It isn't really the job of a review to comment on the business decisions that led up to a game being released as a timed exclusive on a platform, so if you're hoping for us to praise or admonish Microsoft for throwing a bundle of cash Square Enix's way to bring Rise of the Tomb Raider to Xbox platforms first, you're going to be disappointed. The game is here, it's available for Xbox One and as such, we'll do what we should and focus on the final game itself.
Not that we'd imagined that to be a hardship exactly, given the quality of Lara's last outing. We'll lay it all out on the table and say that it's safe to say that even though there are additions and changes in this sequel, if you enjoyed what you played last time around – either on Xbox 360 or in the "Definitive Edition" Xbox One re-release - you'll likely be happy here. Rise of the Tomb Raider is, as expected, more of the same action-packed relic hunting that, this time, encompasses quite a few genres and styles of play to produce a rip-roaring adventure. Visually, things have been turned up a notch to say the least, with stunning vistas, immense ice caverns and some incredible lighting that really sets the tone. We don't think it's an exaggeration to say that at pX Towers, "Xbox Take a Screenshot" has never been used more frequently than it was during our time with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Snow deforms relatively convincingly underfoot, the moon bathes the Siberian wastelands in a pale glow and the general atmosphere on offer adds to proceedings immeasurably. It does so whilst keeping the framerate relatively solid, too. Make no mistake, there are drops and skips here and there, but they're usually minor enough to not really affect the experience as a whole.
Modifications have been made to the pacing of the game to satiate players of the older Tomb Raider titles. Love it or not, most would say that Lara's last outing was far too heavily reliant on shootouts. It seemed that as soon as you'd cleared one area of bad guys, you'd walk around the corner and find another set to get rid of before you could proceed through a short story piece and then take up arms again. The actual relic hunting, exploration, and adventure was there, but pushed to the wayside somewhat in order to accommodate a million and one headshots. That isn't the case here. Sure, there's enough gunplay on hand for those who want it, but apart from in some specific situations (most of which tend to occur closer to the end of the game), you get the feeling that almost every encounter could be dealt with by using a bit of stealthy planning mixed with a combination of melee kills and your trusty bow. Even some apparently super-fearsome opponents found later on can be taken out in melee combat should you wish to put down your gun and put up your dukes. No matter which route you choose, you'll need to be careful with regards to your ammunition. Blaze right through from point A to point B without taking on any of the survival aspects of the game – collecting equipment to be able to construct healing salves, picking poisonous mushrooms to allow for the creation of poison arrows, etc. – and you'll soon find yourself up a somewhat icy creek without a paddle. There's a subtlety to the enemy confrontations that just didn't exist in the last game, which constantly left you with only one option.
Of course, your option count is reduced to approximately two in Rise of the Tomb Raider's canned events. You either survive or you die. If Lara lands on a roof that gives way as she hits it, for example, you'll be thrown into a sliding sequence involving quick-time events that are very much black-and-white. These sequences really push the adrenaline up but there will undoubtedly be times when you'll let Lara fall to her painful death because you simply couldn't see the exact point at which you needed to jump. On rare occasions, the timing reduces things to trial-and-error, as well. In an early part of the game, the thin plank of wood you're walking along gives way and you need to jump to a safe spot directly in front of you. You give it a second for the plank to get closer to the other ledge before you hit the jump button, only to plummet to the rocks below. A quick reload later and you find that the game wanted you to actually make the jump right away when you were further from the landing point, which a tad illogical. There are also some odd inconsistencies with what the developers allow you to actually do, at times. At one point, you'll run towards a sheer drop that will kill you and Lara will stop, giving you a chance to think twice or reassess the situation. At selected other times, you'll land from a jump and forget to release the stick for a half-second, which makes Lara just run off an edge and die. Across the course of our play-through of the single-player campaign, we reckon that this happened half a dozen times, which isn't an entire nightmare, but it's frustrating enough to make note of. We also fell through the floor of the game right after a heated battle with a bear which we only just survived. Fortunately, reloads are relatively quick and the checkpoint system is generous enough for these issues to not sting too badly, even if we did have to fight that darned bear twice…
Also helping to numb the pain of the occasional problem is the story, which is excellent. A twisting tale is on offer, revealing more about Lara, her father, and close family members. We don't want to give too much away, but we will say that it's entertaining stuff from start to finish. Also keeping things fresh is the addition of modified hardware. That axe you used to rappel up walls in the last game can now be used as a grappling hook of sorts, once you unlock the ability. When this is in play, you can jump near to a craggy wall or piece of ice, throw your axe at it and climb up using the attached wire. This works really well once you've got the timing down, although that will take a tad longer than you'd imagine since it isn't all that forgiving of a system. You can use it to swing across wide gaps too if there's something overhead that you can use as an anchor point. Rope darts can also be used as swing lines and anchors and can be cut once attached to things, which makes for some interesting timing-based puzzles along the way.
