By Robbie Vanderveken - For Weekender

Game On: “Rise of the Tomb Raider” aims to challenge the gamer

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“Rise of the Tomb Raider” is filled with challenging puzzles and beautiful graphics.
“Rise of the Tomb Raider” is filled with challenging puzzles and beautiful graphics.
“Rise of the Tomb Raider” is filled with challenging puzzles and beautiful graphics.

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    After many years and many not so great games, the “Tomb Raider” series was rebooted in 2013 and was one of the best games of the year. Announced a few years ago at E3 “Rise of the Tomb Raider” has been one of the most anticipated games out there.

    “Tomb Raider” was all about Lara Croft learning who she is and what she would do to survive. “Rise of the Tomb Raider” is a continuation of that 2013 story but Lara is more battle hardened and is developing into the real archaeologist and treasure hunter we remember from the classic games from the Playstation 1 era. “Rise of the Tomb Raider” is less about survival and more about raiding tombs and solving puzzles but there is still plenty of action and combat.

    The first thing you will notice is the how stunning the graphics are. All of the animations are very realistic and the level of detail and texture on everything is breathtaking. The action in “Rise of the Tomb Raider” is pretty much non-stop. Early on in the game Lara is traversing the wilderness of Siberia and the snowy environment looks great but it is full of dangers.

    There are wild animals, pits you can fall into, and a rival group after your treasure. Not only does Lara have to climb and leap but she must learn how to craft items and find hidden caves and tombs. Even though there were places to explore in the last game, “Rise of the Tomb Raider” feels much bigger and each level is like a small open world to explore. The most exciting part of the game are the tombs, each one is a huge puzzle for Lara to figure out.

    Lara has some new tools that are helpful such as the rope arrow which lets her reach higher places than normal, there is also a set of ice axes which help her climb and save her from falling on huge jumps. In order to solve the puzzles you have to rely on Lara’s jumping and climbing skills, her tools, and your wits because some have moving platforms.

    Some of the best action sequences are the combat sections where you have to fight your way through several bad guys. You can choose how you want to tackle each situation, you can “run and gun” but my favorite is to play stealthier. You can use guns but they are loud. It’s very satisfying taking guys down with the quieter bow and arrow.

    Another option is to use the environment to your advantage, you can lure enemies into danger zones and use things like crumbling floors and other pit falls to do the work for you. Sometimes you have to get inventive when taking down enemies because bullets can be scarce so you have to use whatever advantage you can to survive.

    Another survival tool at your disposal is the leveling system. You gain skill points that you can spend to upgrade your abilities and weapons such as special arrows, poison, crafting bombs and new moves.

    There are sections of the game you can’t reach without certain abilities or tools so “Rise of the Tomb Raider” has a bit of a “Metroid” element where you have to backtrack and use new tools to open previously blocked paths. Each of these new areas has collectibles to find so there is always a reason to keep exploring.

    The puzzle-solving and combat isn’t the only reason to play the game, there is also a great story full of twists and intrigue. One of the main story threads is Lara’s relationship with her father and coping with the events from the first game. The overall goal of the game is to raid ancient tombs in order to do research to find the secret of immortality. There isn’t any online multiplayer component but that’s OK because there is plenty to experience in the game.

    If you didn’t see enough you can replay areas to find what you missed and even buy cosmetic upgrades with earned coins or real money.

    Overall I love “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” the last game was good but this new one is better in almost every way. The game looks fantastic and there is a ton of content to explore and tomb puzzles to solve. The story is great and each place I explored made me want to see everything there was to find. “Rise of the Tomb Raider” is Xbox’s answer to the “Uncharted” series on the PS4 and could be a contender for game of the year especially for action adventure game fans.

    System: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

    Rated: M for Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

    Publishers: Microsoft & Square Enix Developer: Crystal Dynamics

    Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at rvanderveken@timesleader.com.

    The visually pleasing Xbox game is a welcomed sequel to the first “Tomb Raider”

    By Robbie Vanderveken

    For Weekender

    “Rise of the Tomb Raider” is filled with challenging puzzles and beautiful graphics.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_rottr-1.jpg“Rise of the Tomb Raider” is filled with challenging puzzles and beautiful graphics.

    “Rise of the Tomb Raider” is filled with challenging puzzles and beautiful graphics.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_rottr-3.jpg“Rise of the Tomb Raider” is filled with challenging puzzles and beautiful graphics.

    “Rise of the Tomb Raider” is filled with challenging puzzles and beautiful graphics.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_rottr-4.jpg“Rise of the Tomb Raider” is filled with challenging puzzles and beautiful graphics.

    Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at rvanderveken@timesleader.com.

    System: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

    Rated: M for Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

    Publishers: Microsoft & Square Enix Developer: Crystal Dynamics