cyclonus_the_warrior's Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox 360) review

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It would be an honor to be buried in this tomb.

One year has passed since Lara Croft's experience on a desolate island that killed nearly all of her friends. She's struggling with the experience and finds herself becoming obsessed with her late father's work involving a very powerful artifact. This leads her to Siberia in search for answers on a new quest. -summary

The sequel jinx definitely does not rear its ugly head here. Rise of the Tomb Raider is a vast improvement over 2013's Tomb Raider in just about every way. Not to say that the original was a bad game because it was far from that for me but it felt too similar to Uncharted. Rise of the Tomb Raider takes care of this. It adds in all the elements that made the previous game so fun to play, while also going back to many of the things that made the franchise interesting to begin with.

Rise of the Tomb Raider follows Lara as she searches for the tomb of the Prophet of Constantinople which supposedly houses the power of immortality. The previous game was quite story driven as it focused on Lara being forced to adjust to her primal surroundings and growing as a survivor doing whatever necessary to live. This time she's more of an adventurer but the blood lust is still within her as she mauls down the opposition to complete her journey.

Game Play:

The game play is very strong giving Lara quite a bit to do. For starters she can still upgrade her weapons and abilities yet these things aren't as simple as before. She has to craft various weapons and tools by breaking pieces of small trees, use animal hides, mushrooms, and objects laying around. She must also obtain currency by picking up and finding coin caches to purchase items and upgrades. She can still find pieces to weapons to build something devastating, but she has more to work with this time such as a revolver pistol or a semi-automatic pistol; and it's up to the player to decide which weapon is worth the currency or time to upgrade. Do you want more stopping power or more ammo? It all depends on whatever unique taste you may have, and there are several weapons such as different shotguns and rifles to choose from. Lara also has the ability to craft molotov cocktails, small bombs, and even poison-tipped arrows that works so well into adding a lot of heft to the game play.

The combat is even stronger now than before. Like the previous game, stealth worked heavily into Lara's favor, and being able to take out sentries unaware of your presense was the difference between life and death. Lara was able to sneak up on enemies and strangle them with her bow. She can still pull that off, but she can do all sorts of things such as diving down on top of enemies and stabbing them, or rising out the water like a horror movie killer taking poor fools down with her and drowning them. It adds another dimension to the combat which was already bursting with potential. The gun battles are still fun and now with so much at Lara's disposal I can't think of a game at the moment where guerilla warfare was this engaging. The game's A.I. is solid enough as they unload on Lara with grenades and various fire arms while using some sort of strategy. While the enemy felt a bit more madcap in the previous game, they seem more coordinated this time plus the very small amount of boss battles gets the adrenaline going.

While many people will be fascinated by the action and there is plenty. I think the navigation through this semi-opened world will win many over. The main game is quite linear and very striaghtforward; but taking the time to explore and perform various missions for allies brings out the best in the game and is quite rewarding as Lara earns even more abilities and items. I never once felt like my time was wasted and I couldn't wait to find the next tomb to explore. Something that was missing from the first game was the difficulty in the actual tombs. They felt way too simple and quite honestly, the puzzles were probably too easy. There's actually some brain work necessary this time around, in addition there's also a penalty through a quick death when botching some parts of it. I felt challenged this time, and I was pretty impressed with how some of these things unfolded.

The plat forming portion recived a nice overhaul and there's some things that really shouldn't be spoiled, therefore I'll simply state that there are items that will be necessary for making it from point A to B that pushes the creative talents that went into this portion of the game. I also like how the game gradually breaks you in on its platforming mechanics by creating easily recognizable ledges and cliffs, and later on in the game these things are presented a bit more subtle relying on keeping a sharp eye out for things. There is a bit of trial and error to be found which will lead to some deaths, but once you get around these things then you'll be shaking your head on how easily you could have avoided these pitfalls.

The story is better in some ways, with Lara bumping heads with an organization called Trinity whom sends one of their best operatives named Konstantine after the artifact. The story is quite engrossing with there being more to this group; but the story follows second behind the gameplay. I will mention that the overall narrative isn't as solid this time. The setting is a bit too obvious on the event taking place and feels too much like an Indiana Jones adventure, and Lara has grown into the capable warrior. However, the first game utilized its atmosphere a lot better creating a rather hazy line between the supernatural and reality, and gave off this Deliverance and Just Before Dawn feel. I mainly prefer the uneasiness in the original.

Graphics/Controls/Sound:

I liked the controls a whole lot with everything giving off a fluid feel. Moving Lara felt natural from traversing the near death landscapes to crafting bombs and arrow poisons on the run. Switching through weapons on the fly while evading melee fighters attacks blended well, plus the camera follows the action nicely. I fell in love with the visuals; the snowy ice caps in Siberia was simply breath taking, and the smaller details such as the snow lightly covering the footseps stood out. When I saw Lara getting the shivers in the freezing cold I felt the need to put on a sweater. I felt the smaller details that much. The various tomb locations were brillianlty done with their own story to tell, and the underwater portions were very clear with each enviroment feeling like it had something to offer. The music captured the moods properly and never felt out of place, plus the voice acting along with fire arm sound effects are well done.

Closing:

I know of several individuals to point out that players will not find or unlock everything in their intial play through. I didn't unlock everything but I don't think it's impossible. It all comes down to how engulfed one may be in the exploration portion of the game. The cool part is that even after the game is completed, the player can still go back and search for everything which is sweet. Rise of the Tomb Raider has plenty to offer along with another actual full replay.

Originally I was having conflicting thoughts on waiting for this game to land on PS4, but I simply couldn't wait a full year and I don't regret playing it. I highly suggest to those whom are in my position that own a 360 along with their PS4 and other last gen systems to get this game anyway. The game play is outstanding, visuals are amazing, and the replay value made it worth the price tag. Definitely get this now if its possible.

Rating 9/10

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