The World

Crystal Dynamics did a phenomenal job realizing its vision of Siberia. The game has several large hub areas that were designed with the utmost care. These environments are filled with things to find and do, resulting in a believable world. Optional tombs are hidden throughout the game that offer that classic puzzle solving experience. These are short but well designed and always offer a reward. Stumbling across one and completing it always felt like a small adventure itself and only added to the already excellent world building. Each time I discovered one I actually felt like I was in a very ancient and desolate place.


The Progression

The progression in Rise is constant and satisfying. Whether you’re finding things littered throughout the environment or looting corpses, you are constantly building your inventory and skills all the while becoming stronger. You can craft resources, upgrade weapons, and teach Lara new skills depending on your preferred play style. This is broken down into the brawler, hunter, and survivor categories. I was always offered something new that improved my experience and made me feel like a more efficient adventurer.  


The Combat

Combat is not something I’ve ever come to a Tomb Raider game for. Instead it’s about the adventure, sense of discovery, and puzzle solving. However, in Rise the combat is surprisingly satisfying. I never once felt disappointed when I encountered a fight, or when there was a stretch of intense combat. Part of this is due to the excellent pacing of the game, but combat itself is also engaging and diverse due to the weapons feeling good and variety of ways to approach encounters.


Lara

While the overall story and supporting characters didn’t do much for me, I found Lara herself to be a well developed character. Since a majority of the game sees Lara trekking solo (and rightfully so), it’s only natural that she talks to herself a lot, but this never annoyed me. None of this felt out of place or forced, and I really grew to care about Lara as the game went on. Much of this development is done through her family and her desire to accomplish what her father couldn’t, and this is done with powerful effect. The Blood Ties content very much expands this, as you get to learn in much greater detail what happened to Lara’s parents. Being back in her home also allowed for further character growth.  


The Fan Service

The first hint I got of the fantastic fan service Crystal Dynamics put into Rise of the Tomb was with the classic Antarctica costume from Tomb Raider 3. Later on in the game there are more classic costumes and skins that can be unlocked and applied to Lara for use in her adventure. This even goes as far as rendering her classic character models. While this looks ridiculous on the PlayStation 4, it’s fun nonetheless. The rest of the fan service comes from the Blood Ties content, which places Lara back in Croft Manor. As fans know, being able to play in the manor was a huge part of the classic games and while it is far more story-driven here, just being in that environment again made me very happy. Additionally, you can find and play a recording that turns out to be the very same music from the classic manor stages. What really made me smile was a note I found discussing how when Lara was younger she would trick the butler into going into the walk-in freezer only to lock him inside, which is something I would always do in Tomb Raider 2.

What do you like about Rise of the Tomb Raider?