Rise of the Tomb Raider is out locally this Friday, and I absolutely adored the follow-up to Crystal Dynamics stellar reboot just two years ago. Rise of the Tomb Raider is an exceptional action game, with a compelling tale and engrossing side activities that keep that game flowing at an immaculately balanced pace. That’s what I thought at least – what do critics around the world have to say about it?
Rise of the Tomb Raider raises the bar set by Lara’s last outing with a rollicking adventure story, strong villains, gorgeous vistas, and smart puzzles – go off the main path to find the best stuff in dastardly optional tombs. Though the mandatory combat doesn’t distinguish itself with challenging enemies unless you crank up the difficulty, Lara’s newfound versatility on the battlefield makes fighting a lot more fun. Once again it’s Lara herself, however, who steals the show, her complex ambitions and hardened resolve showing new sides to a character who has well and truly grown from survivor to the most fascinating action hero in video games today.
Rise of the Tomb Raider captures the thrill of being an adventurer and leaves you thinking about Lara’s next move. You have daredevil sequences, heroic moments, fun exploration, and exciting fights that even Indiana Jones would envy. If Crystal Dynamics keeps raising the bar from here, I can’t wait to see what’s next for Lara.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is better than its predecessor, but only because of its additions; it doesn’t fix any of the things that were wrong with Tomb Raider (2013). The story is smoothed down, much of it hidden away in dull audio logs. It’s not about “survival” as billed, given the ease of mowing down dozens of folks and plenty of resources. But finding tombs wherein to clamber about ancient Rube Goldberg machines, coupled with the gorgeous visual flair and diverse environments, make Rise‘s wilderness one worth exploring and elevate Tomb Raider‘s otherwise perfunctory take on the third-person action platformer. I still get a strong sinking feeling in my stomach when I’ve misjudged a jump and watch Lara careening towards a splat.
In many ways, Rise of the Tomb Raider could be viewed as a fairly modest sequel. It successfully builds off Crystal Dynamics’ excellent reboot, but it doesn’t introduce any massive changes; the scope is greater but still in spitting distance of the previous game. But successfully regaining the feeling created in an extremely good game is no small feat. This is the inauguration of Tomb Raider as a formula once more, but for now, it’s a formula I’m happy revisiting.
Having enjoyed the Tomb Raider reboot I expected good things from Rise of the Tomb Raider, but those have been exceeded to a degree I didn’t imagine. Crystal Dynamics has made a game that expertly rekindles memories of the series’ triumphant past and yet still feels incredibly modern. In an era when triple-A blockbuster games often drown beneath a desire to make things more explosive or complex than before, Rise of the Tomb Raider shows how it should be done. This is captivating romp that should cement Lara as a modern gaming icon.
Rise of the Tomb Raider’s first shot pans over the vast, foreboding landscape we’ll soon come to know. In many ways, it functions as a promise on the part of Crystal Dynamics: there are big things ahead of us. And at the end of Lara’s journey, after we’ve seen her through this adventure, and experienced everything the world has to offer, it’s clear that promise was kept.
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.
Well, those are some incredibly great scores for a sequel that almost unanimously improves on everything Crystal Dynamics introduced in their lauded reboot. Rise of the Tomb Raider is out on Xbox One and Xbox 360 this Friday, and it’s certainly a game worth slipping into Xbox territory for.
Last Updated: November 9, 2015