Hearkening back to the original Tomb Raider reboot from 2013, I was taken in by the beautiful visuals of the game. More so than that, the gameplay was simple, yet complex, and more intuitive than almost any other video game that I played that wasn’t a sports simulation, platformer or fighting game. My sister and I would find ourselves playing Tomb Raider (me on my Xbox One and my sister on PC,) for hours on end until we beat the game.
Game Name: Rise of The Tomb Raider
Platform(s):Xbox One (Reviewed,) Xbox 360, PS4, Windows
Release Date:November 10, 2015 for Xbox One/360, 2016 for PC/PS4
For me, Rise of the Tomb Raider is no different. It’s an immersive world, full of supernatural themes and characters that make you stop and think about the perils of man’s belief in the extraordinary and how far one will go to get the ultimate prize. Rise of the Tomb Raider is a story…, no scratch that, it’s an adventure of betrayal, beliefs, self-discovery and sacrifice that will entrap you in its vices once you immerse yourself in the experience. So ignore the words of Public Enemy and definitely believe the hype the surrounds this title, continue on reading to see what I mean.
Simply saying that Rise of the Tomb Raider is a masterpiece in terms of game design wouldn’t necessarily be giving it enough justice. ROTR‘s level design, while open and grandiose, is simple enough for gamers not to feel overwhelmed during not only the main story but during the tomb raiding as well. That’s not to say that there isn’t enough complexity to keep you challenged because that’s where Tomb Raider shines just as much as it’s level design. Finding the tombs in the open areas are just as challenging as the tombs themselves, especially since you have to access certain tombs and in-world items after playing through the game to get certain items, such as grenade arrows, the lock pick or the rope arrows, things that you don’t get until playing past the Soviet Installation, encouraging you to play through the story before coming back to get through the tombs for all the hidden items and power-ups.
As engaging as the side quests are, the main story is just as engaging, if not more. Lara gets herself into a similar situation that her father was in several years prior, finding herself to be largely discredited by the scientific community after a shadow organization known as Trinity covers up the discoveries Lara made in the previous entry in the series. Now Lara must uncover the truth behind the organization while challenging her own morality throughout the process.
*Note: For those who played the previous Tomb Raider game, yes, this is the same Trinity that was mentioned briefly in that title. Lara was also able to piece together that Trinity was an organization of sorts if you managed to find the hidden Unknown: Failed Mission document. So it was planned from the start and it’s nice to see that the build up started back in 2013.
Lara as a character is dynamic in multiple ways, and you feel her moral strings being tugged as you play through the story, fully realized by Grey’s Anatomy‘s Camilla Luddington, who does a fantastic job with all of the dimensions of Lara’s character. However, the antagonists are the clear moral opposites of Lara, and they compliment each other well, while all of the other characters just seem like they’re just…well…there? Jacob and Sofia of the Remnant barely add anything to the story, while Trinity’s Konstantin is a cold-blooded character, and Ana has her own selfish goals, which push Lara near her breaking point as a person. The writing is phenomenal, and the actors (it is a gender-neutral term,) again, do well to play off the individual characters’ flaws and highlights.
Building Lara’s skills aren’t much different from the last entry in the series, so there’s nothing here to write home about. Just build towards your preferred play style, and off you go.
Graphically, this game looks stellar. The environments are lush and detailed, and the characters are pretty well designed, as referenced by the video of Lara’s render above. In-game, they really shine, as every bit of ambiance is played up, from the darkness to the caves, to the in-game traps, to the realization that there’s a bear or pack of wolves in a cave by just seeing their eyes pop up as you walk in. My reactions to a lot of these surprises were a testament to how well detailed the game is, and I believe that gamers will be well impressed by all the attention that the designers paid to the game. From an auditory standpoint, the game sounds amazing. Fire crackling, the wind blowing (you can even feel this, which is phenomenal in its own right,) and even the running rivers, streams and lakes all add to the experience. In an audio/visual sense, it’s the complete package.
That being said, there isn’t much in the way of flaws in Rise of the Tomb Raider, except for the language building skills. While finding the text and mosaics hidden throughout the game, building the language skills to check some of the monoliths and artifacts can be a tedious task, as you have to dig really deep for them, and it gets annoying after a period of time.
*Rise of the Tomb Raider was provided to us by Microsoft for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
I don’t know about you, but Rise of the Tomb Raider, while not a complete masterpiece, is pretty damn close to being one in the Action-Adventure genre. Lara is a character anyone can attach themselves to, simply because the moral trip that she goes on throughout her journey can easily be related to, while engaging gamers with a simple, yet extraordinary story-line that can stand the test of time. Rise of the Tomb Raider gets it, and is not afraid to show it. Rise of the Tomb Raider is easily one of the reasons to get an Xbox One this Holiday season, AND if you want to play it right now vs waiting until 2016 for PC and PlayStation 4 versions
- Lara as a character is phenomenally executed.
- Gameplay and design are engaging.
- Story is well thought out.
- The language skill system is tedious.
- Game runs in at 30fps, where’s the 60fps?
- The sequel to the recently rebooted Tomb Raider series shows that Lara still has it
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