Rise of the Tomb Raider has excellent gameplay, fantastic visuals, and a well-developed story from beginning to end. However, character development - the strongest element of the previous Tomb Raider – seems to have been abandoned. This doesn’t drastically damage the game, but it does take off a little of the polish.
Lara Croft returns wiser, dealing with ghosts of her past, a shadowy mysterious order, and lots of ancient tombs.
The a vital search
Rise of the Tomb Raider begins in a manner reminiscent of Uncharted 2, with the story switching between past and present events. You quickly learn that Lara is looking to clear the name of her father.
An archaeologist himself, Lord Croft became obsessed with the Divine Source towards the end of his life and was smeared in the press once his quest was labeled a hoax. Now, with the help of new and old friends, Lara must race the shadowy Order of Trinity to find this relic, clear her father’s name, and share the Source´s immortality granting powers with the world.
Eidos has done a splendid job creating characters, particularly its villains. While clear inspiration has been taken from Uncharted and Assassin's Creed in crafting the cloaked Order of Trinity and the supernatural story, the writing does a great job to differentiate it.
The unfortunate flip side of this is that in Rise of the Tomb Raider some strengths of the previous game have been left behind. Most notable of these omissions is that Lara no longer seems to be developing as a character, which robs her of humanity. Rather than the incredible things she is witnessing and doing shocking and shaping her, she just takes them all in stride – making her feel more detached and unrelatable.
Expanded and improved gameplay
While the story leaves you wanting, the gameplay is another thing entirely. Everything here is bigger and better – starting with the combat.
The first game featured some fantastic fighting, but this pales in comparison to Rise of the Tomb Raider. You are no longer just fighting a bunch of castaways on an island, but a trained mercenary group – and the developers have clearly taken this into account. Enemy AI is greatly improved – from marksmanship to tactics – making every encounter harder and more dynamic than previously.
This forces you to carefully weigh your options, picking between stealth or aggression. You must decide whether you quietly move past enemies tactically taking out a few with your bow, or mow them all down with an incendiary shell shotgun – all the while knowing both are valid and valuable choices.
As in any Tomb Raider, a large focus is exploration. For this you have loads of new tools at your disposal, including the rope axe that allows you to reach unexpected heights.
Other new tools include a host of customizable weapons and ammunition that can be acquired through playing side-missions. Finally, gathering in-game resources allows you to further upgrade equipment and craft essential items throughout your journey.
Rise of the Tomb Raider game is graphically excellent. While the 2013 Tomb Raider used neutral and dark tones to give the feel of a survival drama, this game has chosen to combine open, natural environments with ruins from Byzantine Greek era lit with impressively low light. The combination of these make you feel like real "Tomb Raider" – and yes, on a good PC, it looks incredible.
The game also makes stunning use of audio. Outdoors, the sound of nature surrounds you, with wind rustling through distant branches. But when you enter a confined tomb, the silence is total and oppressive, with every echo of a broken vase or enemy discussion reverberating through the halls.
Rise of the Tomb Raider great but I still wanted more
Rise of the Tomb Raider is a great game that has almost everything: gameplay, graphics, and sound. But, it is not better than its predecessor. The intense narrative of the first game really put you in the boots of someone trying to survive, in Rise of the Tomb Raider you feel like a mix of SAS and Navy Seal out for a stroll with a machine gun. Bigger world and better gameplay but, like in the movies, now the origin tale is told the story feels less intense.