Outside of the story objectives, optional missions are available. Ally missions will provide you with new additions to your arsenal of tools and weaponry and become available during the main story. As we say, they're entirely optional but are worth checking out if you want to maximise Lara's effectiveness in a firefight. Challenge tombs also feature once again. Also optional, these are much more complex than we remember from the first game, and will provide a real test to budding raiders. One notable achievement is awarded for completing all of them during a single playthrough, so that may be something to bear in mind before you begin, unless you fancy taking a couple of runs at the story.
That's something that will be tempting, too. Mainly due to the fact that early on, you realise that there are specific areas that you simply cannot reach due to not having had the opportunity to unlock specific weaponry and tools. There are a few barricades that can't be taken out as you don't have the rope dart or fire arrows and initially, you'll fancy that this is because the developer has decided to liven things up for your second run in a complete "New Game+" mode. That isn't altogether the case. Rather, you're able to replay each level as a separate entity as part of Rise of the Tomb Raider's "Expeditions" mode. Chapter Replay and Chapter Replay Elite (the latter of which allows you to play through any level with the hardware that you have on hand at the end of the story mode) are here, as is a Score Attack mode that lets you play through sections of the game with the goal being to collect pickups, uncover relics, take out enemies, and get to the finish in the fastest time possible. Also on hand is "Remnant Resistance", which is the closest thing you're going to get to multiplayer play, aside from Score Attack's leaderboards.
Remnant Resistance is an interesting affair, allowing you to create your own challenges and missions for the world to play, using the various tools that are on hand. You might wish to task players with taking out a set number of enemies, killing a set amount of bears, and reaching the goal in a certain time. You might want to change the weather in the scene, from clear daytime skies through to a blizzard at night. Once you've set your goals, you might fancy playing a few modifier cards to mix things up. You can enable "Big Head" mode for example, give Lara a specific weapons loadout, or apply buffs and debuffs to make the experience more or less challenging. There are thousands upon thousands of combinations here and every challenge you create has its own leaderboard, so you can challenge the world to beat your scores. Obviously, if you don't fancy doing any of that, you can take on somebody else's created challenge. Remnant Resistance works very well and is a very creative solution to including multiplayer in a game that – even though some loved it last time around – probably wouldn't have a massive player base for live multiplayer play.
Score Attack is moreish fun, but we should mention the modifier cards more in-depth here, since their use is imperative to your success on the leaderboards. Modifier card packs are paid for by credits which you can earn in-game or – unsurprisingly enough – purchase using micro-transactions. You'll probably not come close to earning a "Gold" score on any of the levels without using a couple of boosters and card distribution amongst the packs is pretty random. Higher-level packs (which reward you with better boosters) cost a somewhat astronomical amount of credits that will take an unreasonable amount of playing time to earn. You could feasibly pick up a pack of the lower-priced cards and find that there's absolutely nothing that will help you reach a higher score, so more could be done here to level things out, we feel. You can use the less worthy cards to create your Remnant Resistance missions or just sell them back to the house for credits, though they aren't generally worth all that much. We will note that after a fair amount of playing time, we still have an absolute stack of cards left to use – and you'll earn enough credits if you beat challenges during your expedition runs to pick up some cheaper packs – and we haven't spent a penny on them, so your mileage will vary. We can see those who really want to go for the gold needing to fork out some cash, though.
