Rise of the Tomb Raider PS4 Review: Mind Your Manors

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I put off playing the Tomb Raider reboot in 2013 because I didn’t think it would be that good, as pretty and enticing as it all looked. I was wrong to do that. Sorry, Lady Croft, my sincerest apologies. Fast forward two years and I was ready to drop my money on the next installment, expecting more of the greatness I had encountered, but money was tight and many of the reviews just didn’t seem to think it was as good as its predecessor. So, I did my best to avoid spoilers, and I waited.

Just as I prepared to rectify this though I heard that another version was coming up for PS4 that would include all of the DLC that had been announced and maybe even something a little special.

Alright, fine. You have my attention and my time.

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I’m not going to talk much about the main game here, as that was already expertly handled on this site, where Andrew Esposito broke down the experience on Xbox One. The graphics and performance differences seem negligible. Overall, the main campaign brought a few new things to the table and still managed to not impress as much as the last one did.

The game relied a little more on things that became irritating—please stop with the quick time reactions and cutscene interruptions—and the new elements that looked promising got old quick. There was a ton to do though and in the end, I didn’t want to put the controller down until Lara’s journey was over, before the last boss fight that is, where I questioned if her struggle (and mine) were really worth it. In short, if someone is buying Rise of the Tomb Raider just for the story campaign, it doesn’t matter which version is purchased.

New Additions From Last Year 

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There are two main new additions on the main menu. The first of which is Blood Ties, an investigative look at a nearly-dilapidated version of Croft Manor. It’s a side story that spends more time making references to other parts of the family and past games in Lara’s series than it does adding anything to the main adventure of this title, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Instead, the protagonist’s non-combat / survival skills are focused on, as there are no enemies in this mode. Our heroine finds herself using impressive investigative skills in an unfamiliar childhood home, searching for her father’s will, and finding much more than she expected.

It provides a creepy atmosphere and plenty of throwbacks to collectable items from other games (jade dragons and golden roses), and a few well-placed comedic nods in an otherwise dark game. Ah, memories of locking Winston in the freezer. I like the characterization here. It does a lot for a protagonist that already has a long history and depth. Blood Ties is barely close to two hours of play on someone’s first time through, but the home is explorable afterwards, which is something I’m glad they added.

Returning To Laura Croft In 2016 

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The second visit into Croft Manor begins the same way as the first, but the color difference insinuates a much different tone, and once the letter is read, these two modes could not be more diametrically opposed. Lara’s Nightmare has none of the exploration, fun references, or character building as Blood Ties does, but is in fact a claustraphic and dull addition that oozes an uninspired aura from the start. I thought I just wasn’t getting it at first, so I kept playing and put way more time in here than I actually wanted to. This game’s combat system isn’t great, but this mode makes it feel worse and shines a bit too much light on some of the flaws.

There are cards to help the player here, but they are mostly annoying and I was frustrated for some reason that I had to be logged into the PSN to access them. It honestly isn’t a mode I found worth beating and it even froze on me a couple of times—just in case I wasn’t having fun already. Just like the Expeditions (challenges), I can’t see this as a recurring nightmare for many fans, other than some hardcore completionists or zombie enthusiasts.

There are some other small additions in this, as it includes all of the previous DLC, some fun skins (including that sexy catsuit from Chronicles), a co-op for Endurance mode, and a new difficulty for the main story, Extreme Survivor. I somehow doubt that last one—or any of the aforementioned extras, really—will have me going back through the main story anytime soon. The more I play the extra content, the more bugs I run into, like getting stuck in walls, or how the animation won’t activate for this door at 5:00 AM and I’m thinking about just turning the console off.  Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoyed the overall experience, but hate several things about it.


A Playstation 4 copy was provided by the publisher. To learn more about our score, read our review policy

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Rise of the Tomb Raider PS4
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One who writes for different places, waking up late in the day to struggle with commas, broken controllers, and nightmares of Silent Hill and Yo! Noid.