The Tomb Raider franchise burst back onto the scene in 2013 with a reboot that saw Lara Croft starting out in a dangerous world. I loved that game so much I played it twice through, once on PS3 and again on PS4.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is the second entry of the new reboot, and this time has large, explorable hub like areas. Crystal Dynamics have managed to take what made the first tomb Raider reboot so successful and tighten the overall experience. I firstly played Rise of the Tomb Raider back on Xbox One when it was released, and now played through it again on PC. The PC version has some nice upgrades and improvements, that really give the best Tomb Raider experience yet.
Unfortunately, Rise of the Tomb Raider didn’t get the attention it deserved as it was released at the same time as Fallout 4. The game was also only released on Xbox. That was a real shame as this is one of the best games I played last year and would certainly recommend it. This time I played it on PC, which runs on Intel i5, 16GB RAM and a GeForce GTX 970. I played around with all of the graphics settings, and there are plenty of options to tweak and adjust to best suit your system. The game now has improved textures, antialiasing, depth of field and many other options.
Rise of the Tomb Raider starts of fast paced and throws you straight into the action. You play as Lara Croft, along with your friend Jonah. The game starts in the freezing mountains of Siberia. This section introduces you to the gameplay controls and mechanics, whilst looking absolutely stunning. Through the use of cut scenes and flashbacks during the game we learn that Lara is on another adventure to find an artifact, that it supposed to grant immortality.
This time Lara is faced with a new enemy, known as Trinity and the main villain, known as Konstantin. The overall story is nothing that unique or original, but its an exciting race to get to the lost artifact first. The first reboot focused much more on establishing Lara as a character, and we now get to see her develop even further. This time around, Lara is already a strong character.
The flashbacks in the game offer more insight to Lara’s childhood and her relationship with her father. You can also pick up audio tapes during the game, which give more of a back story and depth to the world. The story is decent enough, but it’s the gameplay and presentation that makes it a fantastic game.
The gameplay feels great. You have the ability to take on combat scenarios in a variety of ways, whether its guns blazing or sneaking through water and bushes to silently assassinate enemies. I tended to go for the stealthy approach, and using Lara’s ability to craft items such as Molotov’s, bombs and even poison arrows it made me feel empowered. I loved how you have the ability to craft items and weapons during the action. There are also campfire locations, that act as bases for you to access your character upgrades and abilities.
You can build up Lara to fit your play style. The game has three main skill tress: hunting, brawling and survival. The game has a perfect blend of linear driven sections, that then open up into large hub like areas that allow you to explore. You are surrounded with many side missions, optional tombs, collectables and other things to discover. This is where the game is at its best.
The optional tombs act as a nice palette cleanser, and don’t focus on combat. These are heavily puzzle focused sections, that involve flipping switches, finding hidden paths and using your Survival Instinct mechanic.
These tombs are great as they don’t feel forced, offer a challenge, but are never too punishing. You don’t have to tackle these tombs, but I would highly suggest you do as they reward you with items that not only help you on your adventure, but give more depth to the game.
The game is about learning, improving and then returning to areas with new abilities and equipment that gives you access to new areas. This is where it really reminded me of games like Metroid or Zelda. I got real satisfaction from discovering new areas in previous locations.
Then there’s Tomb Raider’s Expedition mode, which focuses on Score Attacks, Chapter Replays, and other features. You acquire Expedition Cards during the game, which offer weapons and gameplay tweaks.
It all adds up to make for a satisfying campaign that you’ll finish within about fifteen hours on the regular difficulty.
Rise of the tomb raider is simply one of the best looking games I have ever played. I thought the game looked amazing on the Xbox One, but it looks absolutely incredible on PC. The lighting is exquisite, textures are detailed and environments feel believable and varied. There are moments that see you crawling through dark, horrific caverns, which then open up to reveal majestic vistas, that are truly stunning. The new graphic enhancements on PC have set the bar for gaming on PC.
There’s also real attention to detail. Whether its Lara ringing her hair dry after getting out of water, cracking a glow stick in a cave or brushing against walls as she passes it makes the character and world feel real.
The writing too, cements Lara as a strong believable female character, and it’s only made better by Camilla Luddington’s incredible performance as Lara. The cut scenes are very impressive, voice acting is very good and facial animations look realistic. Sound in the game is also fantastic and adds to the overall experience.
Overall, Rise of the Tomb Raider is simply a fantastic game. Lara’s latest adventure is bigger and better in nearly every way. The settings and environments are bigger, the tombs are more varied, the combat is exciting and can be approached in many different ways. It’s a game that certainly deserves more attention and praise. If you enjoyed the first reboot, then you will enjoy this game even more. This is certainly one of the best games on Xbox One, and can now be played on PC. This is a must play game in my opinion.
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