Rise Of The Tomb Raider Review

One year has passed since the events of the last Tomb Raider game changed Lara’s life forever. The deaths of her friends and seeing something unbelievable on the island of Yamatai have lead her on a path of discovery, truth and, well, tomb raiding of course!

After uncovering an ancient mystery, Lara must explore the most treacherous and remote regions of Siberia to find the secret of immortality before a ruthless organization known as Trinity. Lara must use her wits and survival skills, form new alliances, and ultimately embrace her destiny as the Tomb Raider.

You start the game atop a snowy mountain in search of The Prophets Tomb, which is believed to hold The Divine Source, an artifact that could hold the key to life. You quickly take control of Lara tasked with following Jonah (her seemingly only surviving friend from the last game) through the snowdrifts in stormy conditions, winds gusting and creating snow flurries around you.

Ground breaking beneath her Lara plummets down which starts the section teaching you the basic game mechanics, if you played the first game you should be familiar with them. Pressing X while hanging precariously saves you from falling, pressing A and the direction you want Lara to go allows you to jump and traverse to different ledges when hanging and using X before you land causes Lara to swing her pick axe attaching to ice walls and certain types of rock. Another helpful move is when attempting to climb walls that are too high, you can jump again halfway up by pressing A which causes Lara to scramble up the rest of the way.

Getting to the top of the section you fell down Lara sees an ancient building, could that be the tomb she is looking for? Before you find out a giant avalanche hurtles towards you and Lara detaches from Jonah and is swept down the mountain. Running, leaping and swinging to try and keep ahead Lara just doesn’t quite make it, snow crashing around her and starting a flashback, showing her in a 4×4 being taken through mountains by a guide, unfortunately our guide friend has tipped off Trinity who greet us with a machine gun blasting helicopter causing the 4×4 to crash and Lara to have to run from the exploding vehicle, beginning our real adventure…

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Controlling Lara feels natural and her movements are made with ease and fluidity. Leaping across gaps always gives you a heart in mouth feeling as you wonder if she is going to make it. Scrambling up trees and jumping to the next is easy and it doesn’t take long to get use to the controls.

The graphics in the game are amazing. Beautiful sunsets over cities, ancient crumbling tombs, to snow covered valleys and even the shine from the blood on her clothes in the sunlight often make you stand still and just look around to take it all in. Sounds also play a big part such as the sound of snow crunching underfoot, creaking of wooden buildings in the breeze, Lara scrambling up sandy cliff sides and wolves howling nearby (which can be rather unsettling as you wonder just how near they are if they are about to jump out and attack you!)

As the game progresses you enter different locations at which you will set up camps which act as save hubs and fast-travel stations for when you want to return to certain areas in case you missed out on any objects. Also you will need to return to areas once you have unlocked items needed to explore, for example once you acquire the lock pick you can go back to open any locked doors you had previously encountered and now open them. Those camps are also where you upgrade weapons, skills and gear with salvage that you collect. There is no mini map on screen to follow, although the game can be paused and the map bought up by pressing the back button, instead you have your survival instincts. You activate these by pressing down on RS which makes the world around you drain of colour highlighting your objective. Doing this also highlights objects in the environment for you to interact with like wood to collect to make arrows, or leaves which are part of first aid kits. You also need to hunt animals for their skins to upgrade weapons.

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Fully exploring the areas is a must, don’t go straight to the objectives. You find backpacks, strong boxes containing extra XP or weapon parts for a new weapon and other documents that will reveal locations on your map of relics and challenge tombs. These extra tombs give you special rewards, like extra skill points for upgrades so it’s worth taking the time playing through them. It can additionally be a peaceful change of pace from the battles you face in the main story. You also come across murals to read and doing so increases your language skills in Russian, Greek and Mongolian enabling you to read stone monoliths which hold information about where coin caches are. Coins are hard to come by and can allow you buy great items from a supply shack in a certain area of the game, such as silencers for your pistols or even a grenade launching attachment.