You do get awarded packs of specific cards during the campaign, which is a nice touch, especially since the campaign will undoubtedly be where you start your journey, as well it should be. Starting anywhere else would be foolish when the gameplay is as rewarding as it is here. While some parts of Rise of the Tomb Raider will feel very familiar to those who played the last title and it may have its flaws, the tweaks and changes to the mix that may seem minor at first – combined with the fact that the game is an absolute visual treat – means that the in-your-face action and puzzling combination on offer here is well worth the asking price.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is not perfect, but the areas in which it lacks are relatively minor technical issues and the story does a great job of picking the player up to ensure that they jump right back into the action if they fall foul of a problem. Once you've beaten the campaign, you'll be tempted by the addictive Score Attack mode, as well as having an eye on playing through the whole thing again to pick up a few more achievements, something which - rarely these days - is no chore. The switch to a style of play that doesn't rely solely on raw firepower is the absolute key to the game's success and that, mixed with a plethora of action-packed adrenaline-boosting scenes, makes Lara's second return an absolute blast to play.
Got the game and season pass pre-ordered. Can't wait for Tuesday. Great review, @SuperKMX.
Great review @SuperKMX.
Nice to hear that they tweaked the balance of combat, story and exploration.
Nice review, Ken. Glad you made the deadline. The high praise has me more interested in this game.
Great review and hopefully much more aligned to what I believe my own view of the game will be rather than the skewed one I've just read on another popular UK gaming site. Appreciate the way you handled the exposition of the card system (and MT's) and that it hasn't been allowed to taint your opinion of the rest of the game.
Can't wait to get my hands on this!
Nice review @SuperKMx. Really pleased to hear the story is good and the exploring side is being increased. I did think the tombs on the last game were a little too basic. Will be picking this up if 'Santa' doesn't bring it to me.
Great review @SuperKMx I know I won't be playing it until after Santa has been but I still haven't finished the first one so it's no big deal. I am really enjoying the first one so this should be great.
My issue with the last one was the lack of replayability, you just wandered around the empty world looking for collectibles. This game seems to have alot more fun stuff to do, but unfortunately Fallout takes priority
Ah SellOut Raider, shame I'll NEVER buy this game because of the bullshit move but alas.
Really good review, thank you.
As several achievements are tied to a 'gold' score and the necessity of buying cards to get this, I won't be buying this game. I'm not in the market of purchasing achievements.
@NaughtyOttsel22 Your loss.
@NaughtyOttsel22 You mad bro?
On topic, great review Ken. I'll pick this up after I finish Fallout 4, so some time in 2016!
@SuperKMx Nah, saves me £50
@Red620Ti Nope, happy as can be.
@Red620Ti I'm the same as you are pick this up after fallout 4 I'm actually playing it now as got it early its fantastic game.
Fallout is reviewing even better, so either way you can't go wrong. I think this Tomb Raider might be much more replayable than the last one though. The description for the season pass indicates there will be content that extends the campaign.
@Gamer83 I think this game might struggle with the other top games out in the last few weeks I hope it does well as I love tomb raider but do you think it will be peoples first or 2nd choice at the moment. 😊
I'll try to have this game by Friday. I've been waiting for this game.
How well is it doing? I'm afraid it's going to be a glitchy mess like every other Bethesda game at launch
It's going to struggle, and though this next statement may bother some people here, I don't care as I'm not a fanboy and hold strong to my opinions, the fact that SE was idiotic enough to cut out its largest fanbase, the PlayStation gamers, for a full year will hamper the game. It certainly isn't going to 'grow' the franchise like SE has been trying to suggest it will.
90 on metacritic last I looked. Rise of the Tomb Raider was close at 87, with only two reviews under an 80. So either game you can't go wrong. I also don't think you have to worry about performance issues unless you purchase on PS4 as Bethesda hasn't shown to be able to work with PlayStation hardware in the past. I never had a problem with a Bethesda game on Xbox though.
@Gamer83 your a 100% right no doubt about that.
@Gamer83 Wow you were one of the most outspoken person on how this was a **** move by MS and you go and buy the game and season pass??? Great job showing them that you wont take their ****. I just don't understand you at times. You say one thing and then do another.
Well don't complain when MS does this again.
