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Rise of the Tomb Raider is outstanding, but it’s hamstrung by the Xbox One

After the release of the well-regarded Tomb Raider reboot back in 2013, expectations were raised substantially for Crystal Dynamics’s next installment in this beloved action-adventure franchise. Fortunately, the game meets or exceeds those expectations in nearly every way. However, since the game is a timed exclusive for the Xbox One and Xbox 360, it’s no surprise that the performance is hampered by the limited hardware upon release.

With a total of 74 reviews, the Xbox One version of the game is sitting pretty with a score of 87/100 on Metacritic. In fact, our sister site IGN liked it so much that it awarded the game with an “amazing” score of 9.3/10. Compare those numbers to the previous game’s metascore of 86/100, and IGN rating of 9.1/10, and it becomes clear that this release is a worthy follow-up.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is undeniably an excellent game, but how does it hold up from a technical perspective? As per usual, Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry has examined the Xbox One version of the game, and results are something of a mixed bag. The majority of the game runs at 1920×1080, but it seems that cutscenes are only rendering at 1440×1080 (stretched out to a proper 16:9 aspect ratio like other notable releases).

As far as frame rate goes, the game can’t quite maintain a 30fps lock. While the frame rate is solid most of the time, it often drops noticeably during combat — arguably the absolute worst time for instability. Some environments and NPC crowds can also cause some stuttering and tearing, but those are slightly more forgivable since the gameplay isn’t meaningfully impacted. The game also suffers from a few issues around shadows and motion blur, but those are small potatoes here — nothing to get worked up about.

By and large, this game is a real looker. The animations look incredible, the lighting and geometry are completely believable, and Lara’s hair has never looked better. It’s just a shame that such a gorgeous game can’t reach its full potential just yet because of a business deal with Microsoft. When the PC version launches next year, we’ll finally be able to see exactly how beautiful this game can be. And while the PS4 version most certainly won’t be able to stand up to the PC release, it’s safe to assume it’ll run better than this version.

As for the Xbox 360 version of the game, early reports look relatively promising. While this port wasn’t done internally at Crystal Dynamics, it was placed in the capable hands of Nixxes. You can expect a lower resolution, an imperfect frame rate, and less impressive effects overall, but you’re still getting the complete gameplay experience on decade-old hardware. And since last-gen releases are starting to become a rarity, this will most certainly be worth picking up for those of us who haven’t made the jump to the current generation.

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