Tomb Raider is one of my favorite series of all time, I remember being only 8 and spending my summer break playing this game in my best friend’s SEGA Saturn. There were a lot of reasons why we loved this game so much and why it became an icon in gaming history. What I liked the most was the freedom of movement and the possibility to explore areas that reminded me of the Indiana Jones movies, Lara’s acrobatic movements gave us the feel that we really were in control of the character, while killing a powerful T-Rex gave us the feel of accomplishment and triumph over overpowered enemies.
Rise of the Tomb Raider comes out several years later after the first game, it has luxurious visuals with some of the most beautiful graphics we’ve been offered this generation, it brings back Lara’s freedom to move and explore several areas in the game while covering and shooting human enemies. It is in all a great game but it misses something very important for a Tomb Raider game which is the Tomb exploring. But let’s take a deeper look into it.
I played Rise of the Tomb Raider on Xbox One, I can tell you that I was delighted with the overall graphical quality of the game. It runs in beautiful 1080p, the textures are high resolution, the lightning effects are beautiful and really give a good ambiance to the game but the anti-aliasing seems to not be that great and some edges seem a bit rough sometimes, it’s barely noticeable and has no effect on the gameplay experience. The character designs and animations are very well done but you see that some characters got more attention than others.
Sound and Music:
The soundtrack of the game is quite well made with music that represents the area in which you are, the background music reacts to what is happening around you becoming more upbeat if there are wild animals or enemies in the surroundings and increasing in intensity as you engage in combat, as soon as all enemies are dead the music goes back to it’s original pace letting you know that you can safely go back to scavenging and exploring.
Rise of the tomb raider is a reboot of the series. The plot is about Lara’s quest in finding an artifact that her father sought until the day of his death, of course that Lara is not the only one hunting down for this artifact and a secret organization called Trinity is willing to do whatever it takes to find it before Lara does. It is not a bad plot, it’s consistent but it’s nothing that will really beg you to come back to the game just to learn more details, on the other hand throughout the game you will find recordings and manuscripts that tell you a bit more of the past civilizations connected to the artifact and the misfortunes of those who tried to find it before and this I found very interesting, I was always looking forward to finding the next recording.
Here is Tomb Raider takes a huge turn… Rise of the Tomb Raider is a sort of open world action/adventure game in which you take Lara to very unfriendly parts of the planet and she is required to survive alone against the wild fauna but also against Trinity. To be able to do so Lara can collect several resources throughout the maps that will allow her to craft and upgrade her weapons, her clothes, her ammunition and her own first aid kits. By doing so Lara increases her power to fight enemies, but it’s not just that, the game has some RPG elements to it and Lara gathers XP that can be used to improve her combat abilities, her surviving skills and her hunting competences. Lara can also improve her proficiency in foreign and ancient languages by reading small murals and monoliths as well as manuscripts that she will find throughout her adventure, reading those can lead you to some hidden treasures.
All of this happens in relatively big areas, with some hidden secrets to find, each area has several base camps, these are save havens for Lara to rest and upgrade equipment and skills, these are also used for fast travelling, you can travel from one base camp to another.
It’s also on these maps that you will find secondary tombs to explore, this are usually small tombs with very easy and quick puzzles that won’t get you scratching your head. They do not make justice to the tombs from the older games and sometimes are so far off the main path that you will miss them, on the other hand when you finish the game you have the opportunity to roam the world freely and you can then go tomb hunting.
There are a few secondary quests to do too, these involve gathering some items or killing specific enemies, nothing too interesting but nice to do if you are bored.
Lara has a vast arsenal with her she has guns, rifles, shotguns, a climbing axe and a bow, all these can be upgraded for improved damage, reload time, ammo capacity and so on. Lara can also craft explosives and several types of arrows. Her acrobatics are still impressive and Lara can do more things like shooting arrows with a rope and swinging on them to reach far areas or shooting arrows in wooded walls and use those arrows to climb them.
Other than this Rise of the Tomb Raider really is more of a shoot and cover game with some stealth action to it. You will spend more time shooting Trinity soldiers than solving puzzles, it’s sometimes hard to believe that a young woman can take down so many squads of armored soldiers with only a bow and a few arrows, but hey, it’s Lara Croft!
The few main puzzles you will have to solve are interesting and smart but as soon as you figure out what you need to do it won’t take you more than a couple of minutes to solve them.
As for the performance of the game it runs mostly smoothly with a few frame drops here and there but nothing that affects gameplay, for some weird reason there seem be some frames dropped during cut-scenes but again, nothing too disturbing of the overall experience.
Overall Rise of the Tomb Raider is a very solid game, it does everything very well and will grant you about 20 hours of main gameplay with replay value if you want to clear the secondary tombs. It is a good action/adventure game with beautiful open maps to explore but it lacks the soul of a Tomb Raider. It is clearly a choice from the developers to try and make the game attractive to a broader audience but it leaves Tomb Raider fans asking for more. As always developers decided to solve that with DLC that I won’t cover on this review.