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Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) - A Review

Rise of the Tomb Raider is the action-adventure sequel to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot. With its glory and beauty, it takes advantage of the current-gen technology and provides a great game experience.

1. Intro

Three years had passed since the release of 2013's reboot of the TR franchise - a great example of how reboots should actually be done. Crystal Dynamics returned in 2016 with a sequel to the reboot, this time for the PC platform. With the focus on survival like in the previous game, the sequel provides more combat this time around which may or may not stray some fans away.

The game is set in Siberia as Lara searches for city of Kitezh, trying 'to decipher' her father's research work. Although, as expected, she is not the only person on this crazy journey. Trinity, a paramilitary organization has their intentions to get to the city's promise of immortality. As Lara is what stands in front of their goal, she is forced to battle. And so, the Rise of the Tomb Raider's journey begins.

2. Story

Trying to decipher her father's research that eventually was the reason for his suicide (watch out for some plot twists down the line), Lara ends up in an expedition in Syria. Her attempt to uncover the tomb of the Prophet of Constantinople is successful, but she ultimately finds the tomb empty. In classic fashion, the main enemy is introduced - Trinity, a paramilitary organization investigating the supernatural.

An assassin infiltrates her home and steals the main link of the story - a book on Russian religious history - which Lara links to Syberia. Not much later, the game follows as you begin your quest to find the truth behind the scenes. Often you will find yourself having to listen to constant tedious and unnecessary references to Lara's father which reminded me of DC and the Batman movies. Lara's moral compass is unstable and could use some work.

Without much spoiling, you may or may not notice a few plot holes within the story itself. Sometimes, it will throw a cliché villain or dialogue here and there and it's certainly nothing special and does not stand out by any means. And while not being too deep or high quality, it is there to serve its own purpose and doesn't draw attention away much from the main section that counts - the gameplay.

3. Gameplay

Rise of the Tomb Raider's gameplay is very similar to the 2013's reboot and / or the Uncharted series. If you're familiar with how mechanics function in either of those, it won't be an issue to understand them here. While some of the controls have been adjusted and binded differently than in the previous release, the game allows you to adjust them to your liking at any given point.

Tons of different puzzles are thrown all around the open world (and are mainly set in the main or secret tombs ready for you to explore). There are cases of predefined scripted events which contain a lot of button smashing, but not as much as in the original. The events' outcome(s), unlike the ones from the Uncharted franchise, are unfortunately predefined just like the course of scenes within an event. They are predictable and unoriginal.

The developers seem to have re-used some recorded dialogue lines from the 2013 reboot, which is a downside. In the meantime, combat has been improved and is, just like the puzzles, forced all around the open world. Luckily, there's a balance between the two.

There's a crafting system that allows you to upgrade the weapons of your choice and improve specific parts, therefore forcing you to change your approach very often, making the gameplay much more fun. Rise of the Tomb Raider takes the concepts and all the positive parts of gameplay from the previous release, expands upon them and combined with the engine graphics, provides a totally new feeling.

4. Graphics

The "Foundation" engine definitely is one of the top game engines of this generation and if there is one thing that will make me remember this for quite some time, then it's visual presentation of the game. Stunning graphics with really detailed characters, props, weapons and levels provide a great picture to display.

In one moment you're looking at the beauty of Syria's deserts and in the next you're climbing Syberia's mountains. The game looks simply gorgeous. To fill the feeling with awesomeness are Lara and the side characters (whose development is, once again, not really big or deep). Lara looked really nice in the previous release and here she is simply beautiful. The details are stunning and the hair effect definitely adds a lot to the experience. Other characters look really great as well.

Of course, let's not forget the details on all the props and customizable weapons that can be seen at a closer look. Then, there is the open world itself. Smart level design with a lot of details and colors is something not seen in every game nowadays. Unfortunately, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a beautiful looking game, but it lacks optimization. Frequent frame drops even on the best hardware available right now make the experience less satisfying.

5. Verdict

While not everything is positive and there definitely is stuff that can be improved, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a decent game at its worst. Beside a not very well written story, the way scripted events are handled along with optimization issues, the game takes what was great about the 2013 reboot, expands and improves it and provides enough quality for this to take an eye.

With quite a few puzzles for some, decent combat for others and stunningly detailed levels and beautiful graphics, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a game worth your attention to say the least.



Pros & Cons

  • Beautiful visuals
  • Detailed level(s)
  • Secret tombs
  • Great sounds
  • Performance optimization
  • Shallow story
  • Side characters
  • Multiplayer