When Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix rebooted the Tomb Raider franchise in 2013, they pulled off a massive achievement. They’d redefined one of the most famous video characters of all time – an iconic one at that – by giving her a believable origin story that threw away the tacky sex-symbol rubbish synonymous with everything in the mid-90s when Lara Croft was initially popular. Instead we had a real heroin, not defined by her appearance but by her archeological and investigative prowess. The game was vast, the environment believable, and the whole thing was a hoot to play through.
In 2015, they returned with a second instalment that continues the story. It follows Lara on her journey to Siberia and the legendary mythical city of Kitezh. Her father had been researching it prior to going missing and presumed dead, and the city’s may or may not have powers that grant immortality. However, she is racing to discover the secrets against the organisation Trinity, who intend to use the powers for their own personal gain.
Considering the 2013 release was so successful and enjoyable, it is amazing to see that Rise of the Tomb Raider improves in every department. It is very much a continuation of the same game, looking and feeling like it’s of the same environment. However, the world itself is gigantic in comparison to its predecessor, with much more to explore and a suitably larger playing time to go with it.
I played through the game on the hardest possible difficulty level – Survivor. I’d consider myself somewhere between casual and experienced when it comes to 3rd-person action adventures, so this presented a reasonable challenge but it was by no means impossible. There were a few instances where I got frustrated and had to take some time out to plan a better strategy, including the final many-waved boss fight. But with some perseverance I managed to get through with a sense of accomplishment.
There are plenty of side quests, collectables, points of interest and relics to find. These essentially serve to slow down your progression and extend the total playing time beyond natural completion. Honestly, they don’t add a lot to the experience, but if you want to do the minimum then you should at least seek out the optional challenge tombs. They’re taxing and give skills that are extremely useful in your progression through the game.
I also completed two of the DLC quests – the rewarding Baba Yaga story being far more entertaining than the unfathomably dull Blood Lines.
If you’ve played the “first” game, then this should be top of your list of purchases. It’s cut price now and available on almost every platform.
You won’t be disappointed.