December 29, 2015 11:20 AM

          That makes no sense. It will probably be an ever better game on the PC, and the delay was pretty minor.

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            December 29, 2015 11:22 AM

            It makes perfect sense. It's a terrible precedent and I refuse to support it any developer that does it.

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              December 29, 2015 11:26 AM

              It happens all the time. There was info suggesting that it wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for MS money.
              Don't be InfoBitter; support games you enjoy.

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              December 29, 2015 12:46 PM

              All you hurt, is the odds of a new Tomb Raider.

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              December 29, 2015 2:04 PM

              When they don't greenlight a sequel, think long and hard about your logic.

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              December 29, 2015 3:28 PM

              All it does is reinforce the idea that PC is unprofitable. This kind of spitefulness only hurts the developers and the PC platform as a whole.

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                December 29, 2015 3:45 PM

                I don't buy that.

                Like I've said, I bought the first Tomb Raider day 1 (I think I pre-ordered it honestly) and would have bought this one the same way if not for the pointless delay.

                I have no access to sales numbers but I can only imagine that if a lot of people made the same decision I am (which I highly doubt is the case) then they could see that trend in the numbers and recognize the platform exclusivity was the issue and not draw faulty conclusions about the platform (and lets be clear, this applies to PS4 in this conversation as well).

                If they are genuinely unable to make that distinction then they have far bigger issues.

                Also I'm not willing to commit to PC being a second class platform. All the most popular and profitable games in the world are PC exclusives. That can't be ignored. Additionally cross-platform games that have a solid PC version (ala Witcher 3, Shador Mordor, and many more) sell very well on PC. If companies aren't recognizing the diffferences there then they are just looking for excuses and nothing you or I do will effect that one way or another.

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                  December 29, 2015 3:49 PM

                  I strongly believe in supporting work I love with money. I'll be buying TR2. The idea of punishing Crystal Dynamics never crossed my mind for a second.

                  The thing that would send a message about the PC being worthwhile is actually buying it, not retroactive punishment

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                    December 29, 2015 3:49 PM

                    I also believe in supporting work I love with my money.

                    I don't love work that treats me like a second class citizen. That is my whole point.

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                      December 29, 2015 3:54 PM

                      Punishment by not buying or waiting a year justifies second class treatment. This isn't rocket science.

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                        December 29, 2015 3:56 PM

                        Paying full price after getting shafted supports second class treatment. This isn't rocket science.

                        The only way to say "this treatment is not acceptable" is to do so with our money. I'm not sure what you're finding so hard to understand.

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                          December 29, 2015 4:03 PM

                          I am really struggling to understand your actions. I think most people in this thread are as well.

                          The work is not treating you like anything. The game is coming out on your platform of choice. It happens to be coming out 2 months after it was released on a different platform. Why does the difference in release date matter? Because you wished you could have played it sooner? Even if PC and Xbone versions came out on the same day, it would still technically be a timed exclusive because of the year delay before the PS4 version. Would that be supporting 2nd class treatment? Do you modify your purchasing behavior with all games that have different console or PC release dates (something that has historically been quite common)?

                          It all seems very exhausting and ultimately just results in you not playing games you know you would like and not supporting developers who make quality products.

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                          December 29, 2015 4:31 PM

                          So if the PC version makes less than Xbox that will move developer priority over to PC.

                          You've already made up your mind. "Sure, ok" is all have left

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                            December 29, 2015 4:36 PM

                            Again, this delay was not at all related to platform sales though. It was Microsoft paying for exclusivity.

                            If I'm wrong about that fact then I will gladly admit to being completely misguided and concede the point but I don't see anyone arguing otherwise.

                            I don't understand the thought process that makes you, or anyone else, believe that buying the game at full price will, in any way, deter that practice. If anything it will say that the practice works and the developers can take money from companies for exclusivity and still get full sales on other platforms.

                            If you don't take issue with the exclusive deals, that is fine, but believing that buying the game at full price after such a deal is in place sends any message other than "Keep doing what you're doing" doesn't add up to me.

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                              December 29, 2015 4:57 PM

                              I don't think anybody knows the reason behind the two month delay for the PC release. It has not been publicly disclosed. It's speculation either way.

                              What makes you think a developer would attribute the loss of a sale to the exclusivity deal rather than the quality/appeal of the game?

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                                December 29, 2015 5:07 PM

                                Exactly. Appeal is all they will take into account when looking at sales figures. If it doesn't sell well then they will reduce support or just stop making them.

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                    December 30, 2015 1:26 AM

                    I wish more people shared this perspective on entertainment. Also, I know some devs at CD and they definitely work their asses off.

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                  December 29, 2015 3:49 PM

                  none of the most profitable/pc are pc

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                  December 29, 2015 3:49 PM

                  Companies will not aggressively support PC development when they do not feel it is a strong avenue for profits.

                  What you should be arguing for is for people to buy TR on a platform otherthan Xbox, at full price, to show publishers that the money is in non-exclusivity.

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                    December 29, 2015 3:51 PM

                    How do you figure?

                    That is like saying "Hey we don't mind, you can keep doing platform exclusives and we'll still buy your game, no worries!" which is precisely the opposite message than should be sent.