I said a long time ago I was buying the game, I bought an Xbox One for it and Halo 5, doesn't mean I have to like the move or think it's smart business. I also said MS wasn't the company to get mad at, it was SquareEnix. MS is trying to sell a console, I don't think this is the game that will do the numbers they're hoping but they have to try. It was SE that I thought made the **** move. Sony went and made the move for SF V. I don't think it's smart business. I'm not going to miss a game I want to play. But in the end, don't worry how I spend money, just like I don't worry how you spend yours. Thanks.
@Gamer83 How are you going to miss a game that you want to play when it's coming to PS4 as well? I am just confused that's all. Not worried about how you spend your money, you just confuse me that's all.
As for SF V. I like how people (not just you) compare what MS did with Tomb Raider to what Sony is doing with SF V as the same thing.
Street Fighter V would have not been made otherwise, Rise of the Tomb Raider would have. And before you go on saying oh Capcom would have made Street Fighter V cause the fans demand it. Yeah Capcom is great for that, just like how the fans have been asking for a new Mega Man game, or physical releases of new Phoenix Wright games in NA. Yeah Capcom always listens to their fans.
I don't want to wait a year to play it, that simple. It's like I said, I made the decision and said it a long time ago that I'd be buying the game. I still think this could be a huge blow to the future of the franchise though and I expressed my opinion on that. Not a big fan of third party exclusives in general unless it absolutely has to be done. I'm not convinced this or the SF V deals had to be done. But that another topic and I don't want to sidetrack this comment section. I'm more than willing to discuss this if you want to start a thread about it in the forums.
@Gamer83 I honestly think people are just making a big deal out of it really. I honestly don't think it will hurt the franchise (it's been hurt for a long time) if anything it just creates more ammo for fanboys of MS and Sony to use against each other.
I just was confused that's all as I can remember time after time again you saying how this was a **** move by MS. But sadly you just proved their point that's all. That yeah even though it was a **** move it got you to buy the console and the game before Sony got it so in the end it accomplished what they hoped for and that it will work again in the future.
You won't buy it. And, literally, no one will care.
Glad that's settled. Lol.
@KelticDevil B' awwww, don't worry not many people will buy this sellout.
And here we go with a Push Square guy coming over here starting crap about Tomb Raider. Ugh. Lol.
Sony IS doing the same thing with SF V. You saying the game wouldn't get made otherwise is ridiculous. Of course it would have. And Sony is doing exclusive marketing & DLC deals all over the place at the moment. How is buying DLC any different? Give me a break.
If Gamer83 wants to not wait a yr. & buy this for Xbox, why do you care? I think he is one of the most honest & sensible readers on these websites (who comments) & tells things how he sees them, regardless of which company (Xbox or PlayStation).
@KelticDevil I am not starting anything about Tomb Raider, I was just confused by Gamer83 that's all and I don't care if he doesn't wait a year to by a game. I was just saying that he said that he got it because he wanted didn't want to miss a game he wanted to play which didn't make sense since by owning an Xbox One you wouldn't have to miss anything since it will be coming to PS4.
Seriously man you need to stop taking everything I say as an attack on the Xbox community it's getting old. But you know I find I funny that you make these accusations over here instead of Push Square. Why don't you come over there and spew your ****? Probably cause you know what would happen so you hide here like a coward.
@NaughtyOttsel22 I will get it in a year when it comes to PS4.
@Tasuki I will never buy it.
Ok, two things. When I decided I was going to buy Tomb Raider for Xbox One it was still unknown if it was coming to PS4, even if it had been known, I wasn't waiting a year. I was outspoken about not liking the deal but at the end of the day I'm not going to miss a game I want to play. Also, it was SquareEnix that I was frustrated with, not MS. I get why MS made the deal, I just question if it was the right move. Just like I question if Sony has spent its money wisely on SF V. These games are great games, I don't know if they're system sellers. I like both franchises enough to buy a console for them but I'm not sure they have that kind of appeal with today's market. And that's going to be my last comment on this because things have derailed enough.
Haha. You avoid my point about SF V, Sony buying exclusives & DLC & just "spew ****" & anger, as usual. Aren't you a mod over at Push Square? Real mature.
And what would a be a "coward" of exactly? Comments on a website? Oh yea. That would keep me up at night. Lol.
I don't go to that website because I think it's a lousy website full of biased articles & the community (including you) is a volitile mess.
