Rise of the Tomb Raider Review
Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of Rise of the Tomb Raider. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience. For better or worse, our reviews will help you decide whether or not to use cheats when playing the game.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is the type of blockbuster that Hollywood wishes it could make. From the moment that title splashed across the screen I was hooked by it's believable characters, wondrous world and thrilling action. The team at Crystal Dynamics has seemingly pored their heart and soul into this game and the result is one of the best games of the year and the best addition yet to the storied franchise. If you've got access to it, you absolutely need to play this game - you won't regret it.
Picking up shortly after the events of 2013's gritty Tomb Raider reboot, Rise focuses on the legacy that Lara's father has left and her desire to live up to it; at least that's the core of it. It's all masqueraded under the guise of finding ancient civilizations and artifacts but there's much more to the game's story if you're willing to look for it. At it's most basic Rise's story isn't much that we haven't experienced before in similar games and movies; Lara is looking for an ancient artifact that grants eternal life but it's the subtext of it all, and the fact that she's looking for an item that her father was searching for that makes everything so interesting. There's a real desire for Lara to succeed here and you'll feel it with her every step of the way.
In fact, it's that empathy you'll feel for Lara that makes Rise so damn incredible. This isn't the Lara from the last game, she's not this frail little girl looking to survive, she's looking to succeed at any cost. She's not quite the world renowned explorer we've known for years but she's getting there. There's a certain weight to everything Lara does and you're going to feel every bump and scratch she takes. Lara is such a well created character that you're likely to even start to feel bad for sending her into some of the caves and icy lakes you'll explore, and it's not made any better by her reactions as she shivers and winces in pain. All of this combined with the superb voice work of Camile Luddington and you've got one of the best characters we've seen in recent memory.
If you played through the Tomb Raider reboot, much of Rise of the Tomb Raider is going to feel pretty familiar, but it's a great type of familiar. Much like and possibly even more so than Uncharted before it, Rise completely nails the whole action adventure thing. Dangling hundreds if not thousands of feet on a mountain side while you're fumbling with the controller trying to hit the right button is incredibly stressful, but also incredibly rewarding when it goes right. Rise does a fantastic job at moving you from one set piece to another but still giving you context to what you're doing. I'm not afraid to admit that my wife had to check on my a few times while playing Rise of the Tomb Raider for review because of the screaming she heard in the next room over.
The main attraction, whether the game is ready to admit it or not are the discoverable tombs that wait for you in Rise of the Tomb Raider. While some of these are necessary to complete the main story, it's extremely rewarding to find one that's off the beaten path and solve it's mysteries. Lara's normal kit of of tools is back and they're even more useful here. All of your weapons and items can be leveled up and made better through gaining XP and some of the later tombs in the game almost require you to make use of them at their highest levels. Thankfully all of these discoverable items have been created with as much imagination and attention to detail as the parts of the main game you have to see so the level of commitment remains high throughout the entire game.
Combat is undoubtedly the weakest part of Rise of the Tomb Raider. The mechanics remain mostly untouched from the previous game and it serves it's purpose well but it's missing that certain...oomph now that Lara is such a dynamic character. You get XP bonuses for taking out enemies via stealth but Lara is such a good fighter and so great with a firearm here that there's very little reason to do so unless you're actually trying to get the XP bonus. I really enjoyed trying to keep Lara out of as much confrontation as possible in the last game since she was so inexperienced and it helped create a more dynamic character but halfway through that game she seemingly became an expert hunter so why worry about keeping her away from danger here?
Thankfully Rise of the Tomb Raider scraps the previous game's useless multiplayer in favor of the new Expedition Mode, which has you still competing against your friends but in much different ways. You can collect expedition cards which change and effect how certain challenges play out. One card for instance might grant you invisibility for short bursts, while another might ask you to finish a challenge without dying. There are smaller and more novel cards too like big head mode which are always fun.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is a superb action game that has tons of heart and character, a rare occurrence in modern games. It's the type of game that you sit down to play for twenty minutes and then wind up playing for hours since you're so engrossed by it's story and action. When the final credits rolled on Lara Croft's latest adventure I couldn't wait to jump back in and see what I may have missed. Plain and simple, don't miss this game.
Joe started off writing about video games for small fan sites when he realized he should probably do something with his communications degree and didn't want to get into the grind of daily reporting. Joining the team in late 2008, Joe is the featured game reviewer for Cheat Happens, producing up to 10 CHEATfactor Game Reviews per month.
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