There is no mistaking that Crystal Dynamics has took its first Lara Croft escapade and capitalized on it in almost every way creating a true classic whilst at the same time launching Lara up there with the greatest gaming protagonist of our time.
Rise of the Tomb Raider shows us a fully established Lara Croft. No longer is she a fresh faced survivalist. She is battle hardened. No longer a stranger to danger. A true femme fatale. Taking over from her dead father, she searches the snow peaked Siberia and sun soaked Syria for a magical artifact that grants eternal life. Of course there are other players on the chess board. Camilla Luddington plays a blinder as Lara and the bad guys are highlights to ROTTR’s acting prowess. Her supporting cast aren’t as exciting but they didn’t have enough screen time for me to care.
Everything from the last game is built upon. From a landscape that is rife for exploration with tonnes to see to the tight action packed combat. Lara is more adept to conflict. Although stealth is a certainly a viable option with bonus experience and loot with every stealth kill, going all out gung ho is more fun this time around. Lara can craft on the fly. Using tins and bottles to concoct Molotov cocktails and bombs without ever pausing the action. It deepens it giving me more options to take out the enemy.
There are more things to do outside of the main storyline now. More challenge tombs, collectibles and now in game NPC’s can give you side quests such as rescuing their allies or taking out radio towers. It lengthened my time in Rise of the Tomb Raider and I loved it more for it.
There is plenty to see. Hidden caves laden with skeletal remains, dark forests and monasteries and a highlight of mine was a challenge Tomb that had me climbing a huge Mongolian longboat suspended in the air by a glacier. There are some breath-taking views. One of the more breath-taking is Lara’s hair which no longer has a mind of its own, it flows realistically, a really nice touch.
Crafting takes more of a role here. I mentioned it before with its on-the-fly crafting but off-the-fly (?) takes more of a role once you’ve found one of the many camp sites scattered around. Here you can use hunted animal skins, wood and scrap metal to create bigger ammunition pouches, stronger weapons and a bigger purse for more scrap bits. It’s these collectables that encourage you to explore.
They are literally everywhere.
Multiplayer is no more, replaced by an Expedition mode which allows you to alter the gameplay using Expedition Cards. These can range from modifiers to make the game easier like temporary invincibility after every stealth kill, to making the game harder like one life only or limited ammunition. They grant extra life to the already fantastic gameplay and gives you more reason to revisit the stunning locales.