The ledge cracks from my weight as I grip on for dear life. I push myself over the lip of the cliff and scurry away from the ledge as it falls into the blizzard abyss below.
A soulless warrior, dressed in the garb of a mongolian, yet carrying a greek shield and sword, comes swinging at me. I dodge to his side and dig my climbing axe into his neck, instantly turning him into a burning pile of ash and items.
A group of his companions come screaming at me in a language long since dead and distorted. I pull out my SMG and aim it at a red barrell right next to their charge. A single bullet causes an explosion that erupts and engulfs the group, turning the scene into sparkling ashes and smoke.
I look up and see my goal; A lone stone entrance leading into a tomb.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is the latest Tomb Raider joint to drop from Square Enix. After their phenomenal reboot/prequel Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider follows Lara trying to uncover more of who and what her father was searching for.
It starts with a nice intro, letting you jump across ice cliffs, run along edges, and just generally show-off before throwing you to a Syrian desert flashback, finding a tomb in an ancient cliffside.
Both opening sections serve as tutorials of sorts, as game developers have gotten quite tricky and totally throw instruction manuals away, allowing you to learn the game mechanics through on-screen prompts, while also giving exposition as to why Lara can perform these actions.
Pulling back from the flashback tutorials, we have Lara in almost the same situation as Tomb Raider (2013), although this time we have snow and very, very stupid enemy AI.
As I began playing and collecting the various hidden shit around the first snowy map, I realized that this was familiar, but something was missing…
I continued on, learning the history of this land I had stumbled into, a hidden empire known as Kitezh. Much of what Lara's father had researched was about this fabled lost city, but, more importantly, what the city contained.
A device known simply as “The Divine Source” is said to grant immortality, something that a figure known as the great prophet is said to have had while he gathered followers to his great city.
Through some more mission completing, tomb raiding, and resource gathering, you discover that Lara will have to sacrifice everything if she’s going to come out of this one.
The core platforming in Rise of the Tomb Raider is sharp and exciting, though perhaps a little too forgiving. It was around the second open-area, this one pertaining to cold war Russia that it happened.
I fell into a spike pit and when one of the spikes went through Lara’s head, I laughed. It was just so fake and corny compared to the ultra-realistic multiple deaths that Lara endured just a few years ago.
While it had all the necessary requirements of a modern platformer, such as leveling, weapon and equipment upgrades, varied costumes, and even a card system of varying upgrades and game modes, it just made it fell like it was playing safe even harder.
And that’s not to say that safe isn’t bad. It has all the action and all the story elements to keep playing to the end, but it’s just not as fresh or exciting as its inspiration.
The location is… interesting. Set in Siberia amongst a frozen mountainous region, it has Russian, Greek, and Mongolian elements and architecture as you discover this ancient region and the secrets it holds. And it holds a shitload of them.
While some of it was fascinating and wondrous, I found myself missing a more lush tropical environment that was prevalent in Tomb Raider (2013).
The graphics and sound are top-notch, something that should be expected of a AAA title. There is plenty to do in terms of side quests, exploration, and platforming puzzles, it’s just a matter of how much you dig the formula.
The story is interesting enough to keep me playing to the end. The late senior Croft's girlfriend, Ana, turned out to be working for a shadow military organization known only as Trinity.
Lara must learn of the locals in this region if she is to defeat Ana, Ana's brother Konstantin, and the Trinity military group he brings in search of the Divine Source.
Will Trinity find it first and rule the world? What, with Lara climbing, busting, and tagging out ancient warriors and modern soldiers?
Rating: 4 out of 5. As I said earlier, safe isn’t bad, it’s just not new. Rise of the Tomb Raider hits all the right beats, plays all the right the cards, but falls just a point short of its predecessor.
And, as I try to play all my games through to the end, the ending of Rise of the Tomb Raider saved it from a 3 out of 5 average score. I like my endings to be strong and to feel like my character developed and accomplished something, of which Lara passionately delivers.
As the third game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, in the reboot/prequel trilogy comes closer with a September 14th, 2018 release date, this game is recommended for fans of action platformers, story-driven gameplay, and all them Tomb Raider fans out there.
And don't forget my newly published cinema reviews, starting with the delightfully underwhelming Tomb Raider (2018)!