Creating a good sequel is difficult. It needs to be able to improve on the established success of its predecessor while simultaneously fixing everything that was wrong with it. It’s tasked with making progress while holding onto the past – a near impossible feat in a medium where individual parts aren’t easily stripped and changed without consequence to the rest of the system. Making the perfect sequel is nearly impossible.

Rise of the Tomb Raider, however, is exactly that in every sense of the word. It’s bigger, bolder and a far more engrossing outing for Lara Croft in her latest expedition. It’s a game that will probably define her future for year to come.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Review

It starts with expected change though. Gone is the fragile, almost novice Lara Croft, replaced by a determined archaeologist who has a fiercer taste for the unknown after her supernatural experiences on her last outing. Seeing the impossible has led Lara to question a lot in her life – but no more than the once insane ramblings of her beloved father before his unexpected passing prior to the events of the first game. Lara is more determined than ever to prove the impossible now, clearing her father’s name and reinstating Croft into a more favourable side of history.

What this involves seems just as absurd, and it’s difficult not to wonder if Lara’s father was indeed mad at the outset. The late Lord Croft was on the trail of immortality, seeking out the legendary city of Kitehz in pursuit of The Divine Source – a religious artefact that possesses the power to cure all sickness, heal all wounds. In a few words, the end to death itself. A prize that large doesn’t go unnoticed, and a generationally strong religious cult known as Trinity is soon hot on Lara’s trail in a race against time to seek out this single answer to all of life’s corporeal problems.

It’s a tale that wildly swings from one plot twist to the next, but never manages to lose your interest throughout. Part of the reason the entire narrative manages to maintain so much momentum through familiar beats is thanks, in no small part, to the stellar cast. Lara experiences her own personal growth here – coming to terms with what consequences her globe-trotting treasure-seeking travels bring to everyone around her, and how her thirst for the unknown has the dangerous side of becoming an infectious addiction to her own detriment.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Review 2

On the other hand you have Rise’s most compelling new face – the imposing antagonist that is Konstantin. The leader of Trinity is ruthless in his pursuit of the Divine Source, hiring the worst of the worst to his cause that he deems a holy one. Konstantin is a complicated foe despite his brutish exterior, revealing a more complex character the more you learn about him and his religious obsession. Rise of the Tomb Raider isn’t afraid to dabble in some dark themes with him, with ideals of stigmata, messiahs and the question of creation itself not out-of-bounds throughout.

It’s because of this that Rise of the Tomb Raider’s much darker tale feels a lot more grounded too – even if it still steers into the fictional in its 15 hour campaign. There’s a very human side to everyone you encounter, each with their own justifiable motivations and flaws. Most of this is communicated through the many tapes and documents scattered around the game, which provide some excellent insight into the main cast (and unidentified soldiers) through some truly great writing.

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It’s writing so good that it borders on the disturbing as times, especially when it comes to analysing some of the ruthless killers that Trinity have hired. Hearing their accounts of kills is spine chilling, and it cements the tone of the title into place very early on.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Review 3

These little story tit bits only make up a small portion of the hundreds of collectibles on offer too, with Rise of the Tomb Raider making full use of its seamless switch from linear action adventure to sandbox gameplay. In expanding the game’s world, you’re given three massive hubs to explore to your hearts content, filled to the brim with distractions to keep your mind off the main story. Whether it’s taking relatively shallow side missions or hunting the local wildlife, Rise of the Tomb Raider balances exhilarating set-pieces and tranquil downtime with elegance, and it’s pacing that Crystal Dynamics has down to an art.

Of course a main component of this is Tombs – environmental puzzles that force you to make use of Lara’s various different tools in ways that normal gameplay doesn’t really demand. These Tombs are large, sequestered areas in themselves, each with enough visual variety to stand out from the rest. They all involve some sort of physics-based trickery, offering a gameplay-altering reward in exchange, and they’re a massive step up from the ones featured in the reboot. They’re captivating to seek out and engrossing to undertake, and encompass some of the best parts that this sequel has to offer.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Review 4

These tools also go to great lengths to ensure that exploration isn’t simply trivial, but exciting to undertake too. Lara is able to scale buildings, trees and suicidal mountain cliffs as well as the rest of the pack, but the way Rise of the Tomb Raider keeps you on your feet at all times makes it all the more captivating. It’s no simple matter of jumping and shimmying around. It’s an almost choreographed dance of button presses, demanding good timing, a keen awareness and often tight reflexes to succeed.

