Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Anniversary Review For PS4

Posted October 13, 2016 by Josh Brant in Nerdy Bits

Developer: Crystal Dynamics

Publisher: Square Enix

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Windows PC

When Rise of the Tomb Raider initially released exclusively for the Xbox One and PC, there were concrete reasons behind the exclusive agreement which has so far linked Rise of the Tomb Raider to Microsoft platforms. Fortunately, PlayStation 4 owners have been able to pass the time, thanks to the extraordinary Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, but it’s clear, people wanted to get their hands on the new Lara Croft adventure simultaneously with the users of Xbox One and PC. A year later, it is time to celebrate the game’s debut on Sony’s console with an edition made for the twentieth anniversary of the iconic character, loaded with a plethora of content and the same great gameplay from a year ago.

A Grand Return

If you have had no chance to play the previous version, let us explain exactly what Rise of the Tomb Raider is. While the reboot focused on the awakening of Lara as a survivor, this time you embark on the journey of maturity for Lara, who has to overcome the ghosts of her past. Her father was the only one who believed in the existence of the Divine Source, an object capable of giving eternal life to whoever found it. Now, Lara wants to prove that her father did not die in vain while performing this task.

The first thing to make clear is we are, for the most part, playing the same game from last year. This means the gameplay, story, puzzles, collectibles, extra modes and characters have remained intact, but to compensate for the delay, this edition comes with much more content which makes it the definitive version currently available. Thus, you will find all existing downloadable content from the other versions, which is the equivalent of an addition twelve suits, seven weapons, an exclusive adventure: “Blood Ties” a mansion exploration simulation, Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch single player content, and the co-op Endurance Mode.

The most interesting of the three is definitely the aforementioned single player content, as it is an additional adventure of two hours integrated into the main campaign. There is new lore and adds historical context with exclusive areas, as well as a number of surprises and unique moments which are well worth experiencing, including its fantastic final battle.

The Stakes Are High

Exactly like the original version, this title does not have a predetermined progression route, but rather uses a rich sandbox to increase the number of things to see and do. Each scenario presents many collectables to scrounge for, as well as maps, testimonies, and findings from the Greek and Russian languages which lead to Lara becoming sharp in her knowledge of these languages to translate inscriptions on certain monoliths and highlight an even greater number of points to find on the map. There are optional side missions, which revolve around the destruction of electronic devices or the discovery of prisoners which are a nice diversion, however, it is exploring the numerous tombs which is the most satisfying. Once you have found the entrance to a tomb, you will have to explore the exceptionally exquisite and labyrinthine tunnels and networks which encompass a tomb. Most involve clever environmental puzzle solving to gain access to manuscripts and other treasures to further unlock new skills.

It’s quite obvious by now, there is much to do in Rise of the Tomb Raider and this all would certainly be much harder without the beloved returning survival instinct skill. At any time, you can press in the Right Stick to turn the screen gray and light up golden useful objects, such as hidden treasure or buried manuscripts. In addition, a radiating light column comes down from the sky and points you to your main goal. This feature is useful for combing the landscape, but it may be too helpful. Some might consider this spoiling the adventure and discovery of the base gameplay, however it is completely optional to use. This survival instinct skill also gives you a barometer in how suspicious the patrolling enemies are. If the enemy glows red, it means they are engaging, therefore, if not killed in a timely manner, will alert of guards to the vicinity.

The base gameplay is well streamlined and fun to get into. You may get to take a bow, a pistol, a shotgun and a rifle. Each type of weapon can then be modified in the camps if you scavenged the necessary materials, in order to improve stats such as magazine clip size, tension, damage, and reload rate. In addition, many weapons have different effects. The best example is the rifle, since it can be used as either an assault weapon or a mid-range sniper. All weapons have alternate fire and shooting modes, but the bow takes it to the next level being able to equip poison arrows, incendiary, or explosives. The ammo can luckily be made on the fly, even in combat, if the necessary agreements are found. There are other uses for crafting, which involve creating specialty weapons (Molotov cocktails and explosive cans) or even healing wounds.

Tomb Raiding For The Last Time?

Stealth in Rise of the Tomb Raider is handled brilliantly and rarely felt unfair, which was a big problem in Uncharted 4. While you can go all Terminator in this installment, Rise of the Tomb Raider invites the use of stealth first and foremost. You can hide in the bushes to attack from behind, throw people off cliffs, or in near a body of water can drown an unsuspecting soul. The game also uses something similar to “Fatalities” from Mortal Kombat, because there are some truly unnerving death scenes. Anyone thinking Lara is still innocent better think again.

Rise of the Tomb Raider graphically is very similar to the build on Xbox One, with the same detailed modeling, environmental effects which leave your mouth wide open, and well thought out scenarios, plus dynamic lighting. The image may seem a little more crisp and clean, but the biggest improvement is probably in the performance, running at a constant 30 FPS and much more stable from some of the complaints leveled at the Xbox One. Sound and music is still absolutely breathtaking with a great soundtrack which dynamically adapts to everything on the screen.

You can see great care was put into the production of this title with many hours of satisfying gameplay and remains at breakneck speeds throughout to suck the player in. One minute is filled jumps and frantic action, but without neglecting the exploration and puzzle strategies which have characterize Tomb Raider. Not much may have changed from the base game, but there is no doubt Lara and her escapades are always entertaining.

Final Verdict

Surely many are wondering if Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Anniversary can now compete with Uncharted 4 as both are now on Sony’s console, but the answer really is not simple. Rise of the Tomb Raider ends up being a poor man’s Uncharted 4, but is still better than 95% of games released this year. It is a step up technically and, ultimately, seems like a more emotional and thematically mature title. Uncharted 4 may be the king of the PS4, but Rise of the Tomb Raider will no doubt follow very closely behind and not disappoint. This game will remind you why Lara was possibly your first love.

About the Author

Josh Brant

I love God, my family, friends, sports, and the greatest hobby of all: video games! You can reach me on twitter @minusthebrant.