Rise of the Tomb Raider Review – Lord Croft Would be Proud

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Lara Croft got a sequel to the reboot to her series with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Did it live up to her past titles or should this one be left out in the cold?

Read on to find out.

Lara Croft has been around in the Tomb Raider series since 1996. She is, and always will be, the definitive action/adventure protagonist who paved the way for characters like Nathan Drake and Faith Connors. Lara has been all around the World many times over in her previous ten releases, and even had her series rebooted her last time out. It’s been almost twenty years since Lara first graced a console, and her latest adventure, Rise of the Tomb Raider, is one you just might want to join her on.

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One year after the events of Tomb Raider, Lara Croft is struggling to explain her experience of the supernatural on Yamatai. Looking for answers, she turns to her late father’s research into the lost city of Kitezh and the promise of immortality. Her father’s partner Ana attempts to warn her off as his obsession with Kitezh drove him to ruin and suicide. Lara ignores her and organizes an expedition to Syria, hoping to uncover the tomb of the Prophet of Constantinople, a key figure in the legend of Kitezh. Although successful, the tomb is empty, and Lara is interrupted by Trinity—an ancient order of knights that now exists as a paramilitary organization investigating the supernatural—and their leader Konstantin. As she flees, Lara discovers a symbol etched into the tomb that she links to a book on Russian religious history in her father’s study. A Trinity assassin steals the book, prompting Lara and her friend Jonah to give chase in Siberia. When the two are separated after an avalanche, Lara is forced to go on alone…

The Tomb Raider series has been known to use well written story-lines and Rise of the Tomb raider follows this pattern nicely. The story telling will draw you in and keep you interested all the way through, with interesting characters and plot lines that further the story well. The story jumps around a little bit in the beginning, but does a great job of not over using this tactic. A little father-daughter time is never a bad thing, and it’s a great insight into Lara’s formative years as she interacts with her father as a young girl.

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Game play is just what you would expect from the Tomb Raider series, but with an added RPG element that enhances the game. Finding resources to craft and improve weapons becomes something you will think about as you traverse through the ever changing environments. Crafting our first bow and a quill full of arrows, and then using them to successfully hunt down our first deer gave us a pretty cool sense of accomplishment. The thing didn’t drop right away, though, and tracking its blood trail through the snow took a little time, but made the kill that much sweeter.

Other RPG elements also add to the overall depth and quality of the game. Crafting satchels will allow you to carry more items like bullets and resources while crafting a larger quill will allow you to carry more arrows. Bigger and better bows will be available for you to craft and upgrade as you progress through the game, but you’ll want to improve your skills with skill points you’ll earn along your journey if you truly want to master the arts of combat, survival and weaponry.

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Your skill tree has three branches that you will have to choose from when spending skill points, each branch with its own subset of skills. How you choose to play the game should determine how you spend, so look through all three branches before choosing (Hint: Find the Avid Learner skill). The Brawler branch can make you tougher and sneakier, with boosts to make you punch harder and take less damage. The Hunter branch will make you better at gunplay, with boosts that can earn you bonus hand grenades when you are taking bad guys out. The Survivor branch will help you with your crafting abilities and allow you to build bigger and better things and improve upon these things. Adding RPG elements to an action/adventure game added to the overall quality of the title and gave it a depth we weren’t expecting.

The graphics for the game, depending on your setup, are some of the best we have seen to date. We ran Rise of the Tomb Raider on an AMD FX 8320 with 16GB RAM, coupled with an AMD Radeon R7 200 with 2GB VRAM. While we don’t have a 4K monitor (donations welcome) to run our PC on, we were able to run the game at the highest settings available in-game. The animations, coupled with the level of detail given to the characters, animals and environments, make the game as lifelike as anything we have seen so far. Impressive would be an understatement.

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Rise of the Tomb Raider was initially released last year as a timed Xbox One exclusive, which really is sad for those that haven’t had a chance to experience this great game. With the PC release now behind us and the PS4 release somewhere on the horizon, eventually everyone will find out what makes this game exceptional and a must-play title.

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