Rise of the Tomb Raider Review
Languishing in mediocrity for years after her groundbreaking debut, Lara Croft came back with a vengeance in the Tomb Raider reboot. Mixing in elements of exploration with a heavy dose of Uncharted-style cinematic events, that game was one of my favourites from the last generation of consoles. With her new origin story in the books, Rise of the Tomb Raider takes Lara on an all-new adventure. What does she have in store for her next act?
As a full-blown adventurer now, she finds herself in Siberia, attempting to complete her father’s work by obtaining a mythical artifact with world-changing powers. Calamity ensues in ways that you would expect from the new Tomb Raider, but also in ways that will catch you by surprise.
One of the criticisms of the last game was that it leaned a little too heavily on the Uncharted-style action. While the bombastic set pieces were great, there were those who thought it was too much of a departure from the franchise’s roots. Taking the concerns to heart, Rise of the Tomb Raider is sort of a return to form.
Yes, the game has its fair share of spectacular sequences, but the core structure of the game has changed to allow for more open-ended exploration. It feels good to have the freedom to venture off into an environment at your leisure, collecting hidden items or conquering tombs, of which there are more of them this time around. Having that freedom goes a long way towards making this feel like a return to form.
Combat has seen some changes as well. There are no shortage of heavy firefights, but the game has added some more stealth elements, particularly at the beginning of the game. I’m generally not a big fan of stealth in games, but it’s nothing too serious. It’s just enough to give the game a bit more variety. I do wish that the shooting felt a bit tighter, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the experience too much.
Crafting is another big new aspect to the game. Collecting resources strewn throughout the world, you can use these bits and pieces to upgrade your weapons, create med kits, or even make Molotov cocktails while on the run. In particular, the improvised projectiles are a neat addition to the game, even if it feels kind of forced. Like, did the bad guys really leave that many loose cans and bottles in all of these convenient locations?
Much has been made about the Xbox One being an inferior platform in terms of graphical horsepower compared to the PlayStation 4. While the game will likely look better on Sony’s platform, the game is gorgeous as is is on the Xbox One. Everything in the world features a great level of detail down to the myriad of animations that Lara moves in and out of.
I was expecting Rise of the Tomb Raider to become more Uncharted in its approach. Instead, it got better by drawing inspiration from its roots (and a bit from The Last of Us from a cynic’s point of view). Instead of leaning heavily on the theatrics, this sequel excels by making the moment-to-moment experience of adventuring through the wilderness so much better than before. If you have an Xbox One, get this now. For players on PlayStation 4, you’ll be pumped to have this in your collection when it comes out later this year.