MORE TOMBS, LESS CRINGE
Rise of the Tomb Raider
IN SEARCH OF ANSWERS Lara’s return in the wellreceived 2003 reboot was praised for its strong writing, atmospheric presentation, and focus on survival-based gameplay. Despite borrowing liberally from Naughty Dog’s series, the addition of skill progression and in-game challenges ran parallel to Lara’s development as a character in this origin story. A Definitive Edition soon followed with enhanced visuals, improved physics, and native 1080p presentation (at least on the PS4 release). It was only natural that a sequel was greenlit, but as a timed exclusive for Xbox consoles? While PS4 owners will have to wait till late 2016 to have a go at PC gamers only have to endure a brief two-month wait to pick up where Ms. Croft last left off after the Yamatai expedition.
Having survived her brush with the supernatural, Lara’s sophomore adventure concerns the search for the Divine Source, an artifact
APRIL 2016 believes to hold the secret of immortality. Her late father’s research points to the lost city of Kitezh which, according to Russian folklore, is plunged beneath Lake Svetloyar to protect it from invading forces. The journey will take players through some of the most treacherous parts of Siberia, all while keeping Lara one step ahead from a ruthless paramilitary group named Trinity, who is also (surprise, surprise) after the same ‘MacGuffin’. NEW AND IMPROVED Many of the major collectibles return, but there’s also the need to scavenge for resources in the wild to craft specialty arrows, improved ammos, explosives, and healing items (ala
on the fly – adding to the sense of urgency during combat. One of the main criticisms levied against the previous installment was the dearth of ‘proper’ tomb raiding. Many were disappointed with the number of optional tombs (eight if you count the DLC) and found the puzzles to be simplistic at best. This time around, there are nine Challenge Tombs that are easily missed if you’re not looking closely, and they can be quite satisfying to complete.
While combat has been refined to a certain degree, the exploration and platforming aspects remain the strongest elements in
especially with the inclusion of stealth climbs and underwater swims. Once again, there are large hub areas connecting the more linear paths for Lara to traverse, and you’d do well to revisit previously inaccessible locations to uncover hidden items and other surprises. The PC version is even more of a stunner, as evident in the high visual fidelity demonstrated by the real-time cutscenes. There are also a respectable number of graphics options to enhance the visuals further, such as PureHair, HBAO+ ambient occlusion, dynamic foliage, and more.
TESTED & RATED
Easy does it…