Review: Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One)

Action Adventure
9.6

Amazing

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Let’s face it, deep inside we all want Tomb Raider to be the best Indiana Jones game. We want a game with adventure, puzzles, action and bucket loads of atmosphere. What if I tell you that Rise of the Tomb Raider is not only one of the best games in the series, it’s one of the best action adventure games that’s ever been created?

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Adventure Time!

Events kick off right after the Tomb Raider reboot. Lara, having discovered Yamatai island, is now obsessed with the supernatural and makes it her mission to uncover all myths around the world. The next objective in sight – discover the truth behind an ancient city named Kitezh. According to her late father there lies an artefact that holds the secret to immortality within those walls. Problem is that she’s not the only one after the artefact. Trinity, an organisation with funds and an army, is also interested in the supernatural, but for all the wrong reasons. Lara will come face-to-face with the evil bastard at the helm early on that ultimately sets her on an adventure like never before.

Lara’s adventure takes place in Siberia where she’s introduced to the elements from the get-go. As before you’ll once again start off with no weapons after an incident where you’re separated from Jonah, your adventuring buddy from the Tomb Raider reboot game (though he’s got a serious head of hair now) in their efforts to discover Kitezh. Your first task is to build a fire to warm up in the blistering cold temperatures as you hear Lara shivering in the blizzard. Once you’ve collected the wood you require you’ll be re-introduced to the Base Camp once more.

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All your base are belong to the camp

You’ll spend much of your time at Base Camp as it’ll allow you to perform better in battle and improve your overall adventuring skills in three categories, as before: Brawler (improved hand-to-hand combat and healing abilities), Hunter (hunting and scavenging abilities) and Survivor (crafting and exploration abilities). These skills range from improved looting to taking less damage from gunfire and many more. You’ll also once again be able to Fast Travel between Base Camps and there’s a new Inventory category where you can upgrade equipment and craft special ammunition for your bow, which you’ll find conveniently at your first Base Camp. It’s however the weapons that have seen a complete overhaul.

[pullquote_left]From the very first explorable area you’re so overwhelmed that you don’t quite know where to get started[/pullquote_left]You’ll start off with the bow and later you’ll have a handgun, assault rifle and shotgun added to your list of available weapons, though a sniper is still sadly missing. Pressing up, down, left or right on the D-pad switches between weapons, but you’ll want to keep an eye out for strongboxes as you adventure. Within these boxes you’ll find weapon parts. Collect all four parts and a new weapon will appear at Base Camp for you to switch to and upgrade. Upgrading each weapon will see it improving the damage, accuracy, reload speed, ammo capacity and rate of fire of each weapon, but this time it’s not as simple as collecting basic gear. You’ll have to collect salvage, oil, hides, hardwood, feathers, cloth, technical parts, chromite ore, exotic hides and more to upgrade your weapons and inventory equipment. This requires exploration and that’s where Rise of the Tomb Raider comes into its own.

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Collect all the things!

From the very first explorable area you’re so overwhelmed that you don’t quite know where to get started. You’ll find hidden cave entrances (some blocked off to be returned to at a later stage), crypt treasures, hidden relics, documents and survival caches. It’s up to you to find archivist maps and explorer satchels for the hidden items to pop up on your map, but finding these maps and satchels requires time and exploration on your behalf. Discover a monolith and it’ll lead you to hidden coin caches and survival caches, but there’s a trick to that too. Only when Lara discovers and reads enough murals will her Russian and Greek, and other languages later on, improve enough to read the monolith. Collect enough coins to buy new weapons and items at the Supply Shack – a new addition to this series. And this is just the tip of this Siberian iceberg playground.

When you’re not searching for items, to improve your XP and upgrades, you’re on the lookout for challenges. These could range from shooting down drones to removing Russian flags. These challenges are just that – challenging. There’s absolutely nothing to assist you in finding the scattered challenges other than leaving no stone unturned. There are also side missions that’ll have you assisting locals, though the number of side missions aren’t all that high. Though you might think Lara is the star of the show there’s a star that shines much brighter and takes this series back to its roots, and comes with treasures – the Tombs.

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Something that was missing from Tomb Raider games (post Tomb Raider: Chronicles) were puzzles that had you scratching your noggin to solve it. The earlier tombs are straight-forward, but get to the last five tombs and you’re going to spend some good time attempting to solve a tomb puzzle. Crack the puzzle and you’re rewarded with a new ability such as using your climbing axe to traverse at a much faster rate or nearby hidden items being highlighted when going into survival mode (by clicking the right analogue stick). It’s a much better setup than the Tomb Raider reboot and has you feeling all clever once completing it, like great games should.

