RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on November 16, 2015
In 2013, we witnessed the rebirth of a star; Tomb Raider got its second reboot, and this time, it was a successful one! We joined Lara Croft on a wild and sometimes emotional thrill-ride, as she explores the mysterious island of Yamatai and struggles to survive its life-threatening terrain and inhabitants, human or animal alike. And believe me when I say that I absolutely loved it! If I had to name one thing I didn't like about this game, it would be that it ended. "It's ending? What the hell was wrong with its ending?!", I hear you ask.
Don't panic; I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the way Tomb Raider ended. It was just the simple fact that it ended at all which upset me. I could've gone on playing it endlessly, just because of the sheer quality of the game and the amounts of fun to be had while playing it! Plus, it helps that Lara is easy on the eyes... So you can imagine my excitement when a sequel to Tomb Raider was announced. And now, the time has finally come to join Lara once again on a brand new quest and witness the Rise of the Tomb Raider!
Set one year after the events of the 2013 game, Rise of the Tomb Raider sees Lara searching for something called the Divine Source in order to clear her late father's name, who was mocked by the archeological society for even hinting at its existence. As is usually the case, she isn't the only one who wants to get her hands on this mythical artifact. A mysterious organization called Trinity is looking for the Divine Source as well, and doesn't shy away from using excessive force to get it. Together with her friend Jonah, she sets off on her latest adventure.
Right off the bat, Rise of the Tomb Raider presents itself as an action-packed adventure. We catch up with Lara and Jonah as they make their way through the snow-covered mountains of Siberia. The environments look absolutely stunning, as do the games' characters. And while the 2013 Tomb Raider looked awesome, Rise of the Tomb Raider takes it a step further, and looks what can only be described as breath-taking. The realism of the graphics has reached new heights and yes, Lara looks even more yummy than ever before!
The gameplay of Rise of the Tomb Raider had basically stayed the same as that of its predecessor, but does feature a few small changes and improvements. The controls feel somewhat more responsive, making the job of traversing dangerous terrain a bit easier. An improved crafting system has been implemented, letting you craft various types of arrows on the fly, without forcing you to return to a camp. Other items, like pouches, do require you to return to a camp before you can craft them. There's even an improvised store, where you can exchange gold coins for useful items that are impossible for you to craft. These coins can be found throughout the game in so-called hidden coin caches. The environment and animals provide you with the materials needed to craft certain items and the salvage crates from the previous game make their appearance once more, providing you with other materials needed to create useable items.
Though the scope of the environment seems to be a bit more compact than in the previous installment of the series (this might just be me, but that's the feeling I get), it still remains truly expansive, featuring stunning vistas, dark caves and cool manmade structures, like a run-down Soviet installation for you to make your way through, under or over. Apart from these cool climbing sections, Rise of the Tomb Raider also features, as one might expect from a game with this title, tombs, and quite a bit more than its predecessor. This, mainly thanks to pleads from fans who thought the previous Tomb Raider game didn't feature nearly enough hidden tombs. Well, they got what they asked for! In Rise of the Tomb Raider, there are Tombs galore, each featuring a unique challenge and its own rewards. The tell-tale sound of chimes still hints at the presence of a tomb in the area, as does a notification on-screen, telling you there is a hidden tomb nearby. These tombs are really well constructed and provide a more than decent challenge for even the most seasoned adventurer. When I first entered such a tomb, I couldn't believe my eyes. I entered an enormous caves, filled with strange machinery. The light spread an eerie atmosphere; walls glistening with trickling water and cool rock-formations defines the cavernous space I found myself in. That, to me, is the essence of adventure, visiting beautiful places like this cave and unravel the secrets it holds.
Not only the tombs are upgraded, the combat system seems to also have gotten an overhaul. This time, it's more suited for stealthy attacks, giving you the chance to use the environment to your advantage, confusing your enemies and enabling you to take them out one by one. If this is not your cup of tea, you can also opt for a full frontal assault. Armed with her bow, pick-axes and various pistols, shotguns and rifles, Lara can really hold her own. Every weapon in your arsenal can be upgraded, as can Lara's own abilities, letting you fine tune everything to match your preferred playing style. While playing the game, you notice the personal growth Lara has gone through since her last adventure. She is over the queasiness she felt when first killing a deer, is a lot more sure of herself and is becoming more and more the tough-as-nails lady we all have known and loved for the past 19 years.
So, if you ever needed an excuse to buy an XBox One, this is it! Rise of the Tomb Raider is a timed exclusive for this console, with the PC and PS4 versions following early 2016 and late 2016, respectively. I personally love Rise of the Tomb Raider; it's everything the previous game was and more. As far as I'm concerned, Crystal Dynamics can keep making Tomb Raider games till the end of time. If they're all as good as Rise of the Tomb Raider or its predecessor, you won't hear a single complaint from me! I mean, come on, this game is everything action-adventure gaming should be. It looks and sounds awesome, plays very well and features an intricately woven story, filled with treason and mystery. If that doesn't do it for you, I don't know what will! So between Tomb Raider and some of my other favorite games in the genre, the Uncharted series and The Last of Us, I think the future of action adventure gaming is looking exceptionally bright. So now, if you'd excuse me, I've got mountains to climb, an evil organization to decimate and tombs to raid. And the best part is that I can do all this and more, AND look really hot while doing it... what's not to like?!