Rise of the Tomb Raider launched to great fanfare on the Xbox One last year and eventually on PC. PlayStation 4 owners have had to wait a year to experience Lara Croft’s latest adventure and the wait has been worth it for the most part. Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration releases in the 20th anniversary year of Tomb Raider and also serves as a complete or Game of the Year edition to the game that hit the PC and Xbox One. It comes packed with all the DLC and a few extras along with some PS4-exclusive modes as well making the package offer greater value. Nixxes has handled this port and they have done a superb job with it.
Rise of the Tomb Raider takes place after the events of 2013’s Tomb Raider and has Lara revisiting her late father’s research. This leads her to various locations that are all pretty damn great looking. The first location she ends up in is Syria en route to uncover a prophet’s tomb. The plot is basically a means to an end for the game and absolutely forgettable. While I did enjoy the voice acting and the gameplay, I wish the amount of attention that went into the visuals, audio design, and gameplay was put into a memorable story. Even the narrative-driven DLC felt disjointed at best.
Gameplay is similar to Uncharted just like the previous entry but Rise of the Tomb Raider feels more like Uncharted meets Far Cry Primal overall. The crafting and RPG-styled upgrade system through exploration is great. Pressing R3 enables Survivor Mode for if you feel lost and there’s even an Adventurer mode if you just want to experience the campaign with minimal difficulty. Barring the disappointment I felt in the story, the action is continuous. There are some great set pieces though and I didn’t get bored of the gameplay at all.
The new modes in the 20 Year Celebration edition (and free to owners of the Season pass on Xbox One and PC) are Blood Ties and the new co-op Endurance Mode. Blood Ties is a Gone Home-esque short adventure in Croft Manor. I really enjoyed exploring Croft Manor but the real draw here is for PlayStation VR owners because they can experience it in VR. Blood Ties also includes a zombie mode where Croft Manor is haunted but this got old fairly quickly. The Endurance Mode gets a new co-op mode. I had a blast playing this with a friend in the UK while gathering resources and fighting for survival. Performance was great and the only glitches were thanks to connection problems. I see myself playing through its procedurally generated world multiple times because disposing of bandits and running into caves filled with traps to discover artifacts never gets old.
Visually Rise of the Tomb Raider is stunning. The input lag experienced to some extent on Xbox One is mostly absent here and performance is great. The only real visual problems I faced were with teleportation and disappearing due to connection issues in co-op Endurance Mode. You will be using the Share button frequently from the get go in Rise of the Tomb Raider. While Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition had an unlocked frame rate option on PlayStation 4 to go well above 30fps, Rise only supports higher resolutions on the PS4 Pro. Obviously I haven’t been able to test 4K or the 60fps mode yet and this questions the relatively high price for the package for a year old game re-release. In comparison, you can get three full games and all their DLC for nearly 30% less than the price of Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration in the form of Bioshock: The Collection. While there is an exclusive PlayStation VR mode and all the DLC, the asking price is higher than it should be.
On the audio and music side of things, I have almost no complaints. Voice acting is very good and the soundtrack complements the gameplay well. There is a slight lip sync issue that plagued the release initially and it is disappointing to see it not addressed in the re-release. Nixxes even went the extra mile and made use of the Lightbar on the PlayStation 4 controller and the speaker on it for certain sound effects. Going back to the audio design, they nailed the tense atmospheric feeling when you combine the sounds of wolves and the likes with the weather effects.
Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration does a lot well but is still flawed overall. Nixxes deserves to be commended for the quality of the port. It looks and runs great. There’s a lot of content and the Endurance Mode is a lot of fun in co-op. If it had a better story and lower asking price, this would be an essential purchase for anyone with a PlayStation 4. As it stands though, if you’ve already experienced the game on other platforms or simply want it to add to your collection, you’re better off waiting for a price drop.