I finally picked up an Xbox One, just in time to get a bundle with a couple of games from one of my favorite franchises of all time: Tomb Raider. I spent a good portion of a year in college guiding Lara Croft through challenging puzzles and raiding dangerous tombs, as well as finding creative and unnatural ways for her to die when I got frustrated with the game.
With those memories in mind, I picked up the Rise of the Tomb Raider Xbox One bundle which included that game as well as its predecessor, the Tomb Raider reboot (Definitive Edition). I had missed the reboot due to a long period of gaming inactivity, so I was stoked to get two new games to open my Xbox One experience.
While I did struggle for a little while with which game to tackle first, I ultimately decided that the experience of Tomb Raider would be damaged (in my mind) by playing its newer and technically more impressive sequel first. While I have yet to play Rise yet, from what I’ve read, I made the correct choice.
So, onto the review…
Tomb Raider was visually stunning from the get go. Part of that was due to the fact that I hadn’t really even seen a “next-gen” game before that, but that wasn’t all of it. The environments, characters, and cinematics look gorgeous – even at two years old. One of the coolest things I saw was the weather and atmospheric events. The wind, rain, sun – and changes throughout the different environments – happen so naturally and look really nice. When it’s raining, the rain drops on the screen, when the wind blows Lara’s hair responds accurately. And in close quarters combat, the blood will splatter on the screen as well.
Speaking of combat…
The gun play and take downs are, for the most part, really fun. And even more so as you upgrade your weapon(s) of choice – The bow and the shot gun were my favorites. There was a little too much action for my taste, at least when it comes to Tomb Raider, but most of the time you have choices with HOW you take out the bad guys. You can go in Rambo-style, guns blazing, or you can sneak around and take a stealthy approach. I spent a lot of my time sneaking around, using silent take downs and sniping from afar with the bow.
Yeah, but what about the tombs…
The tombs and puzzling pieces of the game are as good as they’ve ever been. Not only do they look amazing, they tend to be challenging enough to feel like a test but not to the point of frustration. There are a few clunky puzzles, but overall the game really nails that part of the Tomb Raider franchise. My only real complaint is that I wanted MORE tombs. There was an open-world feel to the game, since the various areas were fairly large and offered opportunities to explore – but not quite as engrossing as the tombs themselves.
Verdict: 8.5 (Great)
This, in my opinion, is the best entry in the franchise to this point. Visually stunning, great exploration, and fun combat makes the Tomb Raider reboot a must-play in my opinion. The story was solid, although I didn’t love the ending, and if I could’ve traded out some of the action for another tomb or two, I would’ve given it a 9. I cannot WAIT to play Rise of the Tomb Raider!