It’s been a long year for us Tomb Raider PS4 fans… We had to wait a whole year for Rise after it became available on Microsoft platforms last year! Of course, for this reason, I shouldn’t need to warn you that this post contains some spoilers if you haven’t played the game, but chances are likely that you may know of a few anyway given that the story has been around for 12 months!
So, what makes Rise Of The Tomb Raider 20th Anniversary Edition on PS4 so special?
As it turns out; quite a few reasons, actually!
I’ll start with the actual case of the game. Asides from the slip cover art of star heroine Lara Croft looking badass, it also houses a beautiful mini themed art book packed full of Tomb Raider concept and character artwork from throughout the years. One of my favourites is the many generations of Lara chilling in a bar together.
Onto the gameplay… There’s a few different difficulty modes to choose from, including an extreme survivor mode for a hardcore challenge, where enemies have heightened awareness, more difficult to kill, and there’s more of them. There’s also fewer supplies and you can only save at base camps. I would be willing to give this difficulty a try someday like I did with the original 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, but as this was my first time playing Rise, I went with the intermediate option so I could focus on enjoying the story. For those that enjoy online gaming, there are a number of expedition missions which you can play solo or co-op… I must say, Lara’s Nightmare is a favourite of mine, being particularly terrifying!I’m always blown away by how gorgeous the HD graphics are on PS4. They capture so much realism, almost as if you could reach out and touch the surroundings. Lara herself is looking better than ever – her face is capable of showing a wide range of emotions and passion, and physically she interacts with her surrounding environment with realistic movements and actions; even shivering with the freezing temperature, almost loosing balance walking along thin planks, and scraping her foot along ledges while hanging to keep her position.
Rise has improved mechanisms from the original reboot – most of the controls are the same, but I found healing, survival instincts and using weapons to be a slight improvement with simpler execution. Lara can also learn/improve her language knowledge by finding the many artefacts and murals throughout the game. There’s a tonne of unlock-able skills as well as mighty upgradable weapons, equipment, and outfits, some of which were already unlocked for me by purchasing the 20th Anniversary Edition.
I didn’t realise until I completed the main story that I had been gifted 20th Anniversary “skins” – this meant I can now revert Lara back to her original block textured, big-boobed, tiny shorts Tomb Raider II days! Also included are Lara’s outfits and “skins” from Angel Of Darkness, Chronicles, the original Croft Manor level, and a reimagined version of Lara’s Antartica outfit from Tomb Raider III. Safe to say, with all the available outfit choices and being a self-obsessed fashion addict, this kept me entertained for longer than it should have!Also returning from the reboot are optional challenge tombs where you can unlock awesome upgrades for Lara upon completion. However, something new is optional challenge missions from ally characters – one of my favourites is the exclusive Baba Yaga mission where you must help a young woman find her grandfather who has set off to kill the Baba Yaga witch and free his long-lost wife. Along the way, Lara becomes infused with hallucinating pollen and starts having terrifying visions while trying to find the infamous creature of myth! As a fan of horror and fairytale folklore, this was a great exciting addition.
And finally, the main plot… I really enjoyed it. Lara is more mature and already has the experience of her first adventure behind her. She plans to finish the quest her father began – to find a precious artefact that can create eternal life. Lara’s mission brings her to Syria and bumping heads with an evil organisation named Trinity – it is hinted that this organisation will possibly appear in future instalments too. Lara also realises her family ally, Ana, is working for them too alongside her brother Constantine, and the journey becomes a deadly race against time. Along the way, Lara meets Jacob, who is a kind-hearted leader of a settlement who wish to protect their land from greedy invaders, and helps guide Lara at certain points in the story.You’ll also be happy to know that the 20th Anniversary Edition comes with the Croft Manor: Blood Ties DLC! Let’s be honest; exploring Croft Manor has always been one of the best ways to waste time on a Tomb Raider game. The last two TR games I’ve played, Underworld and the reboot, didn’t include Croft Manor which I’ll admit did disappoint me a little, so seeing it making a triumphant return in this game is wonderful. Lara is searching the depilated ruins of her childhood home to find evidence of her claim to keeping the manor in her possession. There’s lots of nostalgic moments to be had wandering the halls, as you can discover Lara’s origins and fun references to previous games, including Lara mentioning she “never liked wearing dresses, but likes the colour (teal)” in an old photo of herself, and the Croft’s beloved butler Winston recalling how Lara, “the little angel”, had managed to lock him in the freezer… Yes, we all remember that. The guilt! The most exciting news comes with the fact that Blood Ties is completely VR compatible… If only I owned a VR!
Just a fun little side-note… As an avid LOST fan, I noticed a couple of coincidental references… An immortal leader named Jacob, and his daughter Sofia’s “survive together, die alone” quote ring any bells? Good old Square Enix with the Easter Eggs. I’m sure there’s many more too, but I’ll have to pay better attention on my next playthrough! Also, not LOST related, but one of the findable artefacts is literally an ancient version of Tetris; Lara remarks that it looks familiar…
Whether you’ve been a Lara fan since the very beginning or new to the series, make sure you check out Rise Of The Tomb Raider soon! Happy tomb raiding!