Rise Of The Tomb Raider: XBox One Review
Platform: XBox One
Developed by Crystal Dynamics
The re-invention of Lara Croft on the PlayStation was one of the big thrills of 2013.
Matured and stripped of the sexualisation which had blighted her and given the voice of Camilla Luddington, the origin story was thrilling and rounded.
So it is fair to say that given an XBoxOne exclusive and a degree of hype, there is a lot riding on Rise Of The Tomb Raider.
And frankly it doesn't disappoint.
With added tombs and challenges, this latest is simply one of the best of the year - and with its hidden treasures, it continues to grow the next gen legacy in more ways than one.
This time, it's about Lara trying to survive the machinations of a secretive group known as Trinity as their quest intersects in Lara's past with her father and the present with her rise to Tomb Raider.
Globe-trotting adventure is of course a given but with inter-woven narratives and time jumps, this portrait of Croft is more rounded and more of an insight into her life then and now.
Luddington's voice work and mo cap deserves some praise for that handling a script which crackles and making it something plausible, as well as emotionally deep.
From the opening sequences atop mountains which could put Everest to shame, there is much graphically to admire in Croft. Snow glistens and ice seems contoured but the world never fully grasps the ascent to superb levels at times; though that said there are some moments which took my breath away. For an XBoxOne exclusive, it does occasionally feel like the frame rate isn't quite the highest - but it has to be said, the game's playability makes these very minor quibbles fall into relative insignificance.
It's the rollicking adventure which propels Lara and the player along, as they tandem the story and scale the action heights. Weapons are once again of the bow, with Lara's trusty hunting skills once again coming to the fore over simply shooting stuff. As with the reboot, it's about crafting better fire power and utilising what's around. Crafting can be done on the quick and healing can be done mid-fight (if you have resources) giving the game a more fluid feel. Scraps here and there can be salvaged to help and using wood from trees, feathers from nests show the foraging benefits.
As the story progresses the tombs return (if anything this game is all about fathers and tombs) but there's more skill required this time and more rewards as a result. Efforts have been made to give these a depth and a reason to go off the beaten track, but they are more worthy of your investment this time.
Rise Of The Tomb Raider builds on Lara's legacy and while it's (a very close) second to the reboot, it still succeeds in creating an utterly memorable experience. It may be a busy time for games, but it'd be a crime to overlook this game - simply put, it's the best of many genres and it deserves to eat into your summer hours.