Instead of going after Gamer83 for buying Tomb Raider on Xbox, maybe you should play some of that exclusive Destiny content Sony purchased.
Either way, Gamer83 is not some Xbox fanboy & can buy whatever he wants. Worry about yourself.
@Gamer83 Yeah I get it it's all cool. I probably just don't remember you saying is all since you probably only said it a once or so instead of over an over like you did about such dealings that's all. I know your not one do just by a console for a BS exclusive like that but then again what does it matter to me if you did. Honestly if I had an Xbox One I probably would have bought Tomb Raider as well but since I have a huge back log as it is I don't mind the year wait honestly.
I apologize if I came off rude didn't mean that at all as I said I was just confused, that's all.
@KelticDevil You obviously don't read well do you. This has nothing to do with anyone being a fanboy, I didn't call him one nor did I imply he was one I was just confused by his comment.
And you talk about the community over at Push Square. Yeah you make the community look real inviting over here. You seriously need to knock that **** off.
It's all good. I get a little hot headed sometimes so maybe I said some stuff right after the deal happened that you're remembering that I don't remember posting. I just remember not too long after that Gamescom announcement, along with some other games MS had lined up, I decided to get an Xbox One. No hard feelings, just explaining my side of it.
Damn what happened here? But anyways.Great review! Already bought this,cause i knew this was going to be a fantastic game. And @KelticDevil You really don't like Sony or anything that relates to Sony huh? Or better yet Push Square, you have so much hate for that site i don't know why.
Everyone was just talking about the game until you showed up & went after Gamer83. Just sayin'.
I am just saying the guy should be able to comment about the game he bought w/o being questioned by you You are the one who turned this into some anger, threat filled thing.
If someone pulled what you just pulled here over at PS, you would've been ripping them a new one.
@Gamer83 Not a problem at all. Honestly I am just tired of people complaining about a company making a deal with this developer and that one making a deal with this one in all honesty it's quite sad but that's the ugly side of business. I am at the point now that I just don't care anymore and if I miss a game cause some douche company wants to make deals so be it I got plenty of other stuff to play.
In honesty I like at times how outspoken you are and more often then not it cracks me up that's why I was like WHAT!? when I read your first comment. Again sorry if I seemed to come off rude about it.
I don't mind Sony at all. I have owned & enjoyed every PlayStation released. I even owned a Vita.
I don't like hypocrites like Tasuki. Otherwise, I am good. Lol.
@TwilightAngel I could tell you why but yeah that would just lead to an argument.
Back on topic.......great review. Glad to hear this game turned out well since the reboot was awesome.
Somehow I always find myself in the middle of these kind of discussions on all 3 websites, probably because my opinions go against those of today's gamers. Anyway, I got no problems with anybody. I actually enjoy the heated debate.
@SuperKMx, when you see these comments, sorry if I got things off track, wasn't my intention.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled review.
@SuperKMx Yeah sorry for the derailment it's all good.
@KelticDevil @Tasuki @Gamer83
Things appear to have gotten off-track somewhat. Let's draw a line under it starting with this very post, please.
Sorry about that.
No worries. Glad to hear you like the game.
Sounds pretty good, I will ask for it for Christmas. I'm in no hurry and have plenty to play as it is right now.
I am so happy to see this game turn out well. The reboot was one of my favorite single-player games. Now I just have to decide whether I'll pick this up during winter break or wait until next year when it is cheaper.
I have Tomb Raider Definitive Edition for PS4 and I love it. Collecting everything was actually fun. I'll get this game whether on PS4 next year or Xbox One... Anyway, I have several games to play first.
I'm really looking forward to this game. I have to wait until Friday though. I seem to be in the minority but this was one of my most anticipated game for this year. Easily top 3
@Utena-mobile I haven't found any "funny" costumes in there, no. You can force people to use specific outfits if you're creating your own level, but that's about it. There may be some in there - could be that I just haven't found them yet!
Yeah it's a pretty cool poster. I didn't expect to get it but apparently if you pick the game up at Gamestop you can one with the purchase. Not sure if other stores are doing the same thing.
It was a top 5 most-anticipated for me. Along with Metal Gear Solid V, Halo 5, Batman: Arkham Knight and Mortal Kombat X.