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                      December 29, 2015 3:54 PM

                      They're tracking were sales come from, so you want them to see strong sales figures on multiple platforms. If you delay the purchase until a price drop, they will not associate the purchase with the platform preference. They'll associate it with the price drop.

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                      December 29, 2015 3:56 PM

                      If PC > XB1, they will give priority. Spiteful boycotts do the opposite of what you want

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                        December 29, 2015 3:57 PM

                        No they won't?

                        This exclusive deal is because Microsoft threw money at them to make it exclusive. It had nothing to do with prior sales.

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                  December 29, 2015 7:22 PM

                  Holy fuck dude talk about PC RAGEAHOL

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        December 29, 2015 12:57 PM

        I started playing it today. It looks fucking fantastic on the Xbone. No reason to wait for PC.

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          December 29, 2015 3:21 PM

          It's a shooter, right? Feek using a game pad for aiming.

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            December 29, 2015 3:28 PM

            It's not like a twitch shooter. I played the first one on PC with a 360 controller without any trouble.

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              December 29, 2015 3:32 PM

              I found myself switching between mouse/kb and a controller depending on the situation, during those long drawn out fighting sections in the first game I'd swap to the mouse/kb.

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              December 29, 2015 3:46 PM

              I have a friend that played through on a console first then later replayed it on PC with M+KB and he said it was like a different game. On PC he was able to approach combat with confidence while on console he felt that he had to be stealthy almost all the time.

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            December 29, 2015 7:13 PM

            It's 3rd person with jumping. It's designed for a controller and plays far better with it.

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            December 29, 2015 7:31 PM

            its an action adventure game, made from the ground up with controller in mind.

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            December 29, 2015 8:23 PM

            Typically, 3rd person games are better with a controller. FPS games are better with a mouse and keyboard. If i played it on PC, I'd play with a controller.

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              December 30, 2015 6:58 AM

              The first one was awesome with mouse and keyboard. I couldn't imagine playing with a controller.

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            December 29, 2015 8:51 PM

            Or you know, you could play it on whatever gaming device you prefer with the control scheme you prefer.

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          December 29, 2015 8:37 PM

          Except that it'll look much better on PC, and on a good one, hit 60+ FPS.

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      December 29, 2015 10:51 AM

      is it better than the tomb raider game from a couple years ago? haven't played that one either

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        December 29, 2015 10:53 AM

        No reason not to try it. It's cheaper than a cup of Starbucks on STEAM right now. It's a great action adventure game / pickaxe murder simulator.

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        December 29, 2015 11:04 AM

        Get it now. It was my GOTY of 2013, and probably the only game in a long time I replayed start to finish.
        The first hour is pretty linear, but opens up a lot after. Excellent visuals, pacing, variety, and gameplay.

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      December 29, 2015 10:55 AM

      Wow, really surprising to see this make the list--a good surprise. You have officially piqued my interest for the PC version!

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        December 29, 2015 11:05 AM

        Not at all surprising if you play it. It's an excellent game. I thought it'd be higher on the list.

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        December 29, 2015 2:07 PM

        It got great reviews when it was first released.

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      December 29, 2015 2:06 PM

      How many top 10's do we have? 3?

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        December 29, 2015 2:09 PM

        Staff and Chatty

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          December 29, 2015 4:42 PM

          Need a Lurker Top 10.

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            December 29, 2015 6:10 PM

            Shacknews Lurkers' Top 10 Games of 2015* as Determined By Lurkers

            Well folks, the votes have been tallied and the results are in!

            10) ______________
            09) ____________
            08) __________________
            07) _____________
            06) _____________________
            05) __________________ (Tie)
            05) _________ (Tie)

            03) ____________

            02) __________________

            Aaaaand *drum roll*
            01) _______________**

            Not happy with the results? Remember to Lurk next year! Thanks again Shacknews, Chatty, and all the Lurkers who took time out to read the poll!

            *Same rules as the Chatty list, no re-releases/ports, no DLC/Expansions unless they stand alone, no unfinished episodic games, nothing in Early Access or similar, and only games released during the window of Jan 1 through Dec 13 2015. Sorry UnderRail even if you're awesome, no love for you. Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star? I would appreciate it if you didn't eat me. Maybe next year the poll will include games during this awkward window?


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      December 29, 2015 2:40 PM

      Cool, it's in my top 5. I'm about half way through and it's awesome. Looking forward to the PC release for another go.

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      December 29, 2015 2:46 PM

      On the fence about buying early for the XBOX 360 (because I want to play it so bad) and then eventually getting it for the platform it should have been made for (PS4).

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        December 29, 2015 3:16 PM

        The platform every game should be made for is PC! Consoles should come later or at the same time. Luckily the PC version is right around the corner.

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        December 29, 2015 3:50 PM

        Lol should be made for

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      December 29, 2015 4:01 PM

      Really looking forward to the PC release.

      The reboot is one of my fav games. Played through 3 or 4 times.

      • rms legacy 10 years legacy 20 years mercury super mega
        December 30, 2015 12:27 PM

        Only one playthrough for me, but I 100%'d it and enjoyed every minute. Since many 2016 releases have been delayed, I'm thinking this is a day one purchase for me

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