Lara Croft is one of, if not my number one, favourite computer game character of all time. So I went into this game already loving it with a pretty strong bias. That being said, I can honestly say that Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best all-round games I’ve ever played.
Lara Croft, slightly more battle-hardened from her time on Yamatai, is in pursuit of a lost artefact - The Divine Source. The secret to immortality is said to be contained within the artefact. The locals believe the Divine Source to be a fragment of God’s soul. It is something that her father searched for before his death.
As in the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, this game’s predecessor, the whole game is open for exploration. You are free to search the areas for any of the Hidden tombs that are scattered about. Interesting, and handy, character perks can be achieved when these are solved. However, that being said, some will require certain skills and/or equipment that aren’t acquired till later on in the game. You are free to explore these areas or just power through the main story and come back later.
Trinity are a group of mercenaries who are also looking for the Divine Source. A ruthless man named Konstantin leads them and, although his methods are shady, has good reasons for wanting to find it. These Trinity soldiers are the main antagonists that you’ll find yourself fighting through as you progress through the game.
The world of Rise of the Tomb Raider is just simply stunning. Around every corner of this game I found myself impressed with every level of the world’s details. The glistening water running down the inside walls of ancient crypts; sudden downpours of rain as I quietly made my way through the bushes in enemy camps. The tombs in this game seemed to have had a lot more thought put into them too. Not only were these environments gorgeous in the dim firelight, so too were they more elaborate than the previous Tomb Raider. I found myself taking more time to figure the puzzles out, and on larger scales too.
One of the first large areas you will come across, the Soviet Installation is as gorgeous as it is grim. It’s a large-scale Gulag from Stalin-era Russia which basically means it was a forced labour camp. The reality of what people in these camps, some only guilty of minor crimes, had to endure cannot be overstated. That being said, Rise of the Tomb Raider does an excellent job of emphasising the brutal horror of these places. I didn’t even know what a Gulag was until this game, where I then went and researched afterwards. That’s not to say that the game is depressing at all, it just presents its story on the backdrop of real history. A history that it is very faithful to.
The game does a great job at mixing open-world game play with the more claustrophobic environments. These tighter moments really do create tension in all the right places which is always paid off in the end. While there are a couple of annoying gun fights in this game, the fighting is done with such fluidity that it does become fun after a while.
As with the previous game, you will earn XP and skill points that you can then use to learn new skills. Not only that but you can also find murals and monoliths across the world, which will increase your languages proficiency. Some monoliths will require a higher language level, which will then uncover hidden treasures and tomb entrances on the map.
The weapons too are all available to upgrade as in Tomb Raider (2013). This is done by salvaging parts from wooden crates as well as off the pelts of the mountain wildlife. You can then choose which weapons to upgrade first.
Scaling walls is pretty much the only key ability that remains from the first game. The scaling of rock faces is so much smoother and faster here too, partly due to the fact that she now has two pick axes. Later on in the game you’ll also acquire more interesting accessories that will allow you more spiderman-like qualities.
Rise of the Tomb Raider does a great job at taking what its predecessor set up and elevating it to incredible new highs. Crystal Dynamics have done an amazing job at keeping Miss Croft alive, while making her more human in the process. I’m really looking forward to the next instalment in this series, which may be called Shadow of the Tomb Raider. But only time will tell if this is to be. If it is to be, and they keep on the same trajectory, then the next game is going to be insane.