Previews Xbox

Rise of the Tomb Raider Hands-on Preview – Lara Ascending

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One of Microsoft’s biggest exclusives this holiday season is Rise of the Tomb Raider. This game has a lot to live up to considering how well received (and excellent) its predecessor, 2013’s Tomb Raider was. As a massive fan of this series, I was definitely looking forward to getting some time with this title during the Square-Enix event held in Manhattan last week. I can tell you right now that this seems to be every bit the amazing follow up fans could have asked for.

The portion of the game that I played took place inside of a watery cave. Being that this is a Tomb Raider title, it wasn’t exactly easy to traverse this subterranean world. But that’s also part of the fun since getting to different areas meant testing my platforming and mental skills.

The previous iteration had very smooth but tight controls and this one has somehow improved them. Lara’s movements seemed to flow more naturally than before which just added to my sense of immersion since I didn’t have any sort of control issues. Even when unexpected situations like the floor suddenly giving out under me happened, I knew exactly what to do thanks to the intuitive control and level design.


As I made my way across the cold and watery domain, I had some small puzzles to contend with. They weren’t brain breaking though; only requiring me to shoot blocks which held platforms that would lower or raise the water levels. There were also destructible walls which I had to topple in order to fill the cavern with water as well. Doing so allowed me to jump to the next platform which would in turn allow me to proceed to the next chamber.

There wasn’t much in the way of gun battles in the demo. There was one small skirmish with some bad guys which, though brief, was tense. Much like the controls for movement, the gunplay also seemed to have been improved as well, and I was able to land headshots on my would be killers with little effort. This small taste of combat was extremely satisfying and makes me salivate over the thought of bigger shoot outs in the final game.

Human enemies won’t be the only adversaries Lara faces this time around. There will be a wide variety of animals that will try to make a quick meal out of our favorite adventurer. I was told that wolves and bears will be in the game, as well as other species. While killing unarmed animals may not be the most appealing thought to some people, if it’s a contest between you and them, you have to look out for number one, and Lara is more than capable of taking down any snarling beast that tries to kill her.


One of the goals Crystal Dynamics has for Rise of the Tomb Raider is to have it show more of Lara’s progression into becoming the legendary Tomb Raider we all know. In the first game, she had to react to the situation around her. She needed to learn how to summon her inner strength and become a survivor. In this game, she is very much a proactive person. Without giving away the plot, bad men want to do bad things and Lara is taking it upon herself to stop them. The insecure and doubtful girl we knew has turned into a woman who is confident in her abilities and who has a deep sense of responsibility to do the right thing. We saw Lara’s selfless nature in the last game and now we’ll see her display this quality as she sets out to (possibly) save the world.

Those who have read the Tomb Raider comic book series will be pleased to know that it will be referenced in this game. This was something that I made sure to ask upfront because the comics were supposed to be canon. While the story of Rise of the Tomb Raider will be self-contained. it will reference the events of the comic but in a way that won’t alienate anyone who hasn’t read it.

Though I only played a small portion of it, I was told that this was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The game will contain bigger and more varied environments than ever before and have a sizable amount of challenge tombs which will reward players for completing them. More importantly, it will be the continuing evolution of the new Lara Croft into the adventure she is meant to become.

Microsoft has a sure fire hit on its hands with Rise of the Tomb Raider. It will be exciting to see what people think when it is released on November 10.

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