It’s been over 2 and a half years since the release of the first Tomb Raider of the brand new rebooted franchise. It released to high critical acclaim, and enough sales to warrant a sequel which brings us to this Rise Of The Tomb Raider review. The biggest difference this time round is that the game is a timed exclusive for the Xbox One, and PS4 owners will have to wait until next year to get a hold of the game. Is it wait the worth for PS4 owners? Is it worth buying at launch for Xbox One owners. That answer is yes, and I will tell you why in this review.
Base camps return which are basically the hub systems for all your upgrading needs as well as a fast travel destination point. You can can upgrade skills which are split in to 3 different categorises, these are brawler, hunter, and survivor. Each category comes with different upgrade abilities, brawler will give you improvements to stealth and damage resistance. The hunter skill will offer perks like new improvements to ranged weapons. Finally survivor skills will mostly offer a range of crafting improvements.
Base camps are also used for improving all the weapons you own. For ranged weapons you have the choice of improving the amount of damage you can cause with the weapon, the reload speed, and the amount of ammo the ranged weapon can hold. Crafting upgrades for weapons is one of the biggest reasons why you should always take time away to hunt and gather items, as the only way to upgrade weapons is to stock up on the resources required rather than paying for it with an in game currency. Hunting being such a big part of the game brings us to our next feature I want to talk about.
Hunting like the previous Tomb Raider plays a big part in Rise Of The Tomb Raider. Equipment can’t just be picked up all the time from dead bodies, and will have to crafted by Lara. To do this you will need to find the materials necessary to craft the items. Hunting resources are split in to 2 lists, one list for all the common materials and another for items that are harder to find. For example you will find items like cloth and wood a lot so you can make items that are really needed like arrows and bandages. The exotic resources are used for the items that are optional, but the beneficial in making your playthrough easier. Crafting items include a larger rucksack, pouches, and special ammunition like poison arrows.
I really liked how stealth is mixed into combat scenarios with the option of taking the stealth route always being there for you. With this mix in combat it gives the player the choice of how they want to play, do you want to clear levels using stealth? Or do you want to unleash bullets, arrows, explosives, ect on enemies, the choice is yours to make. I also liked that there are times were you really feel vulnerable in some combat sequences and not just like some overpowered character who can kill everyone with ease. The game will throw you in to sections of forced stealth to survive with one small mistake causing an inevitable (not instant) death.
Although I enjoyed the stealth side of things it did come with some small issues like in one part of the game I used a glass bottle to distract the enemies and they didn’t react to the glass smashing at all. It’s little problems like these though that can really cripple what was overall a good stealth system.
Like the previous Tomb Raider, Rise Of The Tomb Raider has a similar level layout which allows for an element of free roaming. It’s not the classic free roaming that you’d see in a game like Grand Theft Auto which is just one big area, it’s split into different regions with each region also having a lot of side activities which we will be discussed more in this review.
Side activities range from just normal side missions, to challenges, and to my favorite part of Rise Of The Tomb Raider which are the optional tombs. If you aren’t familiar with the tombs, these side quests are implemented in the game similar to how the previous Tomb Raider did them. You will be alerted that a tomb is near by, and then you have to actually find the tombs entrance which can sometimes be a puzzle itself. Once you get inside the tombs entrance you then have to figure out a puzzle to reach the actual tomb. I really like the tombs, and I feel it offers a great balance from the high action based main campaign, and gives us that sense of exploration too.
One thought I had about Rise Of The Tomb Raider was that it does feel really similar to the rebooted version of Tomb Raider, but not in a bad way at all. I mean there’s obviously a new location that gives us a day/night cycle and weather options not seen in Tomb Raider, but the gameplay and just the pace of the game feels really similar. I’m actually glad they stuck to what worked well with Tomb Raider rather than changing everything which could have lead to a disappointing sequel.
The Final Verdict
Rise Of The Tomb Raider manages to carry on the success that was started with the rebooted version of Tomb Raider. There isn’t much I can say is wrong with this game other than some minor issues here or there, the story was interesting, the gameplay is fun, and I found it just enjoyable to play through all the optional missions with the tombs being a stand out out of the optional side activities. Microsoft promised a huge end to 2015 for the Xbox One, and Rise Of The Tomb Raider has solidified that statement even more. PS4 users, although the wait sucks I can say it will be worth it in the end as Rise Of The Tomb Raider is a must play for all fans.