Crystal Dynamics left many curious in 2012 when they announced plans to reboot the coveted Tomb Raider series. Releasing to a very warm reception, the dying series was jolted with a much-needed shot of adrenaline. Fast forward to current day and they seem to have captured lightning in a bottle a second time. Rise of the Tomb Raider shows the growth and strength of Lara Croft, and delivers in every area it’s predecessor came up short. Rise of the Tomb Raider elaborates on its excellent combat, crafting, and storytelling in ways that push this title to the “must play” category.
The story follows Lara as she searches for the mysterious Divine Power. This artifact possesses the ability to cure the diseased, grant life, and power. The only problem is a rogue agency named Trinity seems to be seeking the Divine Power just as feverishly. Following Lara’s trail, they pursue the Divine Power in an exhilarating neck to neck race. The campaign is delivered in a high-caliber fashion. It personifies Lara as more of a badass this time around and elevates her to the hero we all know. The plot stays further away from the reboot’s supernatural aspect, but still struggles with overstaying its welcome. This campaign would have found its perfect niche if it were only a few hours shorter.
One of the key mechanics to Rise of the Tomb Raider is in its crafting. You gather resources in the environment to create arrows, bullets, explosives, ect. You can also gather parts to create new weapons and attachments. This system is extremely well designed and is done with ease. One of my favorite features is how you can craft while in gameplay. There is no menu, or sub menus needed.
Sometimes it feels almost out-of-place how much of the environment you rely on. It almost feels like the game forgot it’s 2015. While I understand you are far from western civilization, you aren’t completely from civilization all together. I love the crafting, but collecting sticks and string to make a bow felt a little too Tom Hanks in Cast Away style. It feels out-of-place when you have your stick crafted bow in one hand, and a laser-sighted assault rifle in the other.
Control wise, Rise of the Tomb Raider performs amazing. Throughout my whole play time I never felt I lost control of Lara. Every jump, swing, and wall climb all felt extremely fluid and intuitive. The controls are so good I wish other games, like Assassin’s Creed, would take notes and mimic Crystal Dynamics work here. New tools and abilities spice up the spectrum in which you maneuver and constantly keep the gameplay fresh.
Rise of the Tomb Raider’s graphics are amongst the strongest the Xbox One has to offer. The lighting and textures are extremely detailed and realistic. I had moments where I would just stop playing and gaze. From the way the snow lays on Lara’s hair, to the way her glow stick reflects off of her surroundings is simply gorgeous. Lara’s character model and facial expressions are some of the best I’ve seen this generation. Rise of the Tomb Raider is a very, very pretty game.
Crystal Dynamics put forth a fantastic effort with audio and sound for Rise of the Tomb Raider. When you hear the sound of Lara’s boots crunching against the fresh fallen snow, you’ll be brought right into the game. I could almost feel the bow stretching to its limits by the sound of the string crackling and tightening. This is good audio, people. When the sound design can make you feel the action you’re doing, that’s an A+ in my book. Lara’s voice work is remarkable. She could be brought to life through her dialogue alone.
Not many sequels can improve on every aspect of the original, but Rise of the Tomb Raider is a rare exception. Crystal Dynamics made sure to build on the strong foundation they set in place in 2012. The campaign may play out a bit longer than desired and the crafting may feel out-of-place in certain areas, but this is a solid experience. Rise of the Tomb Raider continues to respect Lara Croft’s legacy and is an excellent entry into the series. Xbox One fans, you have another exclusive to be excited about this holiday.
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