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Rise of the Tomb Raider Xbox One Review: 4/5!

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Rise of the Tomb Raider is the third published title from Square Enix and fifth Raider game from Developer, Crystal Dynamics. The story follows a somewhat more experienced Lara Croft as she sets out to re-establish the Croft name, which had been tarnished due to Lara’s father’s obsessional research with historical figure named the “Immortal Prophet”. In her quest to set things right, Lara is hunted by a group called the Trinity, a mercenary group founded on fanatical religious beliefs bent on keeping the secrets of immortality away from mortal hands.

Now that I got that out of the way, let us get down to business; I have always found myself in a difficult spot when I play the most recent Tomb Raider games. The decision to start an origin story with Tomb Raider back in 2013 was a nice touch to re-invigorate the story, and I grasped the concept of her inexperience and flaws as a beginner raider shown in the game which many gamers felt watered down her character. The story was well done, BUT honestly it didn’t capture me completely.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is slightly different, but slightly in a big way. Seeing as this is the first Tomb Raider for the next-gen consoles, I wanted to give this game a shot to see what the developers could do especially since I see this game for the Xbox (even though it will be on Playstation as well) as a title that can run parallel to the exclusive Playstation game Uncharted 4, which I feel that they both have very similar game mechanics and style.

Gameplay Mechanics


Rise essentially takes from its predecessor in terms of game play mechanics. Leveling and improvement of skills/equipment are mainly accomplished via side mission and hunting/gathering quests in each of the chapters of the story line. Looting from lockboxes, hunting for animal skins and completing puzzle tombs (surprise face!) grant Croft raw materials and pieces of various weapon and equipment upgrades as well as XP to improve one of three general skill categories : Brawler, Hunter and Survivalist.

Here, Crystal Dynamics have improved what essentially worked before, adding additional skills in each of the categories totaling 51 skills (24 in the previous). Further, Croft has access to more weapons than before: Pistols, rifles, and shotguns all have several different types in their respective categories as well as the much beloved hunting bow and variety of arrow heads.

Rise’s usage of stealth has improved adding shrubby and tree branch ambushes to the mix, improving some variation that players can utilize for Croft. I’ve found myself attacking from all corners during hunting and assassination quests. Added bonus, hunting a freaking snow leopard by bow and arrow from a branch like God damn Kraven the Hunter.

With all the added improvements, there is one thing noticeable about Rise, I still feel as though the controls are from it’s predecessor. And this would make sense since they were both made from the exact same game engine. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, the responsiveness is great but as a next gen title, I felt as though this area could have been improved.

Overall for the mechanics, they took something that worked and added depth which, as a player, is a exciting feature to behold.

Graphics

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Here is where I wanted to test it the most, next gen graphics for Tomb Raider. I was always impressed from heavy Role-Player games like Uncharted, The Last of Us, Dragon Age and Watch Dogs with their attention to details on surrounding areas and to characters, especially with sequels (Uncharted and Dragon age). And as I initially stated, I wanted to see how Tomb raider would match up graphically on the Xbox since PS4 will have their exclusive soon enough.

Cut scenes are done beautifully, there is no question about that. The game itself in relation to it’s prequel is definitely a step up in the next gen department. The lighting and shading quality of the next gen consoles is significantly apparent and seeing any graphics comparison videos between the 360 and One will show you. Details of characters is definitely an improvement between generations, but in comparison with its predecessor, it’s still the same to me. Again, nothing wrong with that, both are amazing in it’s scope, depth and detail, but because this was the first Raider that was built during next gen, I would have expected more.

Given that this game is also out for the 360 and possibly for the PS3, this may have reduced the production quality of the game so that it can be ported for all gen consoles, and that makes me sad inside. Allowing the game for all gens obviously targets a larger audience, but reduces the potential in the next-gen for graphics.

Still, Rise still looks great and I caught myself in awe a few times with the view, but there is wasted potential.

Story


The story line for Rise seems fairly generic in terms of plot; Lara is out to clear the Croft name by proving her father’s discovery of immortality is essentially correct and she is being hunted by a old crusader grouped called the Trinity bent on using the key to immortality for their own needs….pretty much a recycled plot of the Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider; just replace time travel with immortality item, crusaders for rich guy empire, and Daniel Craig with psycho soldier with a Alpha complex…oh wait…

The refreshing part on Rise’s story, Lara is no longer a newbie. She has some years of skill after the initial Tomb Raider game. This is still an origin story in some sense, but we’ve moved on to her sophomore years. She’s no longer skiddish about taking a life, she’s willing to drive that ice pick into the bad guy’s skull. She isn’t displaying the inexperienced raider skills that lead her into that controversial game cinematic that everyone exploded about. She’s kicking ass, taking names, then giving those names to the next people she’s kicking asses and spelunking in-between.

Overall: 4 out of 5 whiskies!

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Tomb Raider is a great game to soak in the treasure hunter realm. Even though I do feel that they could have done better, what they have done is made something great nonetheless. Croft’s character is more in line with how I would see her as a Tomb Raider, the graphics are great and the mechanics have been improved since the previous game.

Doesn’t hurt to bow and arrow a guy from 100 yards in the head and leave satisfied with that skill shot, too.


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