What is Rise of the Tomb Raider?
Rise of the Tomb Raider is an action adventure game, and the sequel to the gritty, dark 2013 series reboot (which was simply entitled 'Tomb Raider'). Picking up where the last game left off, Rise of the Tomb Raider sees everyone's favourite archaeologist-come-adventurer Lara Croft set out on another action-packed journey as she searches for the legendary city of Kitezh, and its promise of immortality, deep in the frozen heart of Syberia. However, it doesn't take long before she attracts the attention of a ruthless rival organisation known as the Trinity - a group who are also seeking the magic of eternal life, and, surprisingly enough, aren't exactly willing to share.
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How do you play Rise of the Tomb Raider?
Rise of the Tomb Raider is an open world adventure, meaning rather than playing through individual levels, you instead have a huge, seamless environment to explore. With an emphasis on stealth, as you follow the main story, you'll be infiltrating enemy bases, gathering bits and pieces to craft new items, setting traps for enemy troops - or perhaps even exploring the optional puzzle-filled Tombs.
Like its predecessor, though, Rise of the Tomb Raider is heavy on the combat, frequently veering into third person shooter territory as you take out waves of bad guys with Lara's arsenal of weapons, from an over the shoulder perspective. From bows and pistols, to shotguns and machine guns, the automatic lock-on from the classic Tomb Raider games is gone - now you need to aim manually, making use of cover and vantage points to pick off enemies one by one, or even drop on them from a tree using the game's stealth takedowns.
Between the frequent combat sections, Rise of the Tomb Raider focuses more on exploration and platforming as you scale walls, leap between crumbling platforms and swing across chasms. With Lara being rather athletic and agile, and with a few useful bits of kit at her disposal, such as ice picks and rope arrows, there are few areas you can't reach - and any you can't, you'll probably be able to return to later, when you've learnt some new skills or acquired new tools. There's a fair few puzzles to figure out too, from simply flooding a room to reach a higher platform, to the more involved brain teasers, like one which sees you rotating an oversized model of the solar system piece by piece in order to reach the top.
How easy is Rise of the Tomb Raider to pick up and play?
If you've played the previous Tomb Raider (2013) game, or indeed similar action/adventure/survival titles like Far Cry or Assassin's Creed, then Rise of the Tomb Raider should be pretty familiar territory. With an emphasis on survival, you'll need to balance combat with exploration, taking time out to scavenge for raw items, which you can use to craft ammo, first aid kits and new weapons. Hunting animals, too, plays a large part in keeping your inventory stocked, and you'll need to kill and skin rabbits, deer and big cats (amongst others) to craft new items. With such a large world to explore, you'll often come across various obstacles to traverse, some of which may require you to come back later with new equipment and skills - which can make finding your way around a little tricky, as you search for the path you're meant to take.
Combat, meanwhile, is distinctly third person shooter-y, with cover to hide behind, limited ammo, and no auto-lock-on, unlike in the earlier Tomb Raider games. Puzzle solving, meanwhile, tends to be of the pushing crates, rotating platforms and raising water levels variety, which open up up new paths for Lara to take. Should you find yourself a bit stumped, Lara does have her 'survival instinct' to call on, which is effectively a spidey sense for puzzles, highlighting anything you can interact with, destroy or loot, should you have missed something.
With a choice of four different difficulty levels on offer, each of which scale the amount of health enemies have and the damage they do, everyone should be able to find a difficulty they're happy with - whether you want an easy ride on Adventurer, or prefer things a bit more hardcore, with restrictions on your health regeneration and limited resources coming into play on the higher Seasoned Raider and Survivor difficulties.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is fully voiced and subtitled throughout the main story, with the only real reading cropping up in mission reminders, upgrade menus and some collectible scrolls which contain non-essential back story information.
- "Large insulated storage pack that significantly increases resource carrying capacity."
- "We have learned he is preaching his heresy among the local citizens, drawing more to him daily with tales of how he conquered death. He is a liar and a heretic, claiming miracles that come only from the Divine."
- "Use the Orrery to open the entrance to Kitezh."
Perhaps not quite as gory as its predecessor, Rise of the Tomb Raider still ranks pretty highly on the mature content front - about the only thing that doesn't get a look in are sex scenes and innuendo. A one woman killing machine, Lara dispatches enemies (everything from soldiers to animals to ancient beings) with guns, knives and explosives, with each hit that lands accompanied by a cloud of red blood. Stealth kills let you sneak up on unsuspecting bad guys to stab them in the neck, cut their throats or strangle them underwater, again with large splashes of blood and cries of pain.
Certain sequences put Lara in the firing line instead, and if you don't react fast enough, she'll meet a bit of a grizzly end - getting her feet caught in bear traps, impaled on spikes or being crushed by falling rubble, all accompanied by crunches, splats and squelches, and of course gratuitous blood spurts. Some scenes have more grotesque surroundings too, with one area full of corpses burned and disfigured by a fire, with severed limbs and heads found on the ground, one of which is still hanging on to life, begging you to end his misery.
Bad language is also frequent throughout, with words such as f*ck, sh*t and b*stard cropping up with some regularity.
Format Reviewed: Xbox One