ROTRStory The story of Rise of the Tomb Raider is set after the the events of the original game. Lara is out to prove that she’s not insane and what she experienced on Yamatai actually happened. She is forced to race against Trinity, an organisation that are obsessed with supernatural happenings. As Lara progresses through Syria, she discovers some stunning revelations around her father’s legacyROTR1Rise of the Tomb Raider is a story full of twists and turns. The game doesn’t waste any time before putting you right in the thick of the main plot point and it is genuinely enjoyable being able to go through the story with a very relatable Lara Croft. She goes through extreme hardship and always manages to rise above. Overall, I felt that the the story wasn’t as strong as the original game as it relied too heavily on predictable set pieces and had some major plot holes which stopped it from being a true masterpiece of storytelling. While a solid narrative, these flaws detract from an otherwise memorable and well acted story.

A minor gripe in Rise of the Tomb Raider’s story is how the overall pacing affects the main story. Some of the hub areas can take you out of the overarching storyline as they’re quite large with not a lot of the main plot points intertwined within them. While this doesn’t reflect the final score and is equally a testament to just how fun these hub areas are, it still harms the narrative as things constantly grind to a halt as you will spend hours in side content.ROTR PresentationRise of the Tomb Raider is absolutely beautiful. I can’t remember playing a game that changed landscapes this many times. Everything in the game is dynamically changing whether it be the weather or time of day. Whether your under water, climbing icy mountains or trapped in a mineshaft, the game looks absolutely gorgeous. The lighting brings a level of realism that I haven’t yet seen in a game. I constantly found myself stopping to stare at all the pretty sights of Syria. The game also runs silky smoothly which is surprising considering the size of the world and amount of things happening on the screen. There is a lot of assets on display constantly, and Crystal Dynamics have achieved a stable framerate combined with a gorgeous looking world.ROTR3The overall soundtrack of the game is also exceptional. Whether you’re taking your time exploring or in the thick of a gun-fire, the soundtrack always seems to suit the specific moment of the game. Voice acting is also exceptional with a wide range of main characters taking part in the game. The only slight negative thing that I noticed with the presentation is that sometimes the transition between gameplay and cutscenes seemed a little bit janky, which shouldn’t be a true concern seeing as both are aiming for 30fps/1080p lock. Seeing as previous demoes of the game seemed to have screen tearing and immense slowdown in areas it’s a relief to see these problems (mostly) rectified.ROTRGameplay It’s so hard to know where to start talking about Rise of the Tomb Raider. On the surface, and based on what Microsoft has shown throughout the year, it appears be very similar to the first game in the rebooted series. It becomes appear very quickly that Rise of the Tomb Raider is extremely deeper than any game in the series before it. So much love and intricacy has been put into the overall game.

The best parts of Tomb Raider are evident in this installment. The same action-packed gameplay that was in the first game is present here with even more gun-fights and mouth-watering set pieces, but where the game really shines is in the open-world hub areas. This is where you’re able to break away from the action and choose how you want to spend your time. There are side missions in each area to get through, challenges to complete as well as a wealth of collectables in each area to find. You’re able to go straight through these areas or spend hours between missions getting through them. This is the most amazing thing to me about Rise of the Tomb Raider. I was more than happy to lose hours upon hours in these areas, providing much needed ‘quiet time’ away from the breakneck pace of the main story. Some players may find the transitions to be a bit jarring but it really works in this game.ROTR2The combat has been vastly improved from the last game with more ability to play the game stealthily in most areas. You’re able to take the higher route and go past enemies if you play your cards correctly. You’re also able to use environmental objects to either distract your enemies, or use resources to turn them into explosives.

The Tombs in Rise of the Tomb Raider are mostly optional and for me are much more memorable than in the last game. Each Tomb has it’s own theme and feels extremely unique and clever in how you need to solve the puzzle. Completely each tomb will give you a skill that isn’t able to be achieved outside of that tomb, really emphasizing the need to explore and conquer these tombs, thus giving Lara Croft her titular name.ROTR4Upgrades and collectives are absolutely overwhelming in this game. You’re able to upgrade your weapon through collecting resources at firecamps, through weapons parts in strongboxes, and also purchase weapons through byzantine coins. Arrows and ammo can now be crafted using resources which places more importance on hunting and scavenging resources.

Multiplayer is replaced in Rise of the Tomb Raider with the brand new Expedition mode. You’re able to replay a number of action-packed sequences and tombs in either a score-attack mode or using a higher difficulty. You are able to challenge your friends scores which is based on how many times you died, amount of stealthy kills, headshot etc as well as time to complete the section. To add even more depth to this mode, the developers have introduced cards, which can be unlocked using credits or through completing sections of the games. Cards can either add or deduct to your final score depending on whether they add a positive or negative effect to your play through. It’s a fun mode, and one that arcade fans will find a lot of joy in.

ROTR CONCLUSIONRise of the Tomb Raider is something special. I absolutely loved the last game and this one takes it to a whole other level. I can’t recall ever playing a game that had such intense action-packed set pieces yet still managed to provide exceptional open-world elements that actually made you want to take a step back and explore. Microsoft have secured an exceptional time-exclusive and i’d urge every single Xbox One owner to grab this title and not let it get overshadowed. It’s obvious that a lot of love and care has gone into the game and it goes beyond my expectations.

Review: Rise of the Tomb Raider
Beautiful WorldExceptional Open-world HubsImproved CombatExpedition Mode Will Please Perfectionists
Story Isn't As Strong As The First Game
9Overall Score
Story8
Presentation10
Gameplay9