In 2013, Crystal Dynamics rebooted the Tomb Raider franchise with a compelling adventure, which for the first time humanized Lara Croft, allowing us to connect with her character on a deeper level than ever before. Last year Crystal Dynamics released Rise of the Tomb Raider on the Xbox One where Lara raced against an organization known as Trinity, who was intent on killing her, all the while trying to discover the secret of immortality.
Now this great game is available on the PlayStation 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration. It’s the most comprehensive version of the game, and comes with a ton of extra content such as a new story chapter, a zombie combat mode, PlayStation VR support, and so much more.
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Modes: Single-player, Co-Op Endurance Mode
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
An ancient mystery filled hidden secrets and treacherous terrains
Following the events of Tomb Raider, Lara is convinced that her late father’s theories on the supernatural and immortality were correct. Having seen supernatural elements that could transcend time, Lara becomes determined to clear her father’s name, who was ridiculed by the media and dismissed by the scientific community, for once and all.
Lara sets out on a journey to some of the most distant and dangerous regions of the world to prove her father’s theories by finding the lost city of Kitezh, and the secret of immortality—the Divine Source. However, Lara is not alone as a merciless organization known as Trinity is also looking for the Divine Source, and will do anything to get their hands on it. Through cutscenes, and logs left behind by Mongolian adventurers, Greek philosophers, Soviet workers, and Trinity themselves—you will be treated to a juicy story that is suspenseful and full of plot twists.
While in Tomb Raider Lara was a strong person, she often didn’t know how to deal with extreme situations and struggled to survive. In Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, Lara comes into the spotlight, as she stands tall on her own two feet. No matter if, it’s a Grizzly Bear, a pack of Wolves, or an environment that is crumbling around her, Lara keeps calm and cool with a straight head.
Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration has a solid supporting cast that helps tell Lara’s story. Most notable are Jacob the spiritual leader and healer of the Remnant, and his daughter Sofia the military commander. You’ll become wrapped up in these characters stories as the game advances and as they interact with Lara. On the flip side, Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration features a brutal antagonist known as Konstantin. As the story progressed, I found that I had developed a love-hate relationship with Konstantin; he is so dastardly but yet charming and smart at the same time.
A stealthier Lara
One of, if not the, most welcomed changes to Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration is the emphasis that is now placed on stealth. Sure, Tomb Raider contained some stealth elements, but for the most part the fight came to Lara. This time around, Crystal Dynamics has given us a whole slew of different options of how to handle enemies.
You now have the ability to take out your opponent sight unseen through a variety of different ways. Lara can hide in the bushes and pull down unsuspecting foes by choking them from behind, or she can topple them from above with a precisely timed attack. Alternatively, Lara can emerge from the water and quickly pull an unsuspecting guard under without making a noise.
If hard-hitting and high-flying action is what you fancy, you can send Lara in with guns blazing, and bodies flying. In contrast, if resorting to violence is not your cup of tea, you can simply distract your foes by throwing cans and bottles to slip right on past them.
Redesigned and revamped upgrade and crafting system
The superbly designed upgrade system from Tomb Raider makes its return to Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration; it now contains many unique and new useful abilities. For example, the double shot, one of my favourite new abilities, allows you to line up two targets with one pull of your bow and arrow—making it easy to take out multiple enemies at a time. As a result of the many new abilities, I found myself experimenting between the three different play styles: brawler, hunter, and survivor. Each of these play styles offers a different experience and a dynamic combat environment.
You’ll find activities like hunting animals, and gathering items now serve an important role in helping Lara along in her journey. Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration has an enhanced day-night cycle that means you’ll have to carefully plan when and where you’re going to hunt down certain animals to acquire necessary crafting components. I’ll let you in on a little secret, try to collect at least 10 deerskin around your first base camp before heading out. Crafting a satchel and rucksack will help carry a large inventory that will make it possible to heal, craft arrows, or reload in the middle of combat.
One of my favourite enhancements to the crafting system is the ability to craft certain items on the go. Track down bottles and you can craft Molotov cocktails to throw at your enemies in a sticky situation, or collection poison mushrooms and craft poison arrows that will take down almost any enemy you encounter. You would not believe how many times crafting on the go got me out of what seemed like a no-win situation. Thank you Crystal Dynamics!
One of the most visually stunning games ever
Rise of the Tomb Raider on the Xbox One set the visual benchmark for all open-world exploration games. Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration retains all of the visual appeal of the Xbox One version and ups the ante. From underwater ruins to snowy mountaintops, the diverse environments and landscapes will leave you in awe at how beautifully detailed they are. The new motion capture technology truly brings Lara to life like never before. This game looks absolutely fabulous in motion!
The PlayStation 4 does a fantastic job with Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration’s visuals. Running at 1080p with a near constant 30 frames per second, the game looks absolutely fantastic. With an update that was just recently released, Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration has support for the PlayStation 4 Pro. Improvements to 4K image quality and frame rate are some of the improvements that Crystal Dynamics has added to the PlayStation 4 Pro. Ooh la la!
New 20 Year Celebration Content
Aside from all the previously released DLC—Single-player Endurance Mode, Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch, and Cold Darkness Awakened—Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration contains brand new content that takes an already great experience and makes it even better.
Blood Ties is a new single player story, which gives us a history of the Croft family as Lara works her way through Croft Manor. This hour-long new no combat story helps flesh out the story and can be played in both third person and experienced in first person with the PlayStation VR. To be honest, I would have preferred this to be the opening of the game and I highly recommend playing through Blood Ties before playing the main journey. The PlayStation VR experience is mind blowing—Lara’s movement is ultra-smooth and gives you an incredibly awesome feel of what it is like to walk around Croft Manor.
Lara’s Nightmare mode is an alternate reality version of the Blood Ties story. Lara’s worst nightmares come alive in this zombie mode that takes place in Croft Manor. Your goal is to find and destroy three floating skulls that are scattered throughout the Manor as you embark on this zombie-killing fest. I really enjoyed this mode and the satisfaction of taking down a horde of zombies was completely satisfying.
The new Endurance Co-op mode is a first for the Tomb Raider franchise where two players team up to survive the harsh elements. In this survival mode, you must fend off hunger and cold while searching crypts for artifacts in the Siberian wilderness. Every resource must be collected, hunted, or crafted and the battle to beat your longest survival run is addicting.
Additionally, there are five classic Lara Croft skins as well as a reimagined outfit that pays tribute to Lara’s trip to Antarctica in Tomb Raider III. Yes, there is even more! Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration includes an Extreme Survivor difficulty mode that will severely limit your save points, crafting materials, resources, ammunition, and health in the main game. I’ll say this, only the most resourceful and capable will survive the Extreme Survivor mode.
Crystal Dynamics has done the unthinkable; they have taken an already amazing experience and made it even better with Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration. It features dazzling environments, exquisite graphics, enchanting characters, and a near perfect story mode that will keep you entertained for many hours, and a ton of extra content that is worthy of playing. All of these elements come together into one package that makes Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration one of the best games I have played this year.
+ Smoother action and rock-solid frame rates
+ Well written and captivating story
+ An amazing amount of content
– Resource gathering came become a little tedious
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5
Overall Rating 4.5/5 (90%)