Following the runaway success of 2013’s Tomb Raider, the 2015 sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider left no stone unturned when it came to upping the ante. But upon completion of Lara’s adventures in Rise, the inevitable question crops up… where will she go next?
The 2013 reboot was fantastic. It was everything I wanted from a new Tomb Raider game without realising how badly I needed it. It was the coming of age story of an iconic character, with much-needed revival. Lara became less of a sex symbol and more of a woman I’d actually want as a role model. She’s tough, smart, and she never gives up on her goals. These qualities make for an admirable and more relatable heroine than ever before.
The game itself was great – I loved the survival-adventure element. I was terrified for half the game, but the story was done well enough that I wanted to see it through, and honestly, it was thrilling. In spite of my fears, I couldn’t stop playing it. The bow was my weapon of choice thanks to the ability of stealthily taking out enemies and enjoying the satisfaction of a perfectly timed headshot. Lara was still new to the game, but she had a tenacity to her that made Tomb Raider a very enjoyable experience.
The game did, however, leave plenty of caches open for improvement, upon which Rise delivered.
Everything; from gaming mechanics and storyline to crafting abilities, graphics, hunting areas, tombs… you name it. Square Enix improved on every possible level and the results were fantastic. I enjoyed this second instalment so much that I’m fearing that the follow-up will disappoint. But then I remembered that I felt exactly the same after the 2013 game. I was so worried that they would mess up the sequel somehow, but when I finally got to play it (damn Xbox exclusivity) my fears were laid to rest in the awesomeness that was Rise of the Tomb Raider.
If I had to single out my favourite improvement it would be the multitude of combat tactics. Now there wasn’t just one way to handle enemies anymore. This makes every playthrough different from the next. There are myriad different ways in which you could approach them, from blasting them with your shotgun, taking them out from a distance with the bow, or even avoid killing them entirely. I favoured melee stealth above all else (because Lara finally found a knife) and the challenge of getting into close proximity without being detected is an absolute thrill.
The tombs were also majorly improved on. You actually have to scratch your head now. And some of them were very well hidden – more of that please!
The Baba Yaga and Blood Ties DLC were also fantastic. Baba Yaga was my favourite because it added to the already expansive storyline, plus who doesn’t like some psychedelic gaming experiences?
I also enjoyed the fact that you could disable the Survival Instinct. It really improves the immersion, makes the game slightly more difficult, and just makes you use your own instincts a tad more. The same can be said for Endurance mode (the name being a nice nod to the 2013 wreck – keep up with the easter eggs!) I loved the fact that you literally felt like you were dropped in the Siberian wilderness with nothing but your wits to guide you. It’s a wonderful experience to replay after the main campaign.
The only drawback I have is the accents of the voice overs done. Why are the Russian guys not sounding Russian? Why is Nadia speaking in this weird English accent? The game has done an incredible job when it comes to details visually (writings, posters, materials flapping in the wind, undergrowth, vistas changing, etc.) but aside from Lara’s voice over (well done, Camilla) most other accents and voice overs felt forced and lacked authenticity.
With an icon such as Lara Croft, you want to give her more than that. She deserves more. The fans want more. So please, give us more. Keep doing what you’ve been doing – but dig deeper, bring us those treasures you’ve been hiding in your creative minds and surprise us in the next adventure. Lara’s on a winning streak – take her even higher than before.