Tombs, Ancient Secrets and Wanton Destruction of Furry Woodland Creatures: Rise of the Tomb Raider Review
Back in 2013, we got the Tomb Raider reboot we deserved. Lara returned to us as a fledgling adventurer struggling to survive after being shipwrecked on a mysterious island. Now she’s going out on her first real Tomb Raid.
Rise of the Tomb Raider was one of the best games I’ve played in 2015. Everything was so well done. This time around, Lara is on the hunt for the mysterious Divine Source, the relic her father had been looking for and ultimately killed himself over. Her adventure takes her to Syria and an area in Russia that was under Soviet control during World War II. The visuals are pretty spectacular. Snow swept ruins, geothermal valleys and dark underground ruins all look beautiful.
There’s plenty to do on the side as well. Over two hundred things to collect, several side missions to complete, and a handful of optional tombs to discover include the bulk of the optional content. The story and roughly eighty percent of the side stuff ran me about twenty four hours of game time, which is pretty modest for a semi-open world game. The developers spaced out the side activities by preventing access to certain areas if one lacked the proper gear, which could be gained by continuing the story.
The story was very well done. I won’t go into much detail, as PC and Playstation users have to wait until November of 2016 to get their hands on this due to a Microsoft exclusivity deal. Basically, Lara is taking on her dad’s work searching for the Divine Source, a power that seems to make people immortal and links to a man known only as The Prophet. As with the previous entry, it starts out normal enough with things becoming a little more supernatural as you near the end.
The game also retained its RPG-like elements from the first installment. Including upgrading Lara’s arsenal with materials scavenged from fallen enemies and slain wildlife and a multitude of skills that can be purchased with skill points earned by defeating enemies, completing portions of the story and discovering relics and documents.
Combat is fairly simple and somewhat repetitive. Lara automatically crouches down when in combat so using cover is pretty simple. You always have a choice in combat to either stay stealthy or go guns blazing, but it’s nice to have a variety. Big explosions are fun. Enemies are sometimes unforgiving, they often rush Lara and get really close, but most use cover. Some also have Call of Duty World at War grenade accuracy. These guys can drop a molotov right on your face from thirty yards.
I ran into very few glitches or issues during my playthrough, the most notable one being when Lara got stuck in her fast swimming animation. Every time I took a dip, she was paddling like a madwoman, but getting nowhere. Nothing a quick reset didnt fix. The other issues were minor clipping problems, nothing major or game breaking, and a little bit of unresponsiveness from our heroine. She would sometimes not grab a ladder or jump correctly when given an input which did lead to some untimely deaths, which reminds me, death animations in the game are gruesome.
Tombs were a nice change of pace from the exploration and combat. Most contained a short puzzle that could be solved in just a few minutes, while some — I’m looking at you Exorcism Chamber — took me a substantial amount of time to complete. But the rewards are worth it. Each of the nine optional tombs give you a special skill that cannot be unlocked by any other means.
Overall, Rise of the Tomb Raider continued to impress, building upon the stellar game released by Square Enix in 2013, while still maintaining the same core elements. I’m looking forward to the next installment, hopefully by 2017. I give Rise of the Tomb Raider a 9/10. If you have and Xbox One or 360, I recommend picking this game up, they are adding a new survival mode on December 29th that will add some replayability. This is in addition to the Expeditions game mode where you can replay chapters of the story with special modifiers like unlimited ammo or a bow that fires chickens instead of arrows. Yeah. Unfortunately for you PC and PS4/PS3 players, you’ll have to wait until sometime next year unless you have a buddy with a One or 360 that you can hang out with and play.