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The Rundown: The next saga in the hugely popular Lara Croft action adventure series, Rise of the Tomb Raider takes place a year after the events of Tomb Raider, the highly acclaimed reboot of 2013 where Croft discovered a supernatural force in the lost kingdom of Yamatai. Now, as her judgment and experiences are questioned as the evidence of those events are covered up by the mysterious Trinity, a secret organization with ties to the supernatural, she must race to explore more exotic locations in order to uncover the truth about the legends her father offered hints to, and stop Trinity from finding the secrets first.
Gameplay: Rise of the Tomb Raider is a third-person action game with platforming and puzzle elements, where players take control of the eponymous character, a young woman with extraordinary climbing and survival skills. As with previous entries, Lara will use the often changing environment to ascend (or descend) various dangerous areas, populated by animals, varying degrees of armed or otherwise weaponized enemies and the landscape itself, which typically features crumbling handholds, landslides, weather effects, and more.
The game will continue to employ the Salvage feature, where Lara will have the ability to craft specific weapons and tools from collected items found on her adventure, including upgrades and more, with some only available for discovery at certain times of the day or night and in very specific locations. These weapons include her now famous bow that will be upgraded as she goes and offers a number of arrow types including knockout gas and explosive tipped. Additionally, she’ll unlock access to various pistols, rifles, shotguns, knives, and of course, her invaluable climbing axes, which serve not only to get her up and down ledges and fight off enemies, but as a way to use the numerous zip lines throughout. Added to the mix for this edition are the clothing enhancements that will offer perks and advantages in particular circumstances or situations.
Lara will retain many of the game-defining skills she is well-known for, while gaining new ones in Rise that will add to her hand-to-hand combat moves, hunting abilities and shooting prowess, including a new feature that will allow her to mark various targets and eliminate them in quick succession. Another new skill is lock-picking, a favorite of the stealth genre that could lead to some interesting gameplay moments. The stealth elements also has been revamped, allowing Lara to climb trees and hide from animals in the branches or foliage below. Also, unlike the previous game, Lara can now swim, which could provide a whole new level of exploration.
One gameplay element that might be a game-changer is the removal of regenerating health, which allowed for Lara to find shelter and recover health in the reboot but will be replaced by the traditional first aid kit features of the original series. She must find cloth and other items to secure the right materials for these kits, which adds a nice depth to the survival aspect of the game.
Rise of the Tomb Raider looks to be a positive step in the evolution of the rebooted Lara Croft, with some exciting gameplay footage and new features. Highly anticipated, this next chapter has a lot of potential and will hopefully keep the series alive while continuing to push it in fresh and new directions.
First, Lara looks better than ever. The graphical improvements are obvious and Miss Croft is a beautifully-rendered character that is compelling to watch and highly emotive. Clearly, the developers too great pains to give her a realistic look, especially at her movement as players will be look at her the mostly from behind in the third-person game. Pay attention to the hair, because it’s really astounding how well it moves and flows, which might seem trivial but does a lot for adding immersion to the experience. The trailer is mostly a collage of action sequences perforated by bits of exposition, but serves well to showcase some of the expected environments, dangers and puzzles ahead. There’s a thrilling moment while she is high atop a decimated stone building, scrambling along a beam when the support in front of her explodes and collapses, giving us a hint as to how not just height will play into the survival element of climbing but also other traps and calamities. My What To Play It Now Moment comes during a gameplay moment in Siberia, after she reveals that something called “The Divine Source” is real. She scampers up the side of an ice-covered mountain and discovers ancient city in the mountain top clouds. There are a few more moments of action (including a stealth kill from above, and then we see Lara in a massive open ice cave with an old sailing vessel perched in the frozen flow. That might not seem like much, but the Lara Croft series has always been about the unexpected, and for me, there is no way the developers are going to put this moment in the game and not give a compelling reason for why it is there. Exploration is the name of the game in the any Croft entries, including those with lots of mystery, and this one has me hooked.