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[pullquote_right]The lush environments, telling you a story of its past, takes your imagination to a place it’s never been before[/pullquote_right]Throughout your adventures you’re always on the lookout for bears, wolves and other exotic animals looking for their next meal. Using poison or explosive arrows (when you’re just not in the mood for another super powerful bear) will bring a quick end to any attack. What’s more is that you can now create arrows and special arrow tips on the fly by pressing and holding either RT or RB should you have the required items in your inventory. You can also pick up any bottle or can lying around and convert it into a molotov, smoke bomb or explosive. I found that the human counterparts can be a bit easy to beat on normal mode, though stealth attacking from a bush and from below water is still a very satisfying result. Yes, Lara can swim, though her swimming abilities are still very limited. Something else that did bother me throughout my play time was the lack of sliding down ladders. It might sound like a petty annoyance, but you descend ladders quite often and I found myself completely avoiding a ladder and rather taking my chances with death when making my way to the ground as it’s just so cumbersome and slow.

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GASP! A complete game!

Rise of the Tomb Raider is a graphical showpiece. Each and every strand of Lara’s beautiful and realistic hair is gorgeous (and it looks way better than what we saw in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition). The lush environments, telling you a story of its past, takes your imagination to a place it’s never been before. There’s not a stone pebble that feels out of place. Enter a cave and watch the ice crystals come to life as they glitter against the rock. Rabbits, butterflies, birds, chickens, rats and all forms of creatures bring the world to life. The soundtrack complements this. Walk into a tomb and you’ll feel like Indy finding that hidden treasure in The Lost Ark. It plays so well on your ‘feel good’ senses that you just want more and more. The good news is that this adventure will last you roughly 24 hours. At the time of writing my game progress is at 93% complete and that’s 32 hours in, so expect it to last you close to 40 hours to complete it 100%. In my 32 hours of play I did not encounter one glitch or bug. Yes, it’ll take you back to a time launch games were complete games. If there’s a day one patch I’ll be surprised to be quite honest.

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So what do you do once you’re done with the campaign? You compete for the highest score on your friends leaderboard, that’s what. There are four modes available in Expeditions: Score Attack, Chapter Replay, Chapter Replay Elite and Remnant Resistance. Of the lot I had to most fun playing Score Attack and Remnant Resistance and it’s here were you’ll get to use Play Cards to enhance your experience. You are given several sets of cards for specific objectives throughout the main campaign but you can also purchase extra cards by using an in-game credits currency. Buy the Bronze Pack of cards and you’ll get common cards. Buy the gold and you’ll unlock rare cards, or you can take your chances with an Advantage, Challenge or Wild pack of random card sets. Think of these cards as mods. For example – get access to unlimited fire arrows, but get minus 25% credits for your efforts. Or use the ‘health reduced’ card, which makes it way more challenging, and receive 50% more credits. It’s definitely fun, but I can’t see it lasting too long after you’ve completed the campaign. Another campaign playthrough on a harder difficulty will result in more enjoyment.

Sequels often fail because of hype and pressure that the original game set as a benchmark. Rise of the Tomb Raider shatters expectations. It’s everything the Tomb Raider reboot was and more. There’s nothing as amazing as a single player experience when done right and Lara Croft did indeed rise to the challenge. The ball is in your court Nathan.

Gold-award

raru-buy-now

 

Good

  • Like single player games? You're in the right place

Bad

  • Like multiplayer games? You're in the wrong place

Summary

'Rise' your expectations. Lara is about to take you on an unforgettable adventure.
9.6

Amazing

Gameplay - 10
Visuals - 9.5
Audio - 9.5
Gratification - 9.5
Value for money - 9.5
Married to a gamer wife who kicks my ass at most shooters. If it's got analogue thingies, with buttons that's connected to a big box I'll play it no matter the format.
  • Man, the amount of times I refreshed the SAG homepage waiting for this review to drop o_O

    Anyway, back to reading the review…

    [continued] …well, this is pretty much what I was expecting. And, with the EU release on Friday, I’m quite disappointed that I won’t be able to play it tomorrow.

    Great review, Dawid. After reading your write-up…the jelly, it is strong.

    • Well, know that’s it’s well worth the wait. There’s so much more to say in terms of the theme the game covers, but that’s something I believe you should experience for yourself 🙂

  • Michelle

    Am I reading this heading wrong?Cause I got confused when I read it.

