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MonsterStomp Reviews - Rise of the Tomb Raider

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It has been a very long and gruelling process for me to get back into my gaming habits, and considering I bought my Xbox One a little over 2 years after its release, you could imagine I've missed a lot in terms of what games I should buy for my collection. To this day I only really have two games I absolutely love from a narrative, visual and gameplay aspect. One of those games, by the way, is Rise of the Tomb Raider. I think Crystal Dynamics are doing fantastically with their rebooted franchise, and I'm excited to see what new heights the series will reach in future developments.

Story and Characters

Let me start off by saying that I am primarily a campaign-gamer. The fact that I consider games like Assassin's Creed II, Far Cry 3, Batman: Arkham City and recognise them as some of the best in the way of storytelling is a testament to this. I absolutely love getting lost in a story that can trigger a specific nerve in my brain to invoke certain emotional attachments to characters so that I actually give a damn about what happens to them. Not only do I get my money's worth out of a game, it grants me a positive experience which got me into gaming in the first place. With that said, Rise of the Tomb Raider tells a rather conventional story. It follows main protagonist, Lara Croft, in her quest to discover what her late father dedicated his research to. This investigation takes Lara on a journey to locate the Lost City of Kitezh with hopes of uncovering an ancient relic known as the Divine Source. With the help of a resistance order known as the Remnants, Lara combats the Order of Trinity, a modernized ancient organization which share the same goal as Lara in retrieving the relic. Now reluctantly, I must say that the narrative is fairly predictable, however it doesn't suffer significantly from it and it still has its fair share of memorable moments. Personally, I'd expect nothing more from a Tomb Raider game. In fact, the game isn't in need of a sophisticated plot for it to be enjoyable. The narrative and gameplay go hand in hand making it an invigorating experience for the player altogether, and despite being simple, the thrill is contained within its beautiful yet destructive scenery, which makes it all the more engaging and thus forming a uniquely compelling story. The game opens on a high with breathtaking visuals and jumps right into the action which fabricates the foundation on what's to come during your progression through the campaign... and I will say there are a LOT of thrilling moments to look forward to. There is almost never a dull moment in the main campaign, and for that, I think the game still deserves top marks for its execution.

The plot delves a little more into Croft's past this time around, and does a great job with establishing new her motives as well as enhancing her development from the previous game. Camilla Luddington gave a solid performance as the voice of Lara Croft. In fact, one thing I that I found bothersome in the previous instalment were the exaggerated amounts of moaning whenever Lara was in a predicament. Thankfully, this is absent this time around. Earl Baylong makes a return as the voice of Lara's good friend, Jonah, who has a surprisingly more pivotal part in the story despite the lack of screen time her has. Philip Rodriguez and Jolene Andersen make their debut as father and daughter, Jacob and Sofia, who're leaders of the Remnant Order. Jacob in particular, I now deem as one of my favourite supporting characters for his mysterious yet badass nature. An emotional bond was formed with him nearing the end of the game, which made the final moments of the story one of the most memorable moments I've encountered in current-gen gaming. Charles Halford and Zack Ward both voiced the antagonist, Konstantin, who was imposing in all of his appearances and made for an intense villain. Although voiced by two actors, its to the point where you can't tell the difference. Same thing goes for Ana's character who was voiced by Kay Bess and Laura Waddell. Speaking of Ana, this is a character who felt a little out of place. We don't really know who she is to begin with, which makes her twist predictable to say the least, unfortunately. However, with a largely strong cast and an overall solid performance, this is barely a make or break point.

Graphics and Sound

This is where the game shines. The visuals in Rise of the Tomb Raider are spectacular, and truly push the boundaries of current-gen capabilities. The game also gives players a chance to acknowledge these breathtaking environments by forcefully panning the camera to a cinematic angle whenever Lara discovers a new location, be it a hidden challenge tomb or entire cities. From the snow elegantly blowing off mountain peaks to rain bucketing into the camera, every corner of the game offers a breath of fresh air and a moment to admire the spectacle, which are enhanced only by its memorable soundtrack. Speaking of which, the music composition for this game is an amazing selection.


Lets get the basics out of the way. As a survival game, you'll spend some time collecting resources from the land to craft better weaponry, and you'll find yourself salvaging for scraps and hunting for hide. It isn't something to look forward to, but like most other survival games, you're going to be doing this at some point or another. So whether or not I should critique it for being standard in that sense, is up in the air.

With that said, Crystal Dynamics puts the player in control of a much more experienced Lara. Like its predecessor, the foundation lays upon gaining experience to spend skill points on skills which either enhance Lara's combat, hunting or survival capabilities. In addition, Lara can now improvise in the heat of the battle now, and is able to craft shrapnel and explosives to gain the advantage over her enemies. Stealth, my favourite play style, is more defined as I can now perform death-from-above takedowns and take out up to three enemies at once with the bow and arrows. I also love being able to craft special poison, explosive and fire arrowheads. It opens up more options and turns it into a more innovative thinking game. Of course, this is a Tomb Raider game, and it wouldn't be so without exploration and puzzles. Lara is equipped with more gear to account for the new challenges you'll be facing. These puzzles are smart and make you feel smart when completing them. However, where this game fails is with the lack of innovation with the side quests. They are rewarding, however if you're like me and mow through the campaign first, these rewards feel pointless by the time you get around to them. The certified challenge tombs, lack any real challenge and the rewards don't particularly feel deserving.


The game isn't flawless, though, none of the faults really impact the games fulfilling campaign experience, in my opinion. The visuals truly are a masterful canvas, and although the plot is generic, the execution is phenomenal and calls for some of the most prominent moments I've experienced in current-gen gaming.

Rating: 8/10.