I’ve already written my thoughts on Rise of the Tomb Raider as it was back in January, and you can see my thoughts on that here. But now along comes Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, which is a Game of the Year Edition in all but name. It also marks the first time the sequel has been made available on PS4 after Microsoft snapped up close to a year’s exclusivity.
As with just about any game of the year edition, Rise of the Tomb Raider’s 20th Anniversary Edition packs in every bit of DLC release so far and some goodies on top. It’s a comprehensive package cramming in hours and hours of gameplay.
In addition to the base game, which I thought was a very solid package on its own, we also get Endurance Mode, Cold Darkness Awakened DLC, Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch story content, a brand new Blood Ties level (also playable in VR), 12 outfits, seven weapons and 35 expedition cards. It’s a mighty AAA bundle, all said and done, pretty much doubling the length of a playthrough.
Reviewing this is quite a tricky process having tackled the original game already, so I’ll just stick to what’s new. I’d say Baba Yaga is the pick of the bunch, dropping Lara into an all-new area accessible from the main campaign. She’s on the search for a witch of folklore who she believes killed her grandfather. This takes a turn into psychedelic territory at some points , but for the most part is more of the same light puzzle solving elements and shooting arrows we’ve come to expect from the game.
Endurance mode is Rise of the Tomb Raider’s take on survival. Lara must forage for supplies in the freezing cold and attempt to survive for as long as possible. From her encampment she can search out for caves loaded with traps in an effort to find rare artifacts. The more you find the more points you get. Unlike this rest of Rise’s modes, Endurance is aimed at replayability; chasing down high scores and perfecting runs. It’s no Don’t Starve, but it’s an entertaining diversion for an afternoon or two.
Then we have the final part of RotTR’s Season Pass - Cold Darkness Awakened. This is creatively a bit bereft and has Lara facing off against zombie foes. It’s much more action-oriented than the other DLC though, playing to a different set of strengths which is often under-explored in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Occasionally this shines a bit of a spotlight onto how the combat doesn't quite hold its own, but by and large it's a frenetic, action-packed DLC which is more Gears of War horde mode than Tomb Raider.
Lastly we’ve got Blood Ties, the brand new chapter playable in VR. You can do it with or without a headset. I haven’t got one yet so naturally enough did it without. Blood Ties is split into two parts - in the first, Lara is poking about Croft Manor, providing some decent back-story on Lara, her parents, and how they ran into trouble. It’s slow pace is clearly designed for VR and it’s probably an entertaining diversion for those who’ve splashed out on a headset. Along with this we get Lara’s Nightmare, an action-packed run through Croft Manor after it’s infested by the undead. It’s decent, throway fun with a smidgen of replayability, but it’s nowhere near the finest that Rise of the Tomb Raider has to offer.
All in all this package escalates Rise of the Tomb Raider from a strong game to an excellent one. There were a few reservations as to how much gameplay you were getting for your money with the original, but this right here answers that with aplomb. There’s heaps to on top of the standard campaign and for the most part it’s of a good quality. The original faults remain, namely that Rise of the Tomb Raider lacks the original thinking of the reboot, but what is here is slick, polished fun. If you haven’t picked up Rise of the Tomb Raider yet then is without doubt the package to go for, but if you do already own it on a different platform then I’d recommend waiting for a sale to pick up the extras.