Rise of the Tomb Raider is a truly worthy coming of age sequel!
2013 was the year that Tomb Raider was given a fresh start. A look at lady Lara, before she became the Tomb Raider we all know and love. In 2015, we have the timed Xbox exclusive sequel conveniently titled Rise of the Tomb Raider. Has Lady Lara risen to glory? Lets kick things off with the story of the game.
You once again don the role of the adventure hunting Lara Croft who is now coming of age. She isn’t the seasoned Tomb Raider we’ve experienced in past titles but she isn’t afraid to pull the trigger either. This time around Lara is looking for an ancient artefact that can grant immortality, an artefact that her father was looking for before his death. There is of course a secret group called Trinity, that’s looking for it too. What fun would it be if Lara didn’t have any competition in the race to get the artefact? Coming back to the story, it reminded me a lot of the Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life move and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. If I had to, I’d say the story of the game is its weakest point. The narration however is very interesting when you find scrolls and letters scattered throughout the levels. These provide a more personal insight to the motivations fuelling each character and it was a treat listening to these.
Overall the story is what you’d expect but it’s the small touches that keep it interesting.
Moving on to gameplay, it’s the same as the previous Tomb Raider game and that’s a good thing. There are additions of course, but, for the most part the gameplay is what we have seen in Uncharted, The Last of Us, Assassin’s Creed and more. In fact, Rise of the Tomb Raider borrows elements from all of the above games. You also fight a bear in the game. You can’t tranquillise it and send it to your personal zoo like MGS V, but hey, you get to fight a bear. Sticking with MGS V, there are a few of the henchmen that look a lot like the skull soldiers you take on.
Taking a leaf from the Last of Us, you can craft a bunch of weapons on the go like the grenade, Molotov cocktail and poison arrows. The combat in the game is well paced and the level design makes it a treat taking down your foes. Your trusted bow and arrow will be your weapon of choice if you want to take a stealthier approach. There are moments when you will have to shift to your side arm or the assault rifle and this is where the games is a lot like Uncharted.
The level design is good keeping the opportunity for exploration even in confined spaces. The tombs are a special highlight making you scratch your head before coming to the conclusion. The tombs, for me personally, were a great highlight in the game. This time the tombs appear on the map so you don’t have to keep hunting for them and I like this.
Progression is based on equipment upgrades making you revisit areas multiple times.
There are side quests this time around in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Green orbs indicate the side quests you take up and there is no specific waypoint. You can set custom waypoints which glow blue when you press the right trigger.
Tombs and side quests are worth the time, as the abilities and gear you acquire are very helpful. The ability to see traps when you hit the right trigger is one such ability you get from the sidequest.
Upgrades are back and you can upgrade the bow, hand gun, assault rifle and Lara’s skill tree. A cool edition to the game is the ability to craft bombs from scrap you find scattered around the level. It’s reminds me a lot of the Last of Us.
There is a lot of gathering and after some time this becomes tedious. Especially collecting hide from animals. As if we didn’t have enough of that in far cry 4.
The gameplay is well paced between action sequences, gunplay, stealth and exploration with the usual puzzle thrown into the mix. The puzzles are of course amplified with the tombs you raid – pun intended.
Coming to the graphics of Rise of the Tomb Raider, the game looks gorgeous. We have seen Nathan Drake wade through snow in Uncharted 2 and that experience can be found here too. Stand next to fire and Lara will warm her hands, come close to a wall and she will put her hand out to use it for support, so on and so forth. These are small touches that the developers have taken from Uncharted and it is much appreciated.
Coming to the environments, they are beautiful, especially some of the tombs that you visit. There are some effects with lens flare, playing with shadows and the overall look of the game screams dynamic. Even though for the most part you are on one big map in the game, the environments are diverse.
The character animations too are fluid, be it Lara during the traversing sections, the action sequences and even fighting the enemies. Sure, it isn’t the best looking game out there, but it’s definitely in my personal top 5.
Camilla Luddington, the voice actor that plays Lara Croft has truly brought the character to life. From the small sequences at the fireplace where she speaks to herself to the aah’s and ooh’s when she falls and gets hurt, the voice acting for the protagonist is as good as if not better than Troy Baker’s portrayal of Joel in The Last of Us. The voice acting of some of the supporting cast can get cheesy especially Lara’s friends, but that is something that can be forgiven.
Coming to the other sounds in the game, it’s great. From the splash of the waterfalls to the rapid fire sound of the gun and even the swish of the bow and arrow during a stealth takedown, all add to the immersive experience. If you have a great sound system, you will enjoy this game a whole lot more.
To buy or not to buy?
This is Microsoft’s answer to Sony’s Uncharted. Sure, the game is just a timed exclusive and there are no multiplayer modes and once you completed the story, and tombs, there is little left to do unless you are a completionist. If you are one that has an Xbox One and has patiently waited for a blockbuster action adventure game that will make you feel like Indiana Jones, then Rise of the Tomb Raider is the game for you. It has a lifespan of about 20 hours and completionist can go on for a few more hours.
Price: Rs. 4,699 for the Xbox One and Rs. 3,599 for the Xbox 360
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Sameer "Psycho Mantis" Mitha
I live for gaming and technology is my muse. When I am not busy playing with gadgets or video games I delve into the world of fantasy novels.