Rise of the Tomb Raider Review: Back into the Wild
A year after her foray into the city of Yamatai, Lara is left with the reality that the Supernatural does exist. Unable to explain, let alone comprehend, Lara turns to her fathers past for answers.Left with nothing but audiotapes, notes and memories, she finds the only solution to be the discovery of immortality itself. To do so, she must find the tomb of the prophet and eventually the lost city of Kitezh. However, another group, an ancient religious order known as Trinity, makes it their sole purpose to stop Lara in an attempt to locate the artifact themselves.
The story is complex and written very well. Crystal did a very good job feeding the story to the player through both collectibles and narrative while also continuing to give a true sense of progression. Some of my favorite moments actually came from a lot of the hidden areas as they fleshed out the ancient civilization that had perished long ago. A major complaint I have is that they don’t really flesh Lara out as much in this entry as they did in her previous journey. A lot of the world evolves around Lara and you start to understand and appreciate the people you meet. They develop so well, yet Lara seems to progress only enough to introduce another character. Apart from this, I was a little disappointed when a character I believed would be highly important ended up disappearing and wouldn’t be found till near the end of the game almost giving nothing to the plot or really the game as a whole.
Whether knee deep in snow, hiding in the brush or jumping between trees, the mountainsides and forests of the Siberian Wilderness are absolutely beautiful. The way the light bounces off rocks in deep caves is mesmerizing. I’ve actually stopped myself a few times in amazement to watch the radiance created from something as simple as glow sticks as they lit up underwater passages. Whether you’re jumping between cliff sides or finding you’re way around an old prison, there is an extreme level of detail and variance throughout each location. Unless you were hunting for collectibles, I did find a majority of the areas to be very linear and only opening up a few times.
Hunting and scavenging are a necessity if you wish to build up your arsenal and increase the amount of items held. Being able to create ammo and med kits on the fly is greatly appreciated and usually meant life and death for those unprepared. A wide selection of weapons gave me the opportunity to approach many fights in different ways, yet I always found myself falling back on the bow. Later in the game, a bow eventually gives a one hit-one kill and is capable of targeting multiple enemies, which made it difficult to reason needing another weapon unless the situation was absolutely falling apart on me. Even then, you only really had issues if you just ran into fight the blind. The enemy AI can be smart at times, yet they usually tend to rely on swarming you in numbers later in the game since many of them become sponges for ammunition. I always found it amusing watching a paramilitary squad become completely decimated by someone just stuck out in the wild.
Overall, I really did enjoy the newest entry for Lara. It had so few small bumps, that it kept steaming ahead in such a way as to make you forget they were ever there. In a genre usually depicted with strong male characters, its good to see one of the original pioneers make her way back and show that she is still the smart, ruthless character that many of us knew her to be.
As of now, this review is specifically for the XBOX One, which released in 2015. Rise of the Tomb Raider will also be releasing for the PlayStation 4 in 2016, yet we are unaware if any major changes will be made or if any new content will be added.