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You may find it weird, funny or even ridiculous, but I have never in my life finished a Tomb Raider game, even though my life coincides with the target audience of most Tomb Raider games. I think its because as kid, I did not want to be perving out looking at a pixelated woman, when my mother entered my room. I grew up thinking that Tomb Raider is just one of those games that I will never play. So when I saw the new re-booted Tomb Raider look so good and so well received, I finally decided to pick up its next iteration. As luck would Rise Of The Tomb Raider was a timed exclusive. It just felt like Destiny at that point and I gave up on the franchise again. Only for Games The Shop to throw me a curve ball and send in a review copy for the 20th Anniversary Edition of the game. Now that’s fate right there.

Rise Of The Tomb Raider

Detailed Review

A view to die for...Litrally
A view to die for…Litrally

Rise Of The Tomb Raider is an action adventure game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. The game was originally announced as an Xbox One timed exclusive. However the 20th Anniversary Celebration Edition was released on the PC and PS4 on October 11 2016, which contained the base game, all the released DLC and a new one called Blood Ties (Playable in PS VR). We are here to find out if Lara Croft stood the test of time, as the prodigal adventurer comes back to its original platform.

(+) Drake Vs. Lara

Let’s get right down to it. Rise Of The Tomb Raider is not Uncharted 4. Its its own game, more open than Uncharted and less scripted. It does share the theme of ‘Indian Jones on an adventure’ template but it treats it very differently. Lara is not the witty, chuffed up Drake instead she is darker, morbid and more intense. While Uncharted builds a steep tempo culminating in breath-taking chases, Tomb Raider employs the reverse strategy and opens with break neck sequences, before you have time to catch your breath. By the time you have settled into the game, and started it proper, some of the best sequences in the game are already past.

Rise of the Tomb Raider
Rise of the Tomb Raider

Comparisons aside, Rise Of The Tomb Raider is an excellent action adventure game. Right up there with the best of them. It does suffer from some pacing issues, but the point to point gameplay is, well on point. There is always something to move the story forward or to collect in your near vicinity. Some areas are closed off, and you would need to go back to them with new skills later. However its not a huge sprawling open world, and with time you remember the locations of the spots you still have to unlock. This gives you a sense of mastery and ownership of the map/game which I felt is missing in most huge open world games.

(+) On the run

Rise of the Tomb Raider has Lara looking for a divine power that can cure Death forever. But that is not the crux of the story, only the underlying axis. Instead its Lara’s obsession (not unlike her father’s) with the legend, and the moral compass of the opposing antagonist which is the highlight of the narrative. It would be a shame to reveal some of the twists in the game, but I can assure you that the game offers a succulent story.


The narrative is then extended into 2 very different direction. One is the Baba Yaga DLC which not unlike the Far Cry 4 Shangri-La sections, delves into a more trippy story-line, with the House with chicken legs coming to life. On the other hand, Blood-ties follows Lara as she fights off her uncle in a very grounded and personal war for the possession of the Croft Mansion. Both DLCs offer individual isolated boxes of story which may be enjoyed as per your leisure.

Rise Of The Tomb Raider displays the power of the video game medium where both kinds of narratives can co-exists as cannon for the same character.

It wouldn’t be too much fun though, if the narrative was filled with empty wind hollows and small collectibles. There is a lot of action in the game. But once again like the map/area size its done in the perfect size. Soldiers patrolling any area are never too much, and a combination of stealth and full frontal assault will see you come on top after every encounter.

Also soldiers don’t re-spawn after you have cleared an area, so if you are thorough, you can rid an area of all enemies so you can come back to the collectibles and not have to hide in the bushes for 15 minutes before you can get them. Which once again makes you feel like you have been rewarded for your efforts. Human enemies are not the only threat to Lara. Indeed its the natural elements that create the most dramatic sequence in the game. Like the avalanche in the beginning of the game, and the monstrous bear that you face as your first boss makes the game more than a mindless cover based shooter.


These encounter become more enjoyable with the fact that Lara can now craft arrows, bombs, and healer plants on the run and during a fight. This means if you can carry a max of 2 poison arrows, and you run out of them during a fire fight, you can craft some on the run. It makes the game more open and allows you to be more flexible in your choices, letting you try out different weapons instead of hoarding onto more potent weapons in case of emergencies.

(-) Too easy an adventure

The same mechanic however also makes the encounter much easier, especially in the later parts of the game, when Lara is basically the Terminator. This is much more evident on the lower difficulties, where Lara becomes nigh unbeatable as she upgrades her skills spread over 3 trees. I enjoy becoming a BEAST towards the end game, but for people who enjoy a challenge, higher difficulties are the way to go.

(+) Beautiful LARA

Visually like most games this year Lara Croft is a treat to look at. The vistas, the environment and especially the lighting will have you pressing that share button multiple times. Plus when Lara walks through Snow, water or even ice, its just great to look at. She leaves behind footprints, trails and moves sluggishly and all of it is visually transferred to you.

Look at that t
Look at that trail

The music of the game is non-intrusive and you would rarely find your attention drifting towards it. Instead the focus would be on the excellent voice acting done by Camilla Luddington, who oozes with British accent all through the game. One could argue that the game doesn’t focus enough on any of the other characters, and some of them come out as too shoddily developed. But the game is called Rise Of The Tomb Raider, and others are just there for the ride.

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