Articles:2016/10/11/Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration Released
Today the Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration Edition has been released. PlayStation gamers had almost had a year to wait until they were able to get the latest adventure of Lara Croft on their favourite system.
But now it is out I will write a short review about the new Blood Ties DLC that takes Lara back to Croft Manor where she has to find evidence left by her father, Lord Richard Croft that she alone is the rightful heir.
First of all I want to say that there will probably be SPOILERS ahead, so if you do not want to know anything about the new DLC and want to find out about the manor yourself, don't read on! Just know that it is - in my opinion - the most beautifully made RotTR DLC so far, with lots of details and references to the previous games. I will, however, avoid heavy spoilers like "in the end it turns out that...", so it should be reasonably save to continue.
I really liked the Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch DLC because of its dense and compelling story, mixed with some heavy action, and the Cold Darkness Awakened DLC had its moments, too, but nonetheless I think this is even better, at least for an old Tomb Raider like me. There are Easter Eggs all over the place and we find out so much about Lara's parents and her background that it doesn't matter - at least to me - that there is no action at all. The story alone captivated me from beginning to end and exploring the derelict manor for clues was a reward in itself.
To play the new content one has to first play through the Syria level of the regular game. If you are on the PC or one of the Xboxes, you probably already done that, so you can just delve into the new content by selecting Croft Manor from the games main menu - it's right there between Expeditions and the Leaderboards.
If you have not played the main game yet, now is the time. Start a new game and just climb up the mountain together with Jonah. After the avalanche gets you, a cut scene comes up that takes you back to Lara's Flat in London and finally to the Northwest Border of Syria. Enjoy the sun and warmth, it's the last time in a long while you will feel warm, because the rest of the game is set in frosty Siberia. Get through the level and don't forget all the Relics and Challenges waiting here for you.
Lara starts out in the study where she reads a letter from her Uncle, Atlas de Mornay who is the executer of the estates at the moment. He wants Lara out. In the course of getting all the Documents and Relics in the Manor we will find out why. Lets just say, he and his family do not approve of Lara's life choices and they certainly are "not amused".
There is a big old safe in the wall and Lara thinks that her father has probably put his will in there. But she does not know the combination, so that's going to be a problem. Best start digging through his old stuff to find clues to how to unlock it.
That's all you need to know about the background story. Sounds like an easy job, doesn't it? The interesting parts are those where you find out about Lara's history, a certain butler, her mother Amelia, her father's love for her, how they met... and the Manor itself.
The Manor has always been one of the favourite game parts of the fans back in the classic games and the first three Crystal Dynamics games, Legend, Anniversary, and Underworld. So I was devastated when they blew it up in Underworld. Don't get me wrong, running through the burning building was fun, but it had a kind of finality to it that I didn't like.
But that's the past (or the future?)...
Now we are in the reboot timeline, the Manor is still standing. But only barely. It is rather run down as it seems that neither Lara nor her Uncle have done anything in the past few years to keep it maintained. A lot of doors are boarded up and therefore inaccessible to Lara, and