Releases are slow at the moment, but we are back today with Rise of the Tomb Raider!

Rise of the Tomb Raider brings our beloved Lara Croft back to the tombs and tries to recreate the Tomb Raider experience of old that many of us remember fondly. I can happily say that Rise of the Tomb Raider does this and more, making it, in my opinion, the best Tomb Raider title in quite some time. While this review will not spoil any of the main story, I will discuss some minor plot points during this review (note: videos may contain spoilers).

The Lara Croft present in Rise of the Tomb Raider is one which has matured and developed into a woman who is good with weapons, can handle groups of enemies and knows how to deal with injury and suffering. She has come a long way from her portrayal in the early games of the Tomb Raider series. The signature bow from 2013’s Tomb Raider has returned with a variety of arrow types, however, as you gain XP, Lara will also make use of an arsenal containing various shotguns, SMGs, rifles, explosives and pistols. In this regard, the weaponry which Lara has become accustomed to using is diverse, allowing you a choice of how to kill your foes. Rise of the Tomb Raider also offers a stealth vs attack option, most situations in the game can be approached with an “all guns blazing” approach, or a stealthy, calculated approach.

In terms of the upgrade system, almost everything that you do in the game, whether it be racking up kills and headshots, completing optional or secret tasks or just finishing the main story missions adds to your XP tally. As you rank up, you can choose to develop any of Lara’s three skill trees; survivor, hunter or brawler. Furthering on from that, individual weapons can be upgraded to add attachments or give the gun a stat buff, such as damage, reload speed or fire rate. The game also boasts a crafting system in which you can use scavenged materials to create new objects to assist you in your quests. This crafting system is not something which feels like it was added to the game as an extra gimmick either; you will need to take advantage of crafting as much as possible in order to be properly equipped for the mission ahead. This means scavenging as much as possible at every opportunity, nothing useful should be left behind, you may regret it later!

Rise of the Tomb Raider has been created with the aim of being as non-linear as possible and this has succeeded; the game usually feels quite like an open world title. At time, when you begin a main story mission, there will be a gameplay segment which no longer feels very linear as the game becomes very focused on the story, however, between these moments, you are free to do as your please. Rise of the Tomb Raider is full of side missions ranging across scavenging items and hunting. However, most excitingly, Rise of the Tomb Raider also offers players the chance to complete “Challenge Tombs”. These tombs are optional and do not need to be completed in order to progress with the story. However, I would strongly urge you to try them out, especially if you enjoyed old-school Tomb Raider on the PS1. These tombs go back to the roots of Tomb Raider and do not offer any help or assistance in progressing; you need to figure out what to do next by using your keen eye, developed skills and logic. To add the icing on the cake, completing these Challenge Tombs reward you by unlocking a special ancient power for Lara’s skill tree, which comes in handy as you progress through the game.

The nice thing about Rise of the Tomb Raider is the fact that the game becomes more complex, open and dynamic the more you play it. As you open up new skills, weapons and abilities, the ways in which you can complete a mission become more diverse and allow you more choice in how you want to play the game. This was one of the things which really helped me to connect with the game, so I felt like I was really playing that way I wanted to play.

In terms of graphics, Rise of the Tomb Raider looks absolutely breathtaking. The environments and atmosphere which you will encounter across Siberia in the game are stunning. Throughout the beautifully crafted landscapes, you will find a level of detail on par with some of the most graphically revered games such as The Last of Us, The Witcher 3, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, GTA V, Battlefield 4 and so on.

Upon these landscapes, Lara will battle through avalanches, snowstorms and the occasional sunny day, all of which show off the landscapes in different, equally-spectacular ways. The precipitation effects are up there with the best ever, with running water looking particularly awe-inspiring. Many people have complained about Lara’s hair in the game, as it constantly drifts and bounces around her head as she is moving; like a body of water. However, I personally am a fan of the hair effects in the game, I think they look fantastic. If you think this is something which would bother you… you had better learn to ignore it! This game is too good to not be played over some hair!

The sound effects and music present in the game are equally as impressive as the graphics. Every location in the game is paired perfectly with some music and the graphics and sound pair very well with one another. The sound effects are also fantastic, everything sounds very authentically Tomb Raider; I have no complaints here!

After you complete the main game, you can check out Expeditions mode which allows you to replay story missions from the game but with some additional restrictions. For example, you may be challenged with completing a mission within a certain time limit, or you might be given a minimum score which you must achieve before completing the mission. For the hardcore, no-death and no-damage challenges exist in Expeditions mode and these will really test your Tomb Raiding ability! Rise of the Tomb Raider offers plenty of gameplay and replay value, even with the lack of a multiplayer option.

Overall, Rise of the Tomb Raider is, in my opinion, one of the best Tomb Raider games ever made. It takes the improvements and modern feel that the 2013 reboot gave the series but also brings the gameplay back to its roots and adds an open world feel and a further improvement in graphics. Overall, this is a game you should definitely pick up!

Stick with InsideTheBox as we will be back soon with our review of XCOM2!