“Rise of the Tomb Raider” is a tale that transpires in a world where discovery is around the corner. Ancient tombs are chiseled into mountainsides, crypts are hidden in gorges and the remnants of a civilization long passed are scattered throughout the landscapes. Wildlife, both dangerous and peaceful, inhabit the piercing cold in this Siberian adventure. “Rise of the Tomb Raider” is Lara Croft’s finest and most entertaining adventure yet, one that’s sense of wonder and discovery overcomes its flaws.
“Rise of the Tomb Raider” is a journey revolving around Lara’s hunt for the lost mythical city of Kitezh, the Russian Atlantis. Along the way, Lara’s resolve is tested, as she battles for her life against an ancient organization. Speaking of Lara, this game fleshes her out more, giving insight into her childhood years and traumatic past. Camilla Luddington’s portrayal of Lara Croft is once again top-notch, offering an endearing performance. Her interpretation will be the reason players stick with the game till it’s finale. When they see her getting hurt and kicking a**, it lights a certain fire within the player.
“Rise of the Tomb Raider” does a great job of throwing the player into a world full of things to do. One minute, I’d be hunting for deer in order to skin it in hopes of getting my next bow upgrade, the next I’d be climbing up the side of cliffs in search of a tomb nearby. The team at Crystal Dynamics designed an open environment that is actually littered with meaningful tasks to undertake. Whether it’d be taking on mini story-driven side missions or hunting down relics in order to level up your Greek and Russian comprehension. The game makes sure that everything you do benefits the player in one way or another by offering rewards that push Lara’s progression forward. While hunting down documents or caches might be chores in other games, “Rise of the Tomb Raider” takes away from the mundane by having those items reveal glimpses into the past. Stories unfold and more understanding of the game’s story come to light.
The best thing that “Rise of the Tomb Raider” is the sense of discovery and “awe” that comes with it. Discovering a tomb gives a feeling of giddiness, I couldn’t help but smile as I uncovered these beautifully built tombs that actually felt like they had been inhabited generations ago. These tombs also offer the best aspect of the game, as puzzles in each of the tombs offer different unique challenges that will have players scratching their heads. Their design is steller, not being overly challenging but giving just the right amount of queues in order to complete it. A true sense of accomplishment washes over one when victory is achieved over these puzzles, especially towards the late-game ones.
While the world exploration and puzzle solving are fun, the game isn’t without its flaws. The animation feels wonky at times and would cause Lara to jump or move in directions that weren’t intended. Combat can be incredibly frustrating at times. Conversely though, the stealth mechanics in the game are fun, which offered some of the most satisfying gameplay moments. Nothing felt better than using my trusty bow to take out an entire camp of enemies without being detected. But the gunplay is frustrating as all hell. The aiming system doesn’t move fast enough in order to target enemies, and when enemies come super close to you, become impossible to hit. It lacks finesse and is sure to cause many players to scream an insane amount of obscenities at their TV screens.
Lastly, the game’s writing has room for growth. Luddington can only do so much when the games supporting cast are just throwaway characters. The main villains can be bland at times, and while the story itself is good, it has to be measured towards the standards set by its peers. While they take a lot of inspiration from the “Uncharted” series, Crystal Dynamics needs to pay more attention to their way of storytelling.
“Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20th Anniversary Edition” is a re-release of last years game but on PS4 with some new content. New DLC and modes are abound and while they don’t make the game better, they’re a good addition to add some more value to the game
“Rise of the Tomb Raider” is a highly enjoyable game, one that offers the best Lara Croft adventure to date. With a fun world to explore and a multitude of different activities for players to indulge in, one would be foolish not give it a look. Lara has been an icon for 20 years, she’s almost at the top where characters like Nathan Drake reign supreme.