Published on November 14th, 2016 | by Ian Goodwillie0
Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration
The sequel that PS4 players waited so long for is finally out with the Playstation version of Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration.
Video game reboots are almost as popular a reboots of movies. And TV shows. And comic books. Well, it’s pretty much any media content you can think of that’s getting rebooted in some fashion on an almost daily basis. Tomb Raider isn’t immune to this.
The venerable video game franchise had fallen on hard-ish times. Tomb Raider still had its fans but was struggling to stay relevant. Then in 2013, Square Enix released its reboot of the franchise. They took Lara Croft back to her first time out in the field, fighting back against the most insane circumstances. You play through her first kill to survive and watch as her mind is expanded by encountering a world bigger and weirder than she ever could have imagined. The campiness that dated the original franchise was left behind.
It was, and is, an amazing game.
But the only thing content producers love more than a good reboot is a sequel to that reboot that is as good as that original reboot. It won’t be but they love to think it might be. So in November 2015, Rise of the Tomb Raider hit shelves. For some. It was only released on Xbox One and Xbox 360 as a semi exclusive release. A PC version followed in January 2016 and the PS4 finally appeared in October 2016.
This meant that anyone who games exclusively, or at least primarily, on PS4 ended up waiting an extra year to get their hands on the game. Fortunately, it was worth the wait.
Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, which is the PS4 edition title, sends Lara out on a new mission. After witnessing the horrors of the first game and the having the mystical realities of the world laid bare before her, Lara has found herself in a much different headspace. She is pursuing the project that broke her father and drove him to suicide. When he was alive, she didn’t believe his wild stories. After the events of the first game, she now believes him and wants to vindicate him as well as redeem herself for failing him. Naturally, her adventure takes her to another dark place filled with bad guys who really want to kill her.
You know how it is. Just another day at the office for the Tomb Raider.
The 2013 reboot had an interesting edge in that Lara was heading out on a mission for the very first time. Watching her evolve and grow through the events of the game, in some way better and others less so, was amazing. In particular, the conversations between the cultists she fought were fantastic. They start out talking trash about her. By the end of the game, they’re praying to survive her.
In the sequel, that edge is inherently lost. She has been to these darks places before and we’ve already been there with her. And the dark places of Rise of the Tomb Raider just aren’t as dark or as consistently gruesome as Tomb Raider, which was frequently a survival horror game. The sequel seems to lean less on that genre but more towards the adventure roots of the franchise. Not that this is a bad thing on any level.
Where the sequel makes up for it is in drawing emotion from that experience and translating it to her current feelings of guilt. That raw reality adds an important dimension to the action. And this game is filled with amazing action.
This game has a lot of options for weapons, customization, and ways to use them as well as a variety of gadgets to collect to make her tomb raiding pastime that much easier. There are once again a variety of options to advance Lara’s skills and make her more effective at everything else she does. Unfortunately, the game kind of spoon feeds all of this to you in the same way it pushes you on what is a very linear plot most of the time.
The main story definitely has an “A to B to C” vibe to it, similar to the first game and Uncharted 4. But unlike Uncharted 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider at least has a huge swath of tombs and collectibles to find and mess around in. It’s not like Nathan Drake’s last adventure didn’t have that kind of stuff going for it but it did lack the bigger exploration vibe. Rise of the Tomb Raider might be a little “A to B to C” but it least gives you the occasional option to divert through “Z” to get there. If you wanna take a break from the main story to do something else, that option is there, too. Rise of the Tomb Raider offers diverse enough gameplay options to keep things interesting. One of the big benefits to the 20 Year Celebration edition is that it includes a crapload of DLC and other content, meaning you can get right into the full vision of the game. Maybe waiting an extra year was worth it?
Rise of the Tomb Raider is a lively, energetic game that keeps you engaged. The 20 Year Celebration edition has a lot of added value to take that up a notch. It even does a great job of setting up future games and the continuing battle against an unseen overarching antagonist.
It’s another great game in a rebooted franchise that has a key gaming pedigree.