Rise of the Tomb Raider Xbox One X Review

August 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Xbox One, Reviews & Features, Xbox

Publisher: Square Enix  Developer: Crystal Dynamics  Genre: Action Adventure

Players: 1  Age Rating: 18+  Other console/handheld formats: PS4

Crystal Dynamics took over the development of Tomb Raider and refined it in a number of ways, although it wasn’t until the release of the 2013 reboot that they were able to put their own stamp on the game. This may not have necessarily been the Tomb Raider game that die hard fans wanted, although it was definitely an impressive game in its own right. The sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider – like Crystal Dynamic’s earliest Tomb Raider games – is more of a refinement of the reboot than anything else. 

Rise of the Tomb Raider sees Lara Croft heading off to snowy Siberia to follow up on her late father’s research on immortality as well as an ancient lost city, and there’s also an organisation known as Trinity for her to deal with. As with the reboot, the Lara Croft featured here is a more rounded character than she once was, and she’s definitely likeable, although perhaps the character could have been given a little more youthful enthusiasm, as she’s seeing things in the world that many in their early twenties wouldn’t and she also wouldn’t be doing what she’s doing if she didn’t have a major interest. All the latter is taking nothing away from Camilla Luddington’s performance, as she continues to do a fantastic job in bringing the character to life. Character flaws aside, and like Lara herself, the story is likeable enough and the small cast of characters means that it’s very easy to focus on. 

This version of Lara Croft is once again all about the bow and arrow as opposed to the dual pistols she was once famed for.

Other than the colder Siberian environments and subtle changes here and there, Rise of the Tomb Raider is definitely a game that can be considered a safe sequel, although having just been rebooted in the previous game, this really isn’t a surprise. You are still running and jumping around beautifully designed environments, doing lots of killing, as well as being resourceful with Lara’s equipment. Being that the game has a Metroidvania structure to unearth some of its secrets, you can even make use of new equipment by returning to environments. 

The challenging platforming of Tomb Raider of old is long gone, but it’s still enjoyable enough to make your way around the environments, scaling them (while we’re on this subject, a new pickaxe allows you to cling onto and climb specific walls), jumping from ledge to ledge, and there’s also a beauty and grandeur to each semi open-world area that makes it feel like a Tomb Raiding holiday. The hub areas are around three times the size of the ones in the previous game, and there’s plenty of variation to be found in each individual area.

Each environment is large with plenty of collectables to seek out, with optional missions and ancient tombs for you to also discover. Even though they are optional, some might even say that there’s too many collectables to find, and also that being that Lara’s survival instinct is always just a button press away, it’s too easy to make use of this as opposed to making use of your own eyes in order to explore. Loading times between areas are also very long, which can be annoying when you just want to play the thing. 

Like the previous game, there’s also a high body count across its 13+ hour duration, as Rise of the Tomb Raider also has a heavy amount of action, and some might say that the modern day Lara Croft is more like John Rambo than the Lara of old, and this is something that cannot be argued with. You are even able to make resourceful use of objects lying around the environments in order to craft explosives, and there’s also a reliable cover system when things get hot. The enemy AI isn’t particularly smart, although the explosive action is definitely enjoyable, and there’s also opportunity for stealth play as well, making use of distractions as well as brutal takedowns. 

Fans who miss the Tomb Raider of old will perhaps be most at home with the games nine challenge tombs, and there’s more of these to discover in comparison to the reboot, albeit only two more. These optional tombs are also larger in scale than previously, but perhaps more tomb raiding could have been incorporated into the actual story as well, as there just isn’t enough of it. These tombs are generally where most of the puzzle solving is to be done and are rewarding in the way that getting to the end of one will unlock a helpful new skill. All in all, tombs are definitely one of the game’s biggest strengths outside of the typical things that you are doing.

Lara still has to contend with dangerous animals.

On your travels you’ll come across camps, which return from the reboot. Here you are able to fast travel to other base camps as well as upgrade Lara’s weapons, gear and skills. When it comes to the skills, they are split into survivor, hunter and brawler, with each having their own set of upgradeable skills, and there’s a lot that can be learnt throughout the adventure. By request, more upgrades were put into the game compared to the reboot. 

Rise of the Tomb Raider also has an Expeditions mode, which is essentially a place where you can create and play custom missions as well as a score attack mode, or simply replay chapters from the game.  In some of these games you are able to make use of one-use cards to modify the gameplay (increased shotgun damage, burning enemies, automatic weapon reloads, and so on), which will add longer legs to the game for some. Card packs can be unlocked by completing specific sections in the main game or can be purchased with in-game credits or real world cash, and depending on what they are, modifications will increase or decrease your rewards. All in all, Expeditions is an interesting suite of options if you want a reason to continue playing other than going through the campaign again on, say, a different difficulty level. 

Rise of the Tomb Raider is a triumphant sequel that may not quite have the set pieces of an Uncharted game, but it’s still a memorable adventure in its own right. Long loading times and unintelligent enemy AI may be blemishes against this otherwise grand adventure, but the sizeable open environments, explosive action, and snowy sights are something to behold, meaning that Lara’s young rebooted career, like the archaeologist herself, continues to go from strength to strength.