Microsoft has dubbed 2015 as the year of “the greatest games lineup in Xbox history”! And with the addition of Rise of the Tomb Raider, they couldn’t be any more right! This is the second title in the successfully rebooted Tomb Raider series, and after playing only 2 hours of this action-packed and remarkable adventure, it definitely succeeds its predecessor!
From the moment you start the game, you are automatically launched into an incredible adventure, in which you, playing as the amazing Lara Croft, have to survive! There aren’t any training wheels (especially if you choose a higher difficulty), and right off the bat, you have to be quick, mash the correct buttons, at the right time, or else you may fall and die, or get impaled by a trap, and have to start over from the checkpoint. The game’s ability to flow from cut-scene to gameplay is pretty solid, and like the Uncharted series, you feel like you’re a part of an Indiana Jones-type of film!
After a crazy introduction, our story begins a year after the events of the previous game. No one believes Lara about the events that happened back in Yamatai, and her heart is set on proving what she saw was real. Lara discovers though her father’s research that finding the secret to immortality lies within the prophet’s tomb, which is located in Syria. But along the way, she learns of an organization called Trinity, who are trying to kill her because of what she knows. But their threats don’t stop her! Instead, Lara and her friend Jonah, set off to Siberia, in order to find the lost city of Kitezh! Unfortunately for Lara, along the way she falls off a cliff (as we learn in the playable intro), and is stranded in the wilderness and bitter cold, forced to survive the harsh weather, dangerous enemies, and somehow find her way back!
This game is loaded with tons of challenging puzzles, traps and a ton of artifacts to find, within each of the locations. It’s an essential characteristic that makes any Tomb Raider game. Another feature I absolutely loved about Rise of the Tomb Raider is the ability to craft weapons, articles of clothing, and develop a skill tree, all based on survival. You can choose from three different aspects (Survivor, Hunter and Brawler), based on how you, the player, prefer to play the game. Survivor kills are mixed, and deal more so with looting and scavenging, Hunter skills are based around ranged weapons, and Brawler skills involve more of the melee and dodging aspects.
That brings me to the combat; it’s simple and not really anything special, but I still enjoyed it and had a lot of fun with it. One minute you could be exploring and gathering resources, and the next minute, an enemy (even a bear!) could pop out at you, and it’s go time. After the initial level/tutorial, you are given a pistol just to give you an idea of how the mechanics work, but once you are stranded out in the wilderness, you end up with a bow. The neat thing about the bow is the whole crafting system, and the ability to go out and scavenge wood and materials in order to create it.
Lara is an incredible character, the developers (Crystal Dynamics) really designed her to be an ultimate survivalist. I actually felt so sorry for her, every time I accidentally fell, or hurt myself because she would scream and make it believable that she was hurt, but continued to move on regardless. Her acting (portrayed by actress Camilla Luddington) was excellent, and not at all forced, and she brought a lot of emotion to the role, especially when talking about how important it was to continue her quest for her father, and how she knew exactly what she needed to do to go on. It’s great to see a female character who can stand on her own, and isn’t afraid to go the distance and suffer through it, not to mention be able to live through the hardships, and live to tell the tale!
I’m having a hard time finding anything wrong with Rise of the Tomb Raider. It’s an excellent, well-developed story, with fun game mechanics, gorgeous environments, and beautiful character development. The only problem was the game’s release date, as it coincided with Fallout 4. I’m sure the release of Fallout 4 on the same day affected the game’s sales, which is unfortunate, because even though they are two different genres and styles of games, Rise of the Tomb Raider is an excellent title, and shouldn’t be rushed. One word to describe this game is just “stunning”. Easily, one of the BEST titles released in 2015!
Rise of the Tomb Raider is available now for Xbox One and Xbox 360!
January 30 – Bobby here – we’re adding in our review of the PC version of Rise of the Tomb Raider below:
My experience with Rise of the Tomb Raider on PC begins with my computer, while it is a few years old, I still have minimal issues with games. My PC runs on an Intel i5-3470 @ 3.20GHz with 8GB RAM on Windows 10 64bit, and AMD Radeon HD 7870 Tahiti Edition GPU on AMD’s latest official drivers.
I had no trouble running the game at 1920 x1080 with a steady 30 FPS with everything maxed in the Graphics tab. The game did hiccup when changing from gameplay to cut scene and back crashing once in the introduction level.
Everything you see looks much more detailed, textures are better, shadows are dynamic, lighting in game feels so natural, the trees and rocks are brimming with textures – everything is enhanced!
But this is the subtlety of a PC port – you get to see the world grow in scope too, this isn’t obtainable just yet on a console; a system that has a locked set of components has no room to evolve.
I tried to play the game with a keyboard and mouse configuration and found that the setup just doesn’t work for Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara felt less responsive than when played using a gamepad for the PC. I recommend the intuitiveness of a gamepad for this one.
I whole-heartedly recommend Rise of the Tomb Raider. The PC version is going to be the best Crystal Dynamics has to offer to you, but if you can’t make the switch to PC or just want to stick to your preferred console, please go ahead and play this game and enjoy each minute exploring. It is worth it.