I played for about 6 straight hours before going to bed last night and another few before work earlier today. I'd say right now, unless something goes terribly wrong, this is my easy choice Game of the Year. The only one I'd say is close would be MGS V but that game, while great, had some disappointing issues that brought it down a bit in the end.
" you find that the game wanted you to actually make the jump right away when you were further from the landing point, which a tad illogical."
I fell at that EXACT. SAME. SPOT. Lol.
The game is utterly amazing. That is all.
Any good single player content in the season pass? I know they like to include a lot of side modes and multiplayer stuff. But I'm just interested in the single player. I know it said it was going to add one tomb but I'm thinking one tomb doesn't justify $30
Awesome comic btw!
@NaughtyOttsel22 Okay. Congratulations. You wont buy it. Just stop. You never have anything nice to say.
There was nothing I noticed from the season pass for day one. Honestly, I'm taking a leap of faith here but the reason I sprang for the season pass is because they said there's going to be story-expanding content and back in the early Xbox 360 days when Underworld came out Crystal Dynamics provided DLC for that which was excellent. They said there's going to be weapons and gear added 'from day one' and it's supposed to last for a few months. If I notice anything I'll start up a thread in the forums and keep updating.
I need to pick this up, had just got an xbox one a week before it was announced and although I might get it for ps4 next year (if it includes dlc ect) I cannot wait to play this, and after finishing the uncharted trilogy again I need an adventure fix 😊
If you do cave in and buy it soon, you won't be sorry.
@Gamer83 It sounds amazing! Can't wait to play it on friday. I'm also interested in how you like the season pass, I feel hesitant after feeling burned by the Batman dlc
FFS. Can we cut the crap comments and stick to the game review? It's really tedious reading through line after line of negative slurs just to get the actual VALID comments!
See post #46: "Things appear to have gotten off-track somewhat. Let's draw a line under it starting with this very post, please."
@SuperKMx - Please sort this out as your (quite clear) message was not understood by some.
@Captain_Chao5 It's OK, NaughtyOttsel22 has now been banned.
Disappointed I have to wait a few days after the US to get my pre-ordered copy (don't understand why there are different release dates) but really looking forward to playing this.
I have been a fan of Tomb Raider for many years but the reboot blew me away for the often brutal and emotional story telling and humanisation of the characters. Whilst I was disappointed there wasn't any real 'Tomb Raiding' like previous games, it did fit in with the narrative and also left me wanting this game (Rise...) long before it was announced.
Just had my 'dispatched' email notification - Also coming with the 'Hopes Bastion DLC pack' whatever that entails...
@SuperKMx Sanity restored. Thanks.
As some others have said, I put Fallout ahead of Tomb Raider. It's been bought for me but I asked my fiance to not give it to me til my birthday in a few weeks... I have to admit I am now getting very excited for it! Love the new take on Lara.
Hmmm...My Wife's birthday is early next month. I wonder if she wants (read as NEEDS) a new Lara Croft game. LOL That's if I can get her away from AC Syndicate!
Oh my goodness, I never expected to see you again once Fallout released! I'm actually more excited for Tomb Raider now too, I haven't even picked up my Fallout I've pre purchased yet, I've been so addicted to Halo
Still aiming for this coming Friday to get this game. Payday. Really looking forward to it.
I actually haven't had as much chance to get into it yet as I'd hoped but my mini-awesome is away this weekend, so I shall hopefully get more time to play. I doubt I'll even be close to done with it by the time I get handed Tomb Raider so it'll be a tough choice which I'm gonna want to play more!
@Gamer83 thanks yeah looks amazing everything I liked about the first game sounds like it's been tweaked and perfected, looking forward to losing myself in this game for a while 😊
So I went ahead and bought the season pass, but it won't install. If I go to the in game additional content menu it says "buy for $29.99" so I click on it and it says "you already own this content- install now?" I click YES and it takes me to a blank grey screen.
If I go to the store and click on "manage" for the season pass it does the same thing- takes me to a blank grey screen.
I read multiple reports on Reddit of the same thing happening to other users- just curious if you are experiencing the same issue?
Yup, same thing happened to me. I'm not too concerned though because the message is saying the season pass has already been purchased. Probably just means I'll have to download the content by going to the store through the in-game menu.
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