Whether it’s hitting X to entrench your picks into ice, or throwing out your grappling hook in the hope that it snags a distant ledge, Rise of the Tomb Raider makes the simple act of platforming and exploration an absolutely treat. To the point where I tried my utmost best to forget about the fast travel system between campsites.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Review 5

This improvement in control leaks into gunplay as well, which feels a lot tighter than the floaty aiming of the reboot. Getting your eye in with the iconic bow still takes some time, but as soon as your arsenal grows switching between weapons mid fire fight becomes a breeze. And that’s only if you choose to engage in that manner – with Rise of the Tomb Raider often encouraging you to stick to the shadows. Attaining stealth kills from bushes is made easy with the Batman-esque Instincts Vision, but quietly moving around in enemy camps while picking Trinity members off one by one is a treat.

And, this time, it’s doesn’t feel at all at odds with the narrative the game is trying to tell. Rise of the Tomb Raider is dark in theme, and even darker in the events it portrays, not shying away from scenes of torturous interrogation, ruthless executions and one particularly gruesome hall painted red in the blood of enemies. Lara is fighting for her life here, and against some truly terrible people – so it makes a little more sense this time.

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Rise of the Tomb Raider Review 6

And while gunplay might work, Rise of the Tomb Raider still struggles to hold its own when it comes to raw hand-to-hand combat. Here the simple dodge and counter QTE makes a return, but it’s too loosely implemented to be a viable fall-back in case an enemy makes up too much ground too quickly. The camera flicks wildly around and you lose sight of your target far too easily – a disappointing piece of combat that is otherwise as slick as rain.

Fortunately the camera behaves itself everywhere else, which is great considering just how gorgeous Rise of the Tomb Raider consistently is. It’s easily one of the most beautiful titles of the year, blending varied environments seamlessly together while letting them all pop with an incredible amount of detail. The snow-capped mountains of Siberia look absolutely splendid, as do the various waterlogged tombs that you’ll find yourself struggling to solve.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Review 7

Lighting is exquisite here, and there’s nothing more pleasing than seeing Lara crack a glow stick in a dark cave, only for the claustrophobic darkness to retreat from a warm, amber glow. It’s easily the most beautiful game on the Xbox One right now, and it manages to do so while keeping reasonably close to a locked 30FPS at most times.

The little animation details add to this too, with Lara feeling as human as she’s ever been in Rise of the Tomb Raider. She’ll often ring the water out her hair when you hop out of a small river, and lightly brush her hands against walls you get close to. There’s moments too where she transfers some bloody fingerprints on to passing rocks, as she struggles to keep on her feet after a gruelling encounter. They’re small details that go a long way to making Lara feel real, and they show an incredible attention to detail on Crystal Dynamic’s front. The writing too, cements Lara as a person first, and as an ass-kicking Tomb Raider second – and it’s only made better by Camilla Luddington’s incredible performance as Lara.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Review 8

With Rise of the Tomb Raider stripped (thankfully) of a soulless multiplayer, there’s a lot of single-player content on offer. Once the lengthy campaign is complete (in an extraordinary final act I might add), there’s the option to tackle missions for leaderboard scores using a variety of modifiers (which can be purchased with real money or earned in-game). You’re also free to mop up any remaining side missions, collect all the parts of weapons you may have missed or simply hunt for any remaining outfits to kit out Lara with. There’s reason to go back – maybe not right away, but it’s an adventure that you’re easily going to want to experience all over again at some point.

 

Last Updated: November 9, 2015

Rise of the Tomb Raider
Summary
Crystal Dynamics have effortlessly done the impossible with Rise of the Tomb Raider, crafting a sequel that is superior to their reboot in every single way possible. It’s a bigger, more expansive experience that has a captivating narrative, engrossing gameplay loops and an absolutely stunning presentation. Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best action games ever crafted, and a generational leap forward as the series looks towards the horizon. Lara Croft is in good hands.
9.2
Rise of the Tomb Raider was reviewed on Xbox One
86 / 100

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff’s a bastard.

  • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    Jeez! Above 9? Well now I am actually sad about that Xbone thing…

    • 40 Insane Frogs

      PS4 version is coming sometime next year

  • 40 Insane Frogs

    Pew pew pew pew pew?

  • Dutch Matrix

    GET TO THE XBONE!!!!

    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      …or wait a year…

      • Captain JJ the Goo

        Next year’s Christmas sale, I say.

        • 40 Insane Frogs

          Listen to this man, he brings great wisdom! 😀

  • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

    Awesome

  • (Umar) Must be Cipher
    • 40 Insane Frogs

      Oh my … HAHAHAHAHAHAH!

    • WitWolfy

      That must be fake.. Has to be!

  • Captain JJ the Goo

    Still to master multiple platforms though.
    No thanks.

  • VampyreSquirrel

    Oh man… WHY is this a timed exclusive!?!?!? *cries*

  • 9.2
    O.o

    Looks good. But PC release is still a little bit out in the future.

  • Mistake Not…

    Mr Barbosa, you missed out with the review summary:
    “Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best action games ever CROFTED”
    Gettit? I think I’m trying too hard.

    Also, you can get the soundtrack for free on Crystal Dynamics’ soundcloud page:
    https://soundcloud.com/crystaldynamics/sets/rise-of-the-tomb-raider-ost

    • Mistake Not…

      Never knew this would take up so much space…

      • Hammersteyn

        XD

      • It’s all good, sometimes we can GIF this place out that it gets lower FPS than Fallout 4 on consoles.

        • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

          …or spam Warframe chat to no end.

          Speaking of which, when are we farming the volt prime parts?

          • Dutch Matrix

            When Optimus says so!

          • We have to find a new farming place for our T3 keys since they nerfed the Lua mission.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I’ve got 13. Lucky number. 😉

          • Hahaha, we shall mooch off you xD (just kidding, I am looking into a new T3 farming place that is NOT spy missions)

          • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

            That new frame I built is kinda meh

          • Wait till you have it max lvl with a continuity mod

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Which one?

          • Valkyr

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Meh. I didn’t enjoy Valkyr all that much, haven’t spent much time playing her.

          • I also never liked her, until I modded her (unpotatoed) into GOD MODE with the new changes in energy with U17.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Well, the only time I’ve used her since then is during the 2nd run of the Halloween event… when you had no powers lol.

          • I love her now after the rework, but everyone has their own “happy place” frame.

            *Loki P is done building tonight… awww yiss

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Waiting for me tonight when I get home will be:

            Bronco P
            Akbronco P
            Boltor P
            Burston P
            Vasto P
            and
            Carrier P 😀

          • wow… MF P everywhere!

            You only have the Boltor P now O.o ???

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I was sad yesterday, sold all non-P, Wraith, Prisma or Syndicate versions of equipment so open up some slots. The hoarding is real heh.

          • I tried to do this as well, next day login 75% off. Rip. The hoarding continues!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Yeah, I never had the receiver, which is only behind T4Def & T4Surv. Not a damn was I running T4Def solo.

          • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

            Something is waiting for me as well tonight, Paris P!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I don’t mind – I get kinda bored running survivals solo, although I ran a few this weekend when farming. This was a farming weekend, and it was glorious. 😀

          • Dutch Matrix

            And it is the 31th this Friday. Edit 13th

          • Huehuehue it’s still funny even with the date messed up.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            That Volt MF P chassis.

          • 40 Insane Frogs

            I would love to join you guys, but I’ll need to level up my peaceframe

          • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

            Just roll with us dude.

            I have a lvl6 new frame and did one badass void run with the guys….at the end of the match it was level 14! FROM ONE MATCH!

          • Tonight will be the same, since everyone is leveling something 🙂

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I found a reinforced container this weekend, 1hr affinity booster, did 1 4 round draco run & leveled up 2 weapons from 0 to 26.

          • Lucky !

            But now that I know the “song” to listen out for them, I find them now and again as well 😛

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            We all know how you suck at finding supply caches in sabotage missions. *run*

          • -_-

            It’s the truth, I was carried with Loki P xD

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I ran T4Sabs with Loki P, if you’re not invisible you’re moving too fast for them most of the time anyway heh. T4MD didn’t work so well. :/

          • Hahaha I know what you mean, MD can get crowded fast. Talking about T4Sab, Vamps needs the Ash P helmet for his syndicate (as do I, for reasons). We are planing to do a few runs through the week.

          • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

            Count me in

          • aww yiss

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Cool, I need his BP – which is in T3Def.

          • My favorite mission 😛

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            The bulk of all the prime parts I don’t have are behind T3 & 4 def now 😀

          • Good news 😛 I love playing Def because I can sit back and play on Autopilot while talking nonsense on Skype the whole mission xD

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I like def missions nearly as much as you like spy missions. 😉

            Although they’re much more fun with others along. Spy missions with others can be… frustrating.

          • I “am” the frustration xD

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I accidentally played a public spy alert yesterday. Guy walked into the path of a camera & stood there. It’s like… um… camera? Do you see it? No? *alarms go off*

          • But, I am getting better now with them. Practice practice 😛

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I know all the Grineer routes, except the Uranus ones.

            Did you know Limbo can riftwalk through Corpus lasers without setting them off?

          • If I had a Limbo xD these frames that are hidden away behind crappy quest grinds are going to take me a while to get.

          • 40 Insane Frogs

            HOLY CRAP! Limbo can do that?

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            😀 Yip. Although you still have to watch out for cameras & enemies cos they can see you, but lasers = no problem.

            Limbo’s actually a pretty cool frame, pity so many people just use him to troll half the time.

          • Dutch Matrix

            You must have been a very happy hobo!

          • Dutch Matrix

            Wot is dis WorFreim you on a about?

    • Alessandro Barbosa

      DAMMIT 🙁 That pun would’ve been perfect

  • Hammersteyn

    Watch it get released on PS4 with bonus goodies to make up for the snub and to try to win us back. Personally I’m content to buy it on sale or even second hand.

    • 40 Insane Frogs

      Lol, my copy will be second hand.

    • Mistake Not…

      I’m pretty sure all my games will have to be 2nd hand from now on (R1000 for Black Ops 3?!)

      • 40 Insane Frogs

        Seriously though, it’s getting incredibly expensive now. 🙁 (The Rand dropping in value isn’t helping either)

        • Mistake Not…

          I’m pretty sure everything is working against us: Low Rand value, inflation, import, releasing ALL the games at the same time.

          • 40 Insane Frogs

            And I fear it’s going to get even worse before it gets better.

          • Dutch Matrix

            But not to worry. Zuma will bring us all the games in his private jet!

          • 40 Insane Frogs

            At 4 billion a jet, he should at least allow us to use his firepool.

          • Dutch Matrix

            I… don’t want to swim in THAT firepool… EEEEWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • 40 Insane Frogs

            HAHAHAHAH!

      • When Overwatch pre orders got released, my wallet almost jumped off my 3rd story balcony.

    • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

      And you got suckered into buying it…..

      • Dutch Matrix

        I kind of think they missed a license to print money: Something something pre-order for R1500.00 and something something Lara Shower Scene add-on

      • Hammersteyn

        Buying what?

        • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

          Bah wrong article, still chuckling about that link you sent me of the review

          • Hammersteyn

            XD

        • Pieter Kruger

          The Brostation 3.5….ROFL!????????????

          • Hammersteyn

            hehe

  • Nikola

    Honestly I would LOVE to play this!! The Tomb Raider reboot was one of my favorite games I ever played I think it’s better than Uncharted actually buuuut after this whole time exclusive I will just never play this game! Call it morals whatever I just don’t like they did the whole thing…

    • 40 Insane Frogs

      That is why the second-hand bin at BT Games is such a wonderful thing.

      • Nikola

        Yeah haha I was just thinking that now, will get it like 2 years later once available second hand:)

    • Captain JJ the Goo

      Agreed

  • MakeItLegal

    nice , sound is much better dudes 🙂

  • oVg

    Im sure all the xbots are all playing Halo.

  • WitWolfy

    Got this game on Frida, ENJOYING IT TOO DEATH!!!!

    Just a few gripes.

    How long did you take to finish it, I’m 44% complete so far and it feels like I’m on my way to finish it.. Just got the Atlas in th cave and I think this is it… The finial push, is there more story after this?

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