Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration Edition PS4 Review
One year after the events of Tomb Raider (2013), Lara has a desperately difficult time explaining her “supernatural” experience on Yamatai. Staying true to the Croft bloodline and family curiosity which has an intensity that can only be likened to a sort-of “Blood-Lust”, Lara turns to her late father’s research seeking answers. His research leads her down a road of deadly adventures while chasing the story of the Prophet of Constantinople, into the lost city of Kitezh and the supposed promise of Immortality.
I have been a Tomb Raider fan-boy since the first version hit PC and Play Station 1 Systems in 1996. Okay, that is my modesty level at its maximum, truth be told, I am a die-hard fan of the Franchise. When news broke of the PS4 version for Rise of the Tomb Raider, my excitement levels were uncontainable (I fan-girl’d like a baws), and to top it all off, the PS4 version beautifully mutated into the 20 Year Celebration Edition which launched on 11 October 2016!
Getting my hands on this title brought back very fond childhood memories. It took me back to the first Lara skin, and made me consider how we have watched Lara go through many transformations over the past 20 years (She has not aged badly at all right?). There have also been game-style changes and story shifts, but Rise of the Tomb Raider sees the return of most of the classic features like the iconic “shimmy” we learned in the Croft Manor Gym in Tomb Raider (1996) and the return of some very fond weapons too, like her pistol, shotgun and rifle.
The game environments are huge, densely textured, dynamic, interactive, breath-taking and use an Environment Weather System (EWS) that both human and animal characters respond and adapt their behavior to, including a day-night cycle. This links in very well with the game crafting system in Rise of the Tomb Raider, which allows you to create items or gear. Using the EWS, if you would like to optimize your craft, you need to plan it out carefully, like if you want to create a heavy winter coat, you need to hunt a wolf that only comes out during a specific time of day and in specific weather conditions. You can also use the EWS to approach combat situations in different ways, as foliage can be used to hide behind or used to approach “baddies” for stealth attacks. If you want to avoid combat completely, then rather head for the canopy or rooftops. The choice is yours allowing you to experience the game with your unique play-style.
Along with the crafting system you have a materials chart, which details what you can forage from your surroundings to use as materials. As you progress through the game and gain experience and complete challenges, your earn skill points which you can assign to a skill tree with three main focal “talents”, each with their own “sub-talents”. The main talents are Brawler, Hunter and Survivor. They respectively bolster your abilities in or with combat and recovery, scavenging and hunting and lastly crafting and exploration. You decide what you want to develop first, so basically no two Lara’s should ever be the same!
After earlier mentioning the game environment, I should probably tell you about the Official Map Companion App, developed by Prima Digital and is available on the Apple App Store or Android Play Store for R37,99. The App contains interactive maps for the whole game, allowing you to select a specific map and quickly locate all the collectibles in an area. The app is ideal for the individuals that suffer from a certain “Game-OCD” condition where they “gotta collect ’em all” (I am one of these guys too), but if you do not want to spoil the challenge in finding everything the traditional ‘ol fashioned way, I would recommend you only use the app after your first play-through.
As for the story, incredible graphics and splendid sound, it smashes together and plays out like something from the silver screen that you can manipulate, meshing the game-play into a captivating experience, which I found exceptionally difficult to peel myself away from. It was equally as hard to put the controller down and walk away after turning off the game. That is how I measure the worth of most games. If the feeling lingers or my thoughts travel back to “what will happen next”, then I know that I am hooked.
The game focuses on you trying to locate an Artifact that “unlocks” the key to eternal life, and is referred to as the “Divine Source”, however you are not the only one searching for it, as you are competing against an ancient group of “radicals” called Trinity, who want the Artifact just as badly as you do, and we all get warned that “what we seek” is not quite what we expect it to be…when it is ever huh?
Without giving too much away, you can watch the first 30 minutes of in-game footage below, which introduces you to the main “players” in the game and also really demonstrates most of what I have stated above. I can however say, (and I think it is very important that I do say this) that the story has many twists and often obvious reveals. If you emotionally attach yourself to the characters, like Ana, Jonah or Jacob for example, you will find yourself engaging quite deeply with everything what transpires, and it is well worth it.
Unique 20 Year Celebration Rewards
Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration awarded you with 10,000 in-game coins if you logged in and started playing within the first week of it’s release, along with 14 other epic in-game gift packs, containing 12 outfits including the 20 Year Celebration outfit and gun, 5 classic Lara skins and 35 expedition cards. The cards are used to alter gameplay effects, such as score multipliers. The base version of the game comes with additional DLC content, which are not in any specific way “related” to the main story, but do have small elements linking them together.
The first is the Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch DLC, which keeps you busy for quite a while as you discovery the mysteries behind Baba Yaga and ultimately reunite a family. Another notable DLC pack is the Cold Darkness Awakened DLC, which in a very rough description, is a sort-of “Zombie Mode” with a story, where you run around the Croft Manor shooting up different armored undead ghouls while searching for a master key that changes location each time you respawn. To beat the Nightmare you need to crush three skulls of rage to summon the Final Boss… I have not gotten that far yet (ashamed).
Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration also includes “Blood Ties”, which is a new Single Player “Mystery Mode” where you explore the Croft Manor looking for clues which will ultimately grant you ownership of the Manor by proving your legal rights to the “late” Estate. Also new, is a Co-Op option for Endurance Mode and unlocks the ‘Ultimate Survivor’ Difficulty Mode for the Main Campaign. With PSVR changing the way we game on our PlayStation 4 Systems, Rise of the Tomb Raider is PSVR Ready! A lot of fun on it’s own, but you can now play the “Blood Ties” story using the #PSVR headset, which I cannot wait to experience as soon as I become a proud owner of one, as “Blood Ties” kept me busy for quite a while as I gained insight into the Croft Family history.
Taking into account when Lara first became part of our lives, and where she “comes from”, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a brilliantly enjoyable title, thrilling and worth every minute of time spent playing it. As with most game titles that have a history as long as the Tomb Raider franchise has, developers often experiment as they go along with the next releases and “sometimes mistakes are made in forms of features that don’t quite work out or find favor with the fans, but with the release of Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, Lara is back baby, and in all her badass gun-slinging glory! The game retails on PSN (Digital) for R829,00 and you can grab a physical copy at BT Games for R705,00 if you order online (get it here). It really is safe to spend your money on this one, go get it while she’s hot…erm, I mean “it’s” hot!
CodeBros In-Game Footage
Here is the first 30 minutes of Rise of the Tomb Raider. Sit back, relax and enjoy!