Rise of the Tomb Raider is the sequel to the reboot that came to Xbox 360, PC and PS3 a couple of years ago and was then re-released on Xbox One as a definitive edition. If you managed to nab that for free recently on Games with Gold you’ll know it was pretty good and you may be hankering to play with Lara now she’s toughened up a bit.
This game sees Lara after a hidden source that grants eternal life before some other bad people get their hands on it. Okay the story isn’t exactly something we haven’t seen before in Indiana Jones and other adventure stories but nevertheless it’s an excuse for some tight gameplay, satisfying exploring and collecting and lots of jumpy runny action.
The story begins in Siberia as you face perils climbing up a snowy ledge. Here you learn about how Lara can use a pick axe to grab into ledges by tapping the X button, how to jump and run around the land and how, if you’re not nimble enough, the odd quick time event can lead to your doom. We then flash back to the Syrian border where we see Lara in a warmer climate and we learn about some of the combat she’ll face against armed enemies. Yes, Lara isn’t afraid to use a gun, a bow and arrow and even a knife or axe to kill her assailants, even by sneaking up on them.
She’s actually quite “murdery” in this game. The stealth gameplay is very satisfying as you creep up on people and strangle them with your bow. As you upgrade you can then be more speedy with your kills by driving a pick axe into someone’s back. It’s brutal but it gets the job done. Click the right stick in and you enter Survival Instinct vision where objects you can collect or interact with glow orange – and there are a lot of them! Everywhere you turn there are items to collect but they all have a purpose. You can hunt and collect items to craft items and weapon upgrades with, learn languages so you can discover secrets, dig up coins you can use to trade for better weaponry and go searching tombs for weapon parts to give you some serious kick-ass firepower. It’s also useful for highlighting enemies. One useful addition is how enemies are highlighted. Red means they can be seen by someone else and yellow means they are fair game to take out quietly. It’s a good touch that helps inform who to take out next if you’re going for the stealthy approach.
As you can see, this game is absolutely gorgeous. Cut-scenes flow seamlessly into the game and the level of detail is crazy. Animations seem to be bespoke for every single piece of action, be it climbing over an obstacle or shimmying under a ledge. Water and fire effects are beautiful and this makes the game a joy to play. Lara’s voice is a little over-acted at times but it’s nothing that’s going to spoil your enjoyment here.
Fighting can also be a challenge on higher difficulties. Lara can heal herself and craft items on the fly during combat so you can make bombs and throw Molotov cocktails to even the odds if you find them lying about the landscape. Aiming does seem a little random but it sort of adds to the feeling of firing a gun when you’re not fully trained. There are also puzzles to solve in optional tombs that you’ll definitely want to explore if you want all the cool kit. Rope arrows can be used to manipulate the environment and you’ll have to use your head to get to places you can’t reach at first. You’ll also be able to fast travel between base camps to go back and collect items you may have missed as you gain new tools further into the game.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is an incredibly satisfying game to play. Okay it’s not going to give you hundreds of hours of gameplay but what it does do is make you want to explore the entire map and collect everything you see. Lots of love, care and attention has gone into Lara’s latest adventure and although it may feel a little samey when you’ve put over fifteen hours into it, you’ll still feel compelled to get 100%. Rise of the Tomb Raider gets 9 out of 10.
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