October 11, 2016
A year on from its original release on Xbox One, Rise of the Tomb Raider wowed us back then and continues to wow us now on the PS4. This special 20 year Celebration Edition comes jam packed with all additional DLC that has been released in the past year, along with some new game modes, skins and even a VR add-on to boot. It’s the best version of one of the best games I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing.
In my original review of Rise of the Tomb Raider, I said:
“My time with Rise of the Tomb Raider has – so far – been incredibly memorable. From the thrill of discovering and then solving the variety of stunning challenge tombs to the explosive and exciting set pieces that had me sprinting across shaky platforms, dangling from ledges and narrowly escaping death at every turn, I found every single part of the experience completely captivating and breathtaking. Lara Croft has grown as a character and the franchise has evolved and grown along with her; so much so that it has now turned into one of the best action adventure games I’ve ever played.”
Everything I said in my original review stands true; in a year that I was so impressed by Uncharted 4, I found myself equally enjoying my second play-through of what is Lara’s best adventure to date. Set pieces are weaved seamlessly into the gameplay, navigating challenge tombs is still fun and engaging (even though I can remember some of the solutions) and with the addition of the Cold Darkness Awakened and Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch DLC expansions, there is a lot to like here about this collection. That’s before we even tackle any of the new content that’s included.
The new addition to the package, Blood Ties, adds even more depth to Lara, a character that is still evolving 20 years after her inception. The story mission has you exploring Croft Manor, a place she used to call home but is now dilapidated, boarded up and torn apart after years of neglect. The history of the Croft family is littered throughout the house, with letters and photographs of Lara’s mother and father, along with artefacts and memories of when she was a young child. While no enemies are of threat, the thoughtfulness of the narrative kept me searching for more clues and genuinely taking the time to listen to every piece of audio, as it gave me more insight into a girl that was always meant to become the strong woman we know and love today.
Lara’s Nightmare, an entirely combat based add-on, has you fighting to survive in Croft Manor as supernatural zombies floor the hallways. It’s a fun diversion and in complete contrast to the slow methodical nature of Blood Ties, but I found the constant waves of vicious enemies quite difficult to overcome, and after being killed during several attempts I lost interest. Combat was never my favourite part of Rise of the Tomb Raider and this didn’t change my mind, although I appreciate the concept.
The VR experience that’s included is also a nice touch, taking advantage of the recently released PS VR. It’s very cool to walk around Croft Manor and see the level of detail that really immerses you in the virtual reality space, but it did make me nauseated pretty quickly. Lara’s movements are so quick that it didn’t quite translate into a pleasant experience wearing the headset, but it is still a nice inclusion and cool for a few minutes. The endurance mode now including cooperative play is also a nice touch, being able to raid tombs and survive with a friend proving to be a great distraction.
The additional skins including the classic ones are also appreciated, especially given how comical the PS One Lara looks in serious cut-scenes with other characters. It made me laugh more than it probably should have, so I’d recommend only doing this if you’ve played through the game before, or it could ruin what is, at times, an emotional story.
- Still awesome to play
- All DLC included
- Blood Ties is a huge success
- Great value package
- Still lots of combat in main campaign
- Lara's Nightmare not as solid
Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration Edition is one of the most well put-together special editions I’ve played through, ever. The main game holds up incredibly well given its only a year old, but the additional DLC and new elements like Blood Ties create a package that is both valuable and engaging, even for those who finished the campaign on Xbox One previously. While some features are a novelty, it doesn’t detract from what is clearly one of the defining action games of this generation; if you haven’t played it yet, this absolutely needs to be added to your collection as soon as possible.