As a third-person adventure game, Rise of the Tomb Raider is excellent. Lara Croft returns in search for the key to eternal life. Its an expansive world with plenty of puzzles to solve and enemies to engage. There are plenty of tombs to raid and an evil military organisation Trinity, to overthrow. In your quests with the Tomb Raider you travel from Syria to Siberia.
Admittedly at first chasing the holy grail felt a little trite as an overdone premise. Its like playing a female Indiana Jones exploring some beautifully-rendered ruins. I couldn’t help wondering if there are any places like this left in the world that are so untouched and for intrepid adventurers to discover. However the graphics, puzzles and action quickly push this aside and along with an engaging story line make the game enthralling. There are some heart-racing and gripping moments running and jumping as the pathway collapses beneath you and ancient and deadly booby-traps are waiting to inflict a gruesome death (usually impaling on spikes at the bottom of a pit).
Features introduced in the game’s 2013 predecessor that have returned to Rise of the Tomb Raider, include her survival instinct for finding useful items. At base camp you can update your skills and use items from your inventory to update weapons. You can update Lara’s hunting, brawling, and survival skills. You can collect oil, wood, paper, feathers and animal skins and poisonous mushrooms to craft weapons like poisonous arrows. Find some cloth to stuff into a bottle of booze and you have a Molotov cocktail or use a tin can for makeshift explosives.
There’s a new translation skill that enables Lara to interpret ancient texts and artifacts. There’s an abundance of resources, almost a little too much as it can feel a little like a constant distraction to gather the items you want for crafting. There are plenty of side missions to explore and to expand the game. Every action leads to something more, with new items and abilities opening new areas. Sometimes the puzzles border on frustrating. In the face of overwhelming enemies sometimes patience pays off as you rely on stealth and wait for them to come to you.
I played on Xbox One and the controls are excellent, just as they were in the 2013 game. There is a real smoothness to this game as it switches from playing to cut-scenes and transitions and back. Stealth works great and makes for a really satisfying take-down of enemies. The left button can be used for healing in an emergency. However Lara will recover health back over time without it so you can save your med packs for emergencies. The climbing and jumping on death defying ledges is exhilarating and nerve wrecking as you try to work out the best way to the goal, usually with the ground beneath you collapsing or something coming down on you.
Lara as a character comes across as a damaged girl, chasing the memory and goals of her father, unable to accept his death. She stands out as a game character for her vulnerability combined with tenacity and determination. She shivers in the cold, her injuries hurt her, but she overcomes the enormous obstacles and opponents blocking her pathway, taking down her opponents with brutal, violent efficiency. She has some psychological scars and sometimes it borders on overdone but it draws you in to her single-minded, obsessive quest and you can’t help but be drawn to her and all of her contradictions.
The Rise of the Tomb Raider is available for Xbox One and Xbox 36o. A Playstation 4 version will be available in 2016. The PC version is available as of January 28 2016.
The specifications for PC are:
- OS: Windows 7 64bit
- Processor: Intel Core i3-2100 or AMD equivalent
- Memory: 6 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 650 2GB or AMD HD7770 2GB
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 25 GB available space
Rating: A must play title.