Rise of the Tomb Raider Review

Written by Jake Tucker

January 30, 2016 | 12:22

Tags: #guns #lara-croft #rise-of-the-tomb-raider #siberia #tomb-raider

Companies: #square-enix

Rise of the Tomb Raider Review Rise of the Tomb Raider review

In many cases, these are seriously tooled up soldiers rather than cultists, as one audio log reveals a man you just filled with arrows took the job for the sweet mercenary cash but was now desperate to get out.

The game punches back frequently though, and several of the deaths for falling foul of a lethal trap are at best a little icky, at worst grossly gratuitous.

Which is a shame because the continual violence means the game feels further away from the Indiana Jones-esque adventure that it's clearly trying to ape. I can enjoy the game fine but then I'll jump too slowly to avoid a spike trap and get to watch a spike punch through Lara's jugular.

It just breaks the mood a bit.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Review Rise of the Tomb Raider review

Aside from these complaints though, it's a sterling action game. Combat is fluid and effective. I try to take most of the fights by picking enemies off one by one with a bow and arrow, but when the fan collides with the excrement there are a ton of choices and weapons to make this possible.

There's a nice escalation to the combat. Besides a fight with a gigantic bear early in the game, the combat slowly increases in severity. You start by picking off a couple of guys or some wolves, and graduate over time into gigantic brawls against legions of enemy mercenaries. It's a nice way to slowly increase your skill and learn the boundaries of the combat system before letting you use that same system to tear people apart.

I've found myself becoming a firm fan of the unique ammo types added in Rise of the Tomb Raider. The poison arrows you get early in the game allow you to take out a small crowd of enemies silently, as when the arrow connects with the first target it spaffs a noxious green gas over the nearby area, all the better to choke them with.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Review Rise of the Tomb Raider review

The firearms are fine too and a better option for quick shots when you're leaping from roof to roof to escape, but I found the multiple skills, options and upgrades expressly for the purpose of shooting people in the face with a bow and arrow far more interesting, so mostly I stuck with those.

This had two effects: Firstly I became really really good at shooting people with arrows, learning that if you couldn't shoot people in the head, a leg shot would disable them long enough for you to get in and strangle them. Secondly, it made the game a tiny bit harder, but in a nice way. With your mobility and the arrows you could still dominate firefights, but it meant I'd have to think a little more about my approach than just blowing people away as I leapt from rooftop to rooftop - which also, truth be told - was a lot of fun.

I encountered a couple of awkward performance issues. Semi-persistent slowdown as the game slowly filled all of my available memory meant I had to restart a couple of times after 4+ hours of play, while getting punched in the face in one cutscene turned Lara's face into a spiky mess. Small issues, but they slightly marred what was otherwise a fairly flawless performance aesthetically. Lara and the siberian wasteland that serves as her battleground are stunningly realised, with rarely a misstep in the design. When did games get so damned pretty?

All in all, if you can get past the weirdness of Lara Croft being the living personification of an Eli Roth movie, it's a relatively flawless package. If your PC can handle it, pick it up and drink deep. It's one of the best action adventure games I've played in recent years.
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