When Rise of the Tomb Raider was announced to be a timed exclusive for Xbox One, I almost went out and bought one. That’s how eager I was to play it. But I decided to wait for it to be released on PS4. Now after almost two years of waiting, was it worth the wait? The short answer is yes, absolutely.
The story begins a year after the first Tomb Raider. Lara tries to convince people that her experience on Yamatai actually happened. She discovers her father’s research about a lost city and immortality. After learning that her father gave his whole life looking for this city she decides to find the city herself and return honor to the Croft name. Unfortunately, she isn’t the only one that is looking for this lost city, and now she has a mercenary army after her.
Lara is a lot more experienced and mature in this game. She witnessed so much and now she craves more adventure. Lara is more confident in her abilities and she knows what she’s capable of. Konstantin, the leader of the mercenaries, is the only other character here that is as fleshed out as Lara. He is pure evil, and he believes himself to be chosen by God to find this city and thinks that his actions are for a greater good. The other supporting characters are not as fleshed out but they take up less screen time than Lara or Konstantin.
The best way to experience the story as a whole is to find the hidden notes and tape recorders scattered throughout the different areas. There are not many games where I try to find the collectibles but I found myself going back to previous places to find the different collectibles. They give more background on the different characters that appear in the game and on other characters that were also looking for the lost city but have died doing so.
The gameplay is a mixture of third-person shooting and platforming. The gunplay here is simple, yet satisfying. Lara can upgrade her weapons with the things she finds in the environment and she can even choose different types of weapons here. The platforming is exciting because you have to chain together different moves in order to progress and not fall to your dead. You will go from swinging to climbing a mountain, to swinging again in a matter of seconds. It’s a lot of fun to pull off. The environments are big enough to different approaches to each situation. Sometimes it’s easier to take out all the enemies stealthily and others going in guns blazing. Fortunately, if being stealthy doesn’t work out Lara is a strong enough character to be able to handle any situation.
A big complaint about the 2013 Tom Raider is that there were not enough tombs. Rise of the Tomb Raider has plenty more tombs and they all have different puzzles. These tombs are short but they are satisfying and provide great rewards that improve Lara’s skills. I do wish this game had more tombs and puzzles and fewer gun fights. Good thing the combat is so much fun.
Outside the main storyline, there are plenty of things to discover. Lara can find different treasure, complete challenges, and even accept side missions in exchange for XP and all sorts of gear. Doing these things can extend the length of the game from around 15 hours to 25 hours.
The many locations here are beautiful. They all feel unique from each other. The semi-open worlds are filled with places to explore and dangers to encounter. Whether it’s an abandoned Soviet installation or a dark forest there is always something new to learn and discover. I personally enjoyed the areas that were abandoned by the Soviets. They were filled with old machinery and communist propaganda was spread out everywhere. Even though you return to these locations several times, they always feel new because a new area to explore or mission to accept is available.
My biggest complaint about the game is that the combat and puzzles felt too easy. I never had a hard time-fighting enemies and the only time I died was when I missed a jump or did not avoid a trap in time. I played the game on the medium difficulty so if you are looking for a challenge I recommend playing it on a higher level.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is the best game in the series since the original. With fun combat, interesting story and lots of locations to explore make this a well-rounded and repayable adventure.