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In addition to the above there are also native people from the area who are suffering at the hands of Trinity and will ask for your help in tasks, for example disabling radio beacons, in return they may become your allies and reward you with items and in such hostile environments as those Lara goes though I would want all the allies I could get. Make sure to check back with them often as they can have new missions for you.

The style of play is completely up to you. In the beginning you will have your trusty bow and arrows but as you continue through the game you will acquire guns and other weaponry. Will you tackle situations guns blazing or will you take your time by assessing the situation and stealthily pick the enemy off one by one with your bow or stealth takedowns from the cover of nearby bushes? I for the most part preferred the stealth aspect, but you have to be careful about the trail of bodies you leave behind as if spotted this could spoil all your sneaky hard work! Even at the end of the game with all the weapons available I found myself going back to my trusty bow and its by then choice of special poison, explosive or normal arrows. Nothing more satisfying that hearing the quiet swoosh of an arrow whizzing through the air dispatching the enemies before they even suspect what’s about to happen.

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When the story is complete, you are able to go back and scour the island for documents, relics and any other goodies you may have left behind.

Pre-orders though the Xbox Store will receive the Remnant Resistance Pack with consists of the “Remnant” outfit which gives Lara a chance to bandage without using any resources, the “Moon Shadow” Heavy Pistol skin, and the rare “Bullet Resistance” foil card, which gives Lara extra damage resistance to gunfire. Click Here to pre-order.

A season pass is also available by Clicking Here and includes a range of content that will extend your single-player campaign, and also allow you to compete with friends. Three major releases will challenge you to survive the extreme conditions of Endurance Mode, explore a new tomb that houses an ancient terror in Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch, and combat waves of infected predators in Cold Darkness Awakened. In addition, a steady stream of outfits, weapons, and Expedition Cards beginning on Day 1 and continuing over four months will keep you customizing, expanding, and challenging your friends to new adventures.

One thing that is missing from the game is a traditional multiplayer mode, so don’t expect to play the campaign with a friend or be battling it out online against the world. Instead we have an option from the menu called expeditions which have different modes.

Extra Game Modes –

At launch Rise of the Tomb Raider features three ways to replay the events of Lara’s first great tomb raiding expedition. They include:

Chapter Replay: Replay earlier chapters of the story. Complete challenges to earn credits.
Chapter Replay Elite: Replay earlier chapters of the story with your upgraded skills and equipment and complete challenges to earn credits.
Score Attack: Replay levels from the game with a new set of rules. Finish the level quickly for a time bonus. Chain together attacks, movements and collectibles to keep your multiplier high. Complete challenges and collect medals to earn credits!
Remnant Resistance: Replay Hub spaces with a new set of goals. Craft your own missions by choosing the objectives, enemies and more. Once you’ve mastered the mission, challenge friends and the community to beat your high score or play other custom missions created by the community.

These modes will support the new Expedition Cards which grant certain abilities, power-ups, or visual customizations while activated. These cards can be won in-game, purchased with credits found in game, won via the chapter replays above, or bought with real-world money and cannot be used in the main solo-player campaign. There are two types of Expedition Cards: Foil and Common. Foil Cards offer the strongest or strangest variations and can be used as many times as you wish. A Common Card can only be used once, and you’ll need to earn more credits to buy it back.

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Some people may be disappointed with the lack of a true multiplayer, but it was something in the last game that had a fair amount of criticism and I am actually glad that they have chosen to ignore it this time and focus fully on the campaign.

Check out the launch trailer below –

If you played the last game then you won’t be disappointed in this new chapter of Lara’s adventures, if you are a Tomb Raiding novice then prepare to become a swinging, running, fighting, crafting explorer! Remember though, sometimes its hard to tell who is a friend or who is a foe……….

Rise Of The Tomb Raider is out on Tuesday 10th November for North America and Friday 13th November 2015 in the UK.

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