Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration – Review
PS4 (Content is available on PC and Xbox one via DLC)
Lara Croft has been one of my idols for as long as I can remember. As a kid, there was nothing I wanted more than go on adventures and explore the wilderness like Lara. However, as I grew up, my dreams of exploring the wilderness changed to become more about exploring the wine aisle in my local Bottle-O- but that didn’t stop me from thinking Lara was badass. So it’s understandable that when Rise of the Tomb Raider finally came out on PS4 I was absolutely stoked. For 20 years this woman has been kicking ass and taking names and not once has she disappointed me (except for that one time on the PS2 but everybody makes mistakes). The PS4 rendition of Rise of the Tomb Raider, however, was anything but a mistake, and only made me more excited for what is to come.
The sequel to the rebooted franchise follows our hero into the freezing depths of Siberia in search of the legendary city of Kitezh, in the hopes of finding the secret to immortality. As if battling wild animals, overcoming dilapidated ruins and surviving the cold weren’t enough adversities to face, Lara also comes up against a military force hell bent on reaching the city before her. So, ya know, it’s all fun and games in the Siberian wilderness.
However, the game has been out for a year. Most people who are fans of Lara have played through the game and know the story, know the characters and know what happens- so I don’t need to repeat those things. Instead, I’m going to look at what makes the 20 Year Celebration edition different from the ones people already have their hands on- and in a nutshell, that’s all the excellent DLC content.
The latest edition of the game comes with three DLC packs; Cold Darkness Awakened, Baba Yaga: The Temple Witch and Blood Ties.
Cold Darkness Awakened was probably one of the more frightening experiences I’ve had with a Tomb Raider game, due to the zombie-like state of the enemies you encounter. The story behind it is that the military force, Trinity, has created a pathogen that targets men and puts them into an aggravated zombie-like state, attacking their testosterone and adrenaline glands. Lara (and two of her buddies you meet throughout the game) aim to destroy the pathogen, but before they can, a member of Trinity escapes with a sample… perhaps spelling out the possibility for a sequel in the future?
Baba Yaga: The Temple Witch sees Lara help a young, injured girl look for her father, who she believes to be haunted by the witch Baba Yaga. Skeptical of the girl’s story at first (and why wouldn’t you be, kids are dumb) Lara ventures somewhat unwillingly forward in order to help save the girl’s father. Because this is a video game and not real life, the witch is obviously real and obviously dangerous, so cut to Lara having to kick her ass to save the world.
My favourite of the DLC content however, had to be Blood Ties. I have always enjoyed exploring the depths of Croft Manor, even in the early games, and this was no exception. There is no combat and no tombs to explore, but it’s an interesting look into Lara’s life outside of the tomb raiding and into her character. Tied to this DLC is also Lara’s Nightmare, which is very similar but involves Lara fighting off a horde of zombies in order to escape from the Manor. As someone who is terrified of zombies, this was a giant ‘NOPE’ from me, but it’s an interesting gameplay mode for those who like that kind of stuff.
Whether it was playing the DLC or the main game, I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout Rise of the Tomb Raider. The graphics are just stunning, the environments are so lush and immersive and Lara’s movement is so smooth that climbing up trees and traversing soviet bunkers seems almost effortless. Almost. Something this game has carried on from the reboot is the fact that Lara is human. Gone are the days where she can climb cliff faces for hours without getting tired, and no longer can she swan dive off a flight of stairs and survive on a smidgen of life. The new Lara Croft is no longer indestructible- and that serves to make her a lot more relatable. She worries, she stresses out, she gets cold and hungry and pissed off, and I love it.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is friggin fantastic, that’s all I have to say really. If you’re a Lara fan and you haven’t picked it up yet, definitely get on it- you will have zero regrets.