Lara in Siberia
Picture; BagoGames

Lara’s back and she’s ready to raid

With so many games coming out this holiday season it can be difficult to decide which deserve the investment of your hard earned pennies. Having spent around twenty hours completing Rise of the Tomb Raider‘s (ROTTR) campaign I can safely say BUY THIS GAME. Unless you own a PS4, in which case you’ll have to wait.

Thankfully Microsoft’s temporary exclusivity hasn’t left too much of a mark on this brilliant game, save one very familiar looking login screen on Lara’s laptop. As for the game itself, ROTTR builds on its predecessor whilst adding new content and features that enhance the experience with most of it being for the better.

Things kick off with the mountain climbing sequence that was shown at E3 earlier this year, which serves to teach/remind players of Lara’s basic movement controls. It’s immediately apparent that this is going to be one gorgeous looking game with stunning vistas and great character models. However, the real beauty of ROTTR is in the details; Lara leaves deep footprints in the snow, she shivers when the wind blows and hugs herself to keep warm and when near a fire, Lara will hold out her hands to heat her frozen fingers.

Lara doesn’t need to eat to survive but she does need to slaughter her way through the wildlife of Siberia. Apparently. Picture; BagoGames

Following in the 2013 reboot’s footsteps, Lara makes her way through a series of connected areas in which there are resources to gather, bad guys to off and, of course, tombs to raid. The tombs this time around will require more of your time and mental power. There are also more of them, which will please those who found the reboot’s tombs lacking in number and difficulty.

The story is well paced and presented, with the villains extending beyond your average mysterious organisation. They’re given a surprising amount of screen time which allows them to develop into characters you’re actually interested in. The set pieces in ROTTR are explosive and fun to play through, combat has been upped and Lara can now craft all manner of explosive items on the fly which adds variety to encounters. Though make sure you play on at least Seasoned Raider difficulty to make it a challenge, else you’ll breeze through villains making Lara less Tomb Raider and more Rambo.

Environments are populated with lots of collectibles to find with many requiring you to find maps to discover them all. Lara’s skills and equipment can be upgraded in the usual fashion, with most of them being worthwhile. But similarly with 2013’s Tomb Raider, some of them you just won’t buy because there’s no need. Lara also has an extended wardrobe this time with outfits being unlocked by story progression or by doing side missions.

Lara Forest
ROTTR’s environments are varied and all of them beautiful. Picture, BagoGames

Outside of the main game there’s an Expeditions mode where you can replay sections of the game and customise your experience with unlockable cards that add items or up the difficulty. These cards can also be purchased (urggh micro-transactions) though it’s not clear why you would as the mode seems fairly pointless. Thankfully it’s easily forgettable and doesn’t interfere with the main game.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of this year’s standout games. Feeling familiar but suitably enhanced, Lara’s latest outing is a must have. With a good story, great exploration, improved tombs and the looks to match, make sure this one is on your Christmas list.

Verdict: 9/10