I picked up my PS4 copy of “Rise Of The Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration” on Tuesday, and it is everything I had ever hoped and dreamed it would be.
“ROTR” was originally a timed a timed Microsoft exclusive, meaning it was only available on Xbox and PC platforms for a year after its release. It has been a long time waiting to finally get my hands on my Playstation 4 edition (I DETEST Xbox), but the wait was well worth it.
Jam packed with all previously released DLC and content for the original edition of the game in addition to loads of new content, “ROTR” on PS4 is the definitive edition of the game for the most dedicated Lara Croft fans. It includes original character models from “Tomb Raider,” “Tomb Raider II,” “Tomb Raider: Chronicles,” “Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness;” a new story DLC and zombie-wave game mode both set in Lara’s home, Croft Manor, a longtime staple of the franchise; a new cooperative online game mode, and so much more.
I just finished the game’s campaign today, and I was more than satisfied with the game as a whole. Though not as strong as its predecessor’s tale of gritty survival and ascension to greatness, I felt right at home in the fictional world and its mythos. Lara has never looked or sounded better, thanks to Camilla Luddington’s talented and smooth voice acting and motion capture.
Camilla Luddington is the fifth voice actress to portray Lara Croft in the franchise.
Combat is more varied than in “Tomb Raider” (2013 reboot), and it allows players to pick a playstyle that best suits them. Lara can run straight into combat with guns blazing and axes swinging, hide in the canopies of the trees and stealthily take out her enemies one by one, or use whiskey bottles and tin cans to craft Molotov cocktails and grenades to hurl at the bad guys.
Watch your back, my friend.
Exploration drives Lara’s character yet again, and discovering journals, deciphering ancient writings, and recovering relics and treasures reaps great rewards for both Lara and the player.
Aside from the main campaign and its extra story packs, there is endless fun to be had in “Exhibition Mode.” Here, players can defend Croft Manor from waves of zombies in “Lara’s Nightmare,” survive in the wilderness while searching for as many relics as possible, keeping warm, and gathering food in “Endurance Mode,” and replay chapters from the game with new challenges and variations in “Replay Chapter.”
"I'm taking back my home, you bastards!"
Lara definitely isn’t the same girl she was back in 1996 when “Tomb Raider” was first released. Many of the die-hard fans of the Core Design era of the franchise abhor Crystal Dynamics and the direction they’ve taken with the game, but I don’t share that same hatred.
Crystal Dynamics first saved the franchise from certain doom with their first reboot, “Tomb Raider: Legend,” where they introduced a new Lara that was much more human and relatable while still being a total badass. The franchise started to slip again with “Tomb Raider: Underworld,” and they were able to save it from the clutches of death with the 2013 reboot, where Lara was once again written as “the girl next door:” grounded, naive, unsure of herself, and terrified of the circumstances she finds herself in.
Where the original Lara suggested that women have to be outrageously sexy and cold-blooded to be powerful, the new Lara gives players a heroine that everyone can relate to. We want to be great. We all want to believe that we are destined to rise. What matters is how we make ourselves be great, and that’s what Lara teaches us all.
So to the fans that refuse to give the “ROTR” a chance, get over it. Franchises grow up and change as the years go on -- they can’t do the same thing forever. That’s how beloved franchises die.
“You don’t know how far I’ve come,” Lara says early on in the game, with a confidence and wit that feels oh so familiar. From 1996 to 2016, 20 years of “Tomb Raider” is definitely something to celebrate. Happy 20th, Lara Croft. Thanks for growing up with me.