I’ll preface this by stating that I haven’t touched a Tomb Raider title since Tomb Raider III, and that belonged to the kids I was babysitting. They didn’t have a save game, because they thought it would delete their Crash Bandicoot save game, so played it from the start every time. That’s right, I’m playing the sequel to the reboot without having played the reboot. Lara Croft is just one character I’ve never hit it off with, thanks to her not being able to hold onto ledges when I wanted her to, which was quite often.
Originally released almost one year ago on the Xbox One, with a Windows release a few months later, Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration touts itself as much more than the original release. We scored the PC release as 7.5/10, and wouldn’t re-review a game unless it was on a new platform, or was supposed to have more content and be much better -- this so happens to be all three, as this is the first time Rise has arrived on PlayStation 4. It also helps give another perspective to the game, as I have much less experience with the franchise than the previous writer.
Rise of the Tomb Raider continues Lara Croft’s adventures, set one year on from 2013’s Tomb Raider. She sets off to do some actual tomb raiding (which I believe she didn’t do much of in the last game), and decides the best place to do so is by climbing a Siberian mountain. Hijinks ensue involving shooting, sneaking, hunting, crafting, fast travelling and more. But I’ll get into that in a minute.
20 Year Celebration brings some new things to the game, as well as having all the fixes and DLC bundled with it in the same way a Game of the Year edition would. The DLC includes Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch, Cold Darkness Awakened, Endurance Mode and nine costume packs. Amongst the new things are; a two player co-op version of Endurance Mode, a new hour-long story mission which takes place in Croft Manor, and a zombie mode which also takes place there.
The story mission, called Blood Ties, can be played using PlayStation VR, but I couldn’t test that aspect as I don’t have the VR headset. The story itself is quite interesting, as you explore the run-down mansion, and the Croft family history through letters and recordings somewhat akin to the indie hit Gone Home.
I also couldn’t try out the co-op Endurance Mode, as nobody I knew had it meaning I literally had nobody to play with. From the literature I was provided, you play as Lara and your partner plays as Nadia (a character from the Baba Yaga DLC), and much like normal Endurance Mode you have to gather resources to survive in the Siberian wilderness. Wood for shelter and fire, animals for food… And you have to survive the nights against both humans and animals.
Despite hating horror in games, I did give Lara’s Nightmare (zombie mode) a try. Taking place in Croft Manor, you have to collect items hidden around the manor to cast them out -- as well as using violence. The items are randomly placed, giving it some replay value, as well as quite a challenge. You quickly get overrun by the undead, so if you decide to replay it through the Expedition menu then your challenges can quickly be lost…
Expeditions are the challenge modes, including Endurance Mode, Score Attack and Chapter Replay, which are exactly what they sound like. Replay levels, or get the highest score by completing a level quickly and completing certain challenges. You can unlock Expedition cards which offer perks to make the expeditions harder or easier -- or just activate Big Head Mode. You can buy them with credits (earned through Expeditions) or with real money.
Now, onto the main game itself. As previously mentioned, you start off in Siberia, but you don’t stay there for the whole game. Lara loses consciousness -- like, a lot -- and so you get to play through flashbacks to fill in the blanks between the last title and Rise, because you have to get her in a tank top somehow. As you can tell from pretty much any of the released artwork, you soon wind up with a bow and some arrows to join your arsenal of two climbing axes -- this is a good time to note the fact that Lara didn’t carry any of her own gear up the blasted mountain for some reason. Yet, thanks to DLC, has a wide variety of outfits to change into at campsites.
Whilst at campsites -- which act as places to activate the autosave (there is no manual save) -- you can change your equipment. Your ice axes, bow, handgun, rifle and shotgun can all be upgraded by finding parts and animal skins, though some special weapons require you to find certain crates, which contain a part of it.
At a certain point in the game, you reach an old Soviet mining facility. You have to team up with the Remnants, the local people keeping evildoers away from their ancient artifacts. However, you would think that a Siberian people living close to a Soviet facility with no access to satellite television might sound… you know… Russian? Instead, everyone speaks with an American accent.
This, coupled with the alarming amount of times which Lara loses consciousness, served to really impact my immersion. It didn’t help that Lara also continually failed to grab hold of ledges, which I already stated had soured me towards her in the past. The writing also shies away from talking about the previous game, only going as far as Lara saying that she “saw something impossible”, which is why she’s gone on this quest.
Despite those downers, the game is pretty solid. The Expeditions give it a lot of replayability with leaderboards and the challenge cards giving even more reason to return for those who like getting a high score. You will also have trouble getting 100% complete, given the amount of nooks and crannies that you need to explore and ‘metroidvania’ your way back to through the course of the game for relics.
The voice work and soundtrack are great, the graphics are fantastic (if you ignore the odd glitch here or there) and the story keeps your interest, despite being quite formulaic.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
The formulaic plot, and some immersion-breaking moments don’t take away too much from this being quite a fun adventure, with a ton to do and return to. Plus you can unlock pointy-boobs Lara from Tomb Raider.