When Tomb Raider was relaunched three years ago, the biggest surprise was the lack of puzzles to solve. The original version had been the Playstation’s answer to Zelda. You had to use your head to advance. While the 2013 version was great and required plenty of exploration, some fans were disappointed because it focused more on gun-play rather than figuring out obscure solutions.
Apparently, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have listened to these fans because the intellectual challenges are back. Does it work? While Rise of the Tomb Raider is very enjoyable, it’s a step down from the 2013 game because of weaker graphics and the fact that some of the puzzles are too easy to solve.
Plot: 8 out of 10
Pretty generic stuff. Lara Croft is pursuing villains looking for magical stuff. Twists and turns including betrayal and people suspicious of Lara at first but having to help her regardless elevate the story beyond its subject matter.
Graphics: 8 out of 10
There have been better looking games, especially on the Xbox One, but this one still makes good use of its advanced technology. The graphics aren’t as detailed as they could be, but they are flashy and accurate.
Sound: 9 out of 10
Camille Luddington voices Lara again. She’s as great as ever. This time playing an experienced adventuress, she brings energy into the role. The rest of the cast also does a good job. Even wolves bark convincingly.
Environmental sounds are realistic. That gets its own paragraph?
Gameplay: 8 out of 10
The controls are similar to the 2013 game. Third person shooting, stealth kills, and hiking are all back. A new trick is throwing littered liquor bottles. You can throw them as are to distract unaware enemies or fill them with a flammable liquid to create bombs.
All of this handles extremely well. The controls and camera are both just right. The only problem is that if you try to fight hand-to-hand, the camera tends to go wild and crazy for some reason. So try to avoid combat in close quarters.
Challenge: 7 out of 10
Reasonably challenging. The battles provide a nice tactical shooting experience. But I noted that there’s a lot of mind-benders. Well, some of those puzzles are quite easy to solve. Not all, but certainly enough to cost the game points in this category.
Overall: 8 out of 10
In my review of of 2013’s Tomb Raider (PS4 version, to be exact), I called it a “bona fide classic.” I can’t say the same for this one, but it’s a worthy sequel. Just go in expecting some easy parts.