    “All your base are belong to the camp”

  • Small Charlie

    This game sure does look pretty.

  • Jivesh Hanoomaun

    Square are pretty confident since they’ve removed the embargo a whole year before the game comes out. Jokes aside, nice review. Looking forward to giving this a go next year.

  • baasg3n3

    Okay so the question beckons, I ordered Fallout 4 and Starcraft LOTV, I’m also still playing Tales of Zestiria which is awesome and not at all as bad as the press make it out to be, I also play Forza 6 now and then. Do I spend R800 on this, do I wait for a 2nd hand copy or do I wait for the PC version? I still feel that 24 hours just isn’t enough for R800 no matter how good it is since it has almost no replay value

    • As much as I adore this game – if I were in your shoes I’d wait for the PC version. You’ve got enough to keep you going for quite some time.

      • baasg3n3

        I agree, I also have Xenoblade Chronicles X pre ordered. So this can wait, makes me excited to play it eventually though. Great review!

  • FanieNel

    I’m just glad the beta release for this game is doing good.

  • AchtungBaby_

    I’m such a happy fangirl right now. For years I had to listen how people talked badly about Tomb Raider games and insult them, and me for liking them. I’m glad Lara is cool again.

    • I’d go as far as to say that Rise of the Tomb Raider is my personal GOTY.

      • Small Charlie

        How many games releasing this year do you still got to play?

        • The only game I’m still holding out for is Xenoblade Chronicles, but I’ve not heard many good things. So I’m a little concerned for that. But there’s nothing else in 2015 I really want. Next in my list is Mirror’s Edge 2 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

          • Small Charlie

            In that case. Great. For me personally, it is going to very hard to beat my two personal GOTY . It’s still a toss up between Ori and the Blind Forest and The Witcher 3.

          • You finished Ori?

            I think I was about 3/4 through the game when that 8GB (and some change) patch came out.

            …haven’t played it since o_O

          • Small Charlie

            Yup, it gets pretty hard near the end, but man what a great game, the music, the art style, and tight controls, the beautiful story. Just a great game.

            What did the 8GB patch do to you?

          • Probably cos the patch is more or less the size of the game. I think (at the time) I felt somewhat insulted.

          • Small Charlie

            Ah, well. I didn’t know what. I got the game after any patches. Still, it doesn’t take away the fact that its an amazing game.

          • It really is.

            With us talking about the game yesterday, I nearly updated it when I got home. Then I opened the YouTube app and watched Louis CK stand-up instead.

            ..totally forgot about anything Ori related.

          • Small Charlie

            You really need to sort your life priorities out.

          • You are not wrong :/

          • Yeah, I also stopped playing it for that very reason, then got back to it about a month ago, before all the review games streamed in, and have not touched it since. Really would like to play in in the next 2 or three weeks and complete it.

          • AchtungBaby_

            Ori and the Blind Forest was a brilliant game. Difficult as hell, but that story and atmosphere… very good choices you put there. I’d say I’m feeling the same as you on my GOTY choices.

      • AchtungBaby_

        Wow that’s amazing. I can’t wait for it to release on PS4 now. At least I’ve got plenty of backlog games to keep me busy until then.

  • ColonelJakesZA

    I’m an avid Tomb Raider fan, always was eversince the glory days when Lara first well, raided tombs. I enjoyed the reboot so much that I’m now on my 3rd playthrough since I got it on Xbox One.

    Problem is, I’ve sorta fell in love with the Halo franchise recently, and started with The Master Chief Collection before moving on to Halo 5: Guardians. So I won’t have any time soon to spend some time with our beloved Lara.

    But, I’m sure she won’t mind if I go save the universe first before kicking terrorists asses.

    “Won’t be long dear…”

    PS. Great review Dawid. I knew from the start that this was gonna be a masterpiece.

  • hammarman

    Great review . Cant wait to play this on friday . What difficulty do you recommend starting on?I like games to be challeging but not frustrating . It sounds like normal may be a bit easy

    • Look, for review purposes I always play all my games on normal, as I expect most people will play that difficulty, but I really would suggest that you kick it up one notch. Don’t play the highest difficulty as it’ll be tough towards the end in particular.

  • My pre-order is in as well. Can’t wait for the weekend.

  • Oh, and to everyone getting Tomb Raider today, in case you didn’t know, you can grab some good ‘ol fashioned free DLC on Xbox.com using the linkage below:

    http://discover-the-legend.xbox.com/fire.html

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