Available On: PlayStation 4
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action Adventure
Official Site: Rise of The Tomb Raider
Release Date: 10-11-16
Where To Buy: PlayStation Store, Local Retailer
After nearly a year of timed exclusivity on the Xbox One, Rise of the Tomb Raider has finally arrived on the PlayStation 4 in a “20 Year Celebration” package. Since 2015, DLC and additional content have been added to the game, which admittedly had me concerned that the PS4 version would not be worth it. The core aspects of Tomb Raider and Lara’s character, however, are just as (if not more defined) than they were a year ago. Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20-year Celebration came equipped with new content for fans to enjoy, including the game’s previously released DLC, a new cooperative mode called “Endurance”, and compatibility with the PlayStation VR for the new expansion, “Blood Ties”.
Last November, The Nerd Stash’s Adam Dyche reviewed Rise of the Tomb Raider for the Xbox One. Adam gave it five stars, commenting on the variety of puzzles in the tombs, the beauty of the multiple environments, and how Lara is “a force to be reckoned with”. All of those qualities lend themselves wonderfully to “Blood Ties”.
Much of the lore of the Tomb Raider franchise is brought out in even more detail in this story. In “Blood Ties”, Lara’s claim to the Croft Manor is being challenged by her maternal uncle, Atlas DeMornay, who thinks Lara is too unstable and irresponsible to take control of the estate, especially following the events of the 2013 reboot in Yamatai. However, Lara does not believe that her father would leave her without a proper will, so she takes to exploring the Manor in order to find proof that it legally belongs to her.
“Blood Ties” is a staple for any fan of the games, and it is an expansion that is wrought with emotion and great insight into Lara’s past, way before the main events of Tomb Raider. There is strong environmental storytelling at play as Lara explores the dilapidated Croft Manor- a puzzle within itself- and as the most intimate details and secrets of her childhood slowly come to light. We learn all about Lara’s father, Richard, and her mother, Amelia, through journal entries and audio recordings.
As you progress through the Manor, these entries become more personal and, in some instances, heartbreaking. Simply walking into certain spaces trigger memories, and you hear voiceovers of young Lara talking to her father. There are even notes to be uncovered from the Crofts’ memorable butler, Winston. That, however, does not erase the creepy memories of gamers locking Winston in the freezer back in ’97, only for him to still find Lara with that clambering tray of tea.
In “Blood Ties” the gameplay is reminiscent of the Fulbright Company’s game, Gone Home, in that it is a character-driven narrative that has been entirely stripped of any sort of combat. Although there is no imminent threat in the Croft Manor that does not dim the sentiments of unease that are present throughout. The sound only adds to this experience, as there is a steady pattering of rain outside and an occasional strike of thunder. “Blood Ties” offers a great juxtaposition between the Lara that we know now and the small details that made her that way. It shines a light on her character in a way that we did not see during the main campaign of Rise of the Tomb Raider.
The 20 Year Celebration also comes with the “Extreme Survivor” difficulty, as well as a new, online cooperative play for Endurance mode. Together, fans are able to raid tombs in brutal environments, as well as try to survive the harsh weather conditions of these places. Endurance mode is fast-paced in a way that forces you to think on your feet and gather and craft resources for survival. I only wish the usefulness of these items in Endurance mode were as fluidly integrated into the regular story campaign, and not simply used for the purpose of Lara gaining small experience points here and there.
The 20 Year Celebration also lets the player put their zombie-killing skills to the test in a mode called “Lara’s Nightmare”. In this one, the halls of the Croft Manor are eerie, slightly smoky around the edges, and have been overrun by a horde of zombies. While this mode was relatively fun the first few times, it is not something that I will be running back to with great excitement. The additional DLC in the game is heavily dependent on the Expedition Cards, many of which come from playing and completing the main game. These Cards are extremely helpful during multiplayer gameplay and can make the experience much easier.
If you have already played Rise of the Tomb Raider and simply want to experience the 20 Year Celebration for its additional content, new outfits for Lara, and new modes of difficulties, this may not prove to be that worthwhile. However, if you have yet to play Lara’s latest adventure, Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration is definitely worth it and is a worthy package for this video game icon. The gameplay experience and the story itself is solid, and we learn more about Lara than we could have imagined.
- Gameplay: Solid controls throughout; even the lack of combat in “Blood Ties” was handled well and took nothing away from the Tomb Raider experience.
- Graphics: Sharp graphics bring each environment to life.
- Sound: Music and sound effects set the tone perfectly throughout the game.
- Presentation: Weapons customization and in-game menu can first appear daunting, but quickly becomes second nature.
- "Blood Ties"
- Game's main events feel even stronger because of Lara's backstory.
- Environmental storytelling and great sound.
- May not be as worthwhile for those who played it on Xbox One.
Tori is a writer and gamer originally from Vault 111, but now she resides in Chicago. She has an MFA in creative writing-fiction, runs primarily on coffee, and is an expert on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Follow her on Twitter @torithatnerd.