With The Rise of the Tomb Raider 20 Year Celebration, our girl Lara finally comes home to the PlayStation (where many would argue she has always belonged).
Naturally, this repackaged birthday bash comes with a few surprises, and from what I’ve played of the new (and tweaked) features, there seems to be more than enough to guarantee that this will be the definitive celebration for Tomb Raider fans everywhere.
Co-Op Endurance Is Great fun
The new survival themed Co Op mode is probably the most entertaining of the new sections. If you’ve played Endurance solo on Xbox One, you’ll have an idea of what to expect.
Of course this time, it’s two players that are thrown into a procedurally generated patch of wilderness. Obviously, you must work together to survive.
This involves hunting deer, wolves, rabbits, and bears (if you’re feeling brave) for food, and gathering resources to craft fire and ammo to stave off the harsher elements.
Obviously, this bonus mode is nowhere near as involved as a ‘proper’ survival game like Day Z or ARK, but that’s very much to it’s credit – being able to jump in and fuck around with a mate looks like it’s gonna be great fun, and it’s by far the most user friendly survival experience I’ve ever had (is that an oxymoron?).
The ability to automatically share all resources is a smart one that saves time that would otherwise have been wasted fucking around in inventories, and allows players to simply enjoy playing the game.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Tomb Raider without a spot of… erm.. tomb raiding, and you can expect to hunt out artefacts and delve into hidden areas with your survival buddy.
Searching through these areas for rare items while avoiding traps (which I managed poorly) is a cool change of pace from simply worrying about your basic needs, and there are some great moments to be had discovering new treasures and laughing heartily as your mate wonders into a cave too quickly and falls to a spiky death.
Of the three modes I played, this was by far the most entertaining of the bunch – I can’t wait to jump back in with a friend as soon as possible.
Blood Ties Is A Virtual Treat
Longtime fans of the Tomb Raider franchise will find a lot to love when it comes to the new Blood Ties mission – less of a demanding level, and more of an interactive museum dedicated to 20 years of gaming’s best loved treasure hunter (sorry, Nathan Drake).
The story here involves Lara hunting around the famous Croft manor for proof that she owns the home, to avoid eviction from her evil uncle.
The woes of property management might not be the first thing that come to your mind when you think of Lara’s high-adrenaline adventures, but there’s plenty of fun to be had as you explore the mansion, delving into Lara’s past and discovering Easter eggs (none of which I’ll be spoiling for you here).
There are still plenty of puzzles to solve, but having the action take a back seat in order for complete immersion in Lara’s world and history is great.
My only real concern here is that this section might be a bit of a snooze for people who don’t care too much about the franchise – but then, this is the 20 Year Celebration, so it’s clearly best to cater to the hardcore fans first and foremost.
I should also point out that the Blood Ties mission works with PlayStation VR, which was an absolute pleasure to play through.
Whacking on the headset to explore the home of one of gaming’s greatest icons is just another reason that we should all be super excited for what virtual reality reality can bring to the table.
And Of Course, The Zombies…
I can’t be certain, but I think if you don’t release a game with some kind of ‘zombie’ mode these days, you lose the right to develop titles.
Ah well, Lara’s Nightmare (AKA, the zombie mode) might be the least original of the new features on display, but it’s still plenty of fun.
If you like running around blasting undead monsters in the face and raiding tombs, then this pretty much makes Rise of the Tomb Raider the ultimate package.
To be fair, there is actually a genuine touch of survival horror in Lara’s Nightmare, too. To beat this mode, you need to find and destroy three skulls hidden throughout Croft Manor, and it’s pretty important to stay on the move and conserve ammo.
Backtrack, linger too long, or waste bullets, and those zombies will be on you quicker than the Sony fanboys when it was announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider would be Xbox exclusive.
All in all, we’ll have to wait for the final package to see just how worthy this 20th anniversary release is of the Tomb Raider name.
From what I’ve played seen so far though, there seems to be more than enough new content to make this an essential buy for PS4 owners – and Xbox One users shouldn’t forget that all this goodness will be coming to them as DLC, too.