Millions of guys in the gaming world have followed Lara Croft from her 1996 debut into the action-adventure world to the present day. Leaving the fact that she hasn’t seemed to have aged a single day for decades to one side for now, Rise of the Tomb raider is 2015’s answer to the classic action-adventure series’ position in the gaming world.
Rise of the Tomb Raider has a host of fantastic elements, burning the candle of old with an atmosphere reminiscent of the days when Lara Croft used to actually raid tombs, yet updating her adventures enough to allow them to stand toe-to-toe with any action game of the modern day. An arsenal of weapons, a myriad of adventures across the globe, and some gorgeous graphics await, and this review covers some of these features in more detail
Many veteran Tomb Raider fans will have gotten used to the old Lara Croft: a gun-toting female heroine who’s easy on the eye and light-hearted in her interactions with other characters as well as in her interaction with the player. Fast-forward to Rise of the Tomb Raider, and what you see is a darker, perhaps more twisted and hardened version of Lara Croft. No longer just a bit of eye candy for the old-fashioned stereotype of the glasses-wearing gamer geek, modern-day Lara Croft is a tough master of survival, a female Bear Grylls if you will, and her adventures have considerably more depth, drama, and horror-style violence/tension than 1996’s Lara Croft could have ever imagined.
To draw a comparison, Rise of the Tomb Raider’s gameplay is more akin to Naughty Dog’s Uncharted games as it is to the old-school Eidos Interactive/Core Design games of its very own series. The goal around which all of the gameplay is set here, however, is to recover an artefact known as the “Divine Source”. This premise drives what is arguably some of the most classically Tomb Raider-esque gameplay for quite a few years. The game’s laser-sharp focus on the artefact and Lara’s quest to retrieve it actually gives the plot and the gameplay itself more clarity than the Tomb Raider games have had for many years.
The series has come a long way in terms of its mechanics, and Rise of the Tomb Raider adds more depth to the way you are able to interact with your surroundings. It remains a classic third-person adventure of course, with the camera following Lara from behind (though you can pan the camera around if you wish, so that you can get a better look at your surroundings). However, the introduction of stealthy/stalking mechanics means that you are able to shape the outcome of your encounters with the enemy by choosing a variety of approaches.
Gone are the days of encountering enemies with poor AI and simply empting your clips into them as you dual-wield your way to success. Rise of the Tomb Raider’s encounters require much more finesse from the player. In many instances this means utilising the Y-axis (i.e. the height) of the environment as well as its expansive width/area. You’ve got plenty of cover if you wish to get into a gunfight, but you’ve also plenty of area such as tree clearings, treetops, roofs, and other elevated platforms from which to launch your attacks.
Most guys like to play shoot-em-ups for their massive collections of weapons, but Rise of the Tomb Raider isn’t simply all about run-and-gun. Instead, the weapons system is one of upgrades and experimentation. There are five types of weapons in the game: pistols/handguns, rifles, shotguns, axes, and bows. The variety of the weapons themselves is rich, so expect to encounter everything from standard pistols to assault rifles through to recurve bows and something called the “Grim Whisper”. A comprehensive list of the weapons available here can be found at: http://www.tombraidergirl.com/index.php?type=content&id=561.
The game isn’t so much about the weapon categories themselves however. Rather, it’s about the tier-based upgrade system that, for instance, allows you to upgrade your standard Recurve Bow with reinforced limbs to cause extra damage, through to its Tier IV upgrade that introduces a custom shaft for extra hold time.
A Game for Guys
There’s no question that Rise of the Tomb Raider is an adventure with its claws designed to penetrate into the waiting flesh of ever gawking male gamer out there. It’s the kind of game that makes guys lose themselves for days in its action, while many girls and girlfriends out there roll their eyes at the obviously-unattainable standards of physical beauty and general perfection are personified by Lara Croft herself.
It’s difficult not to enjoy this latest game in a series that has come so far, however. Not only is the atmosphere itself darker than it was decades ago, but the graphics display the whole affair with more beauty and detail than ever. As guy games go, this one is an absolute no-brainer, which ironically requires a fair bit of brain power to crack the many puzzles contained within.