IBox art rise.jpgn 2013, Crystal Dynamics rebooted the Tomb Raider franchise with a compelling adventure, which for the first time humanized Lara Croft, allowing us to connect with her character on a deeper level than ever before. Fast forward to 2015 and in Rise of the Tomb Raider Lara is racing against an organization known as Trinity, who is intent on killing her, trying to discover the secret of immortality.

Game Details

Platform: Xbox One, Xbox 360
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Genre: Action-Adventure
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: M (Mature, 17+)

A race to find the secret of immortality with a cast of characters you’ll love

Following the events of Tomb Raider, Lara is convinced that her late father’s theories on the supernatural and immortality were correct. Having seen supernatural elements that could transcend time, Lara becomes determined to clear her father’s name, who was ridiculed by the media and dismissed by the scientific community, for once and all.

Lara sets out on a journey to some of the most distant and dangerous regions of the world to prove her father’s theories by finding the lost city of Kitezh, and the secret of immortality—the Divine Source. However, Lara is not alone as a merciless organization known as Trinity is also looking for the Divine Source, and will do anything to get their hands on it. Through cutscenes, and logs left behind by Mongolian adventurers, Greek philosophers, Soviet workers, and Trinity themselves; you will be treated to a juicy story that’s suspenseful, and full of plot twists.

While in Tomb Raider Lara was a strong person, she often didn’t know how to deal with extreme situations and struggled to survive. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara comes into the spotlight, as she stands tall on her own two feet. No matter if, it’s a Grizzly Bear, a pack of Wolves, or an environment that is crumbling around her, Lara keeps calm and cool with a straight head.

Rise of the Tomb Raider has a solid supporting cast that helps tell Lara’s story. Most notable are Jacob the spiritual leader and healer of the Remnant, and his daughter Sofia the military commander. You’ll become wrapped up in these characters stories as the game advances and as they interact with Lara. On the flip side, Rise of the Tomb Raider features a brutal antagonist known as Konstantin. As the story progressed, I found that I had developed a love-hate relationship with Konstantin; he is so dastardly but yet charming and smart at the same time.

 

characters.jpg

A stealthier Lara

One of, if not the, most welcomed changes to Rise of the Tomb Raider is the emphasis that is now placed on stealth. Sure, Tomb Raider contained some stealth elements, but for the most part the fight came to Lara. This time around, Crystal Dynamics has given us a whole slew of different options of how to handle enemies.

You now have the ability to take out your opponent sight unseen through a variety of different ways. Lara can hide in the bushes and pull down unsuspecting foes by choking them from behind, or she can topple them from above with a precisely timed attack. Alternatively, Lara can emerge from the water and quickly pull an unsuspecting guard under without making a noise.

If hard-hitting and high-flying action is what you fancy, you can send Lara in with guns blazing, and bodies flying. In contrast, if resorting to violence is not your cup of tea, you can simply distract your foes by throwing cans and bottles to slip right on past them.

 

stealthier.jpg

Redesigned and revamped upgrade and crafting system

The superbly designed upgrade system from Tomb Raider makes its return to Rise of the Tomb Raider; it now contains many unique and new useful abilities. For example, the double shot, one of my favourite new abilities, allows you to line up two targets with one pull of your bow and arrow—making it easy to take out multiple enemies at a time. As a result of the many new abilities, I found myself experimenting between the three different play styles: brawler, hunter, and survivor. Each of these play styles offers a different experience and a dynamic combat environment.

You’ll find activities like hunting animals, and gathering items now serve an important role in helping Lara along in her journey. Rise of the Tomb Raider has an enhanced day-night cycle that means you’ll have to carefully plan when and where you’re going to hunt down certain animals to acquire necessary crafting components. I’ll let you in on a little secret, try to collect at least 10 deerskin around your first base camp before heading out. Crafting a satchel and rucksack will help carry a large inventory that will make it possible to heal, craft arrows, or reload in the middle of combat.

One of my favourite enhancements to the crafting system is the ability to craft certain items on the go. Track down bottles and you can craft Molotov cocktails to throw at your enemies in a sticky situation, or collection poison mushrooms and craft poison arrows that will take down almost any enemy you encounter. You wouldn’t believe how many times crafting on the go got me out of what seemed like a no-win situation. Thank you Crystal Dynamics!

crafting bow.jpg 

 The return of tomb raiding

Rise of the Tomb Raider features more collectables and side missions than in previous games, making exploration more important than ever before. I’ll be honest, the main story doesn’t contain a lot of actual tomb raiding. However, there are nine optional tombs, called Challenge Tombs, which are scattered throughout the game.

Finding these tombs are well worth it, they not only provide some of the best platforming and puzzle solving in the entire game, but you’ll get items that you will not find anywhere else.

tombraiding.jpg

Compete against people from around the world in Expedition mode

Crystal Dynamics decided to forego a traditional multiplayer mode in Rise of the Tomb Raider in favour of an Expedition mode. Essentially, Expedition mode will challenge you by completing various objectives and tasks all the while competing on leaderboards against people from around the world. You will be rewarded with in-game currency that is used to buy packs of cards called Expedition Cards.

If you have played Halo 5: Guardians, then you’ll instantly see the similarities between Expedition Cards and Halo 5’s REQ system. These cards offer many different skills and perks such as increasing the amount of gold you acquire, or enhancing your weapons strength.

expedition-cards.jpg

One of the most visually stunning games ever

Rise of the Tomb Raider sets the visual benchmark for all open-world exploration games. Surpassing Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider in my opinion is one of the best-looking games of this generation to date. From underwater ruins to snowy mountaintops, the diverse environments and landscapes will leave you in awe at how beautifully detailed they are. Get ready to fill your Xbox One hard drive with screen captures—yes this game looks that good!

The Xbox One version of Rise of the Tomb Raider runs at a gorgeous full 1080p resolution (some cutscenes run at 1440 x 1080), and a near constant 30 frames per second. The visuals are a significant improvement over Tomb Raider, and the new motion capture technology truly brings Lara to life like never before. Just take a look at the video below and you will see how beautiful this game really is in motion.

On occasion, when there is a lot of action on the screen such as enemies firing, buildings blowing up, and bombs going off the frame rate does dip below 30 frames per second. Let me reassure you though, these minor hiccups are nothing that will keep you from falling in love with this game.

A top-notch musical score and superb voice acting

Rise of the Tomb Raider features a musical score that supports the narrative of the game perfectly. Cinematic moments are filled with a sweeping pleasant-sounding melody, while ambient music there to get you through the many tense filled moments in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Crystal Dynamics has officially released the Rise of the Tomb Raider Original Game Soundtrack for streaming and download via SoundCloud. Totally cool!

Likewise, the voice acting in Rise of the Tomb Raider is top notch. Camilla Luddington returns as the signature voice of Lara Croft, and does a knockout job. Camilla brings Lara Croft to life with a believable voice, and enthusiasm that will truly impress you.

Final Thoughts

Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best games I have played in recent memory. It features dazzling environments, exquisite graphics, enchanting characters, and a near perfect story mode that will keep you entertained for many hours. All of these elements come together into one package that makes Rise of the Tomb Raider a serious game of the year contender.

Do yourself a favour and pickup Rise of the Tomb Raider today you won’t be disappointed.

+ Eye-poping graphics
+ Captivating story
+ No loading screens in the world
+ Return of tomb raiding

– Lack of a true multiplayer mode

OVERALL

Gameplay: 4.5/5
Graphics: 5/5

Sound: 4.5/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5

Overall Rating 4.6/5 (92%)