Review: RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER (2015)

Discover the legend within.

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Rise of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. It is the sequel to the 2013 video game Tomb Raider, and part of the long-running Lara Croft: Tomb Raider franchise. The story traces Lara Croft as she follows her father’s footsteps and beyond to look for the Divine Source which, legend has it, can make humans immortal.

Is It Worth?

Now that Microsoft has removed its Xbox claws from this and made it available on PC, yes.

A little about the Gameplay

Rise of the Tomb Raider, like all good sequels, builds off its predecessor. Lara’s bow and arrow from the previous game return, but so do other objects (like the grappling hook) from the last trilogy. The crafting system from the last outing also makes its return, but Crystal Dynamics use that only as a foundation. New features are added to the system to keep the gameplay engaging.

Devesh complained last time that the game offered him very few opportunities to go all stealth mode. Well, he’ll be happy to know Rise of the Tomb Raider fixes that. Lara can now hide in bushes, distract enemies, craft all kinds of arrows. The combat system has been, in my opinion, completely redesigned. I was able to clear quite a number of levels without attracting unwanted attention.

Speaking of combat, the game has a much polished system than the last. No QTEs, thank god.

The Good

1: Rise of the Tomb Raider is utterly gorgeous. I do not have a very powerful system so I was not running this at 60fps or whatever, but even on my junk of a PC this game left me stunned many times.

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2: The world is not “open-world” in the sense that it’s a sandbox, certain portions of the world are inaccessible unless you have the appropriate tools for unlocking them, but the game also allows you to come back and explore once you get the tools required. This may cause a little confusion at first since the game has a tendency to pop out a “Missing gear” message at you even though you can clear that level without that gear. However, once you get the right tool, coming back is indeed very rewarding.

3: Apart from the main campaign, the game offers plenty of catacombs and other points of interests to explore.

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Time for some tomb raidering!

4: The developers made a clever decision of switching the environment for this game. Last time, Lara was tugging through swamps and jungles. This time, she’s in the frozen wasteland of Siberia.

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brrr…

5: While the graphics are amazing and the story is fairly engrossing, it’s the level of details that the developers have put in that makes this game so engaging. From the way Lara puts out her hands to warm them over a fire, to her shivering in the cold if you stop moving her, to the way she corrects her ponytail when she comes out of a lake. These seemingly unnoticeable things are what make good games great.

I would also like to mention here how good the game sounds. I mean, the voice actors have all done a good job, no question, but the foley sounds here are fantastic. That crunch sound when you walk in snow is so precisely reproduced for this game it’s unbelievable.

6: While I found the plot to be a bit too predictable, I liked how Crystal Dynamics were able to mesh cutscenes and gameplay together. I came across quite a few moments where the game would not abruptly reset to the default over the right shoulder camera angle after a cutscene. Rather, there is a gradual transition, allowing for some very cinematic gameplay structure.

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Careful, Lara.

The Bad

1: I’m a Tomb Raider fan so this might sound like an oldie’s rant but, um, where dem boss fights at, boi?

Also, why are there so few puzzles in the main campaign? I’ve been told that there are quite a few in the optional catacombs but, come on, a Tomb Raider game that does not frustrate you with some puzzles at least twice during the main campaign doesn’t quite feel right.

2: The game is  not challenging enough. Okay, this is not some “meh, the game’s too easy, bruh” shit, but because the enemy AI is very predictive, the game is a breeze.

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These goddamn bears again!

Conclusion

With Rise of the Tomb Raider, Crystal Dynamics are able to outdo their last outing. The game feels familiar, but at the same time it is so different. It’s a continuation of the Tomb Raider formula, but with a little twist.

PS: My favourite thing about these new Lara Croft games under Crystal Dynamics, especially this new trilogy, is how Lara steals the show. She is now far better characterized than she was ever before.

You may also like:

Review: TOMB RAIDER: LEGEND (2006)

Review: TOMB RAIDER: ANNIVERSARY (2007)

Review: TOMB RAIDER: UNDERWORLD (2008)

Review: TOMB RAIDER (2013)

About Amandeep Singh Virdi

My name is Amandeep Singh Virdi and I love video games among other things that include comics, films, music, and pro wrestling. Follow me @thatvirdiguy on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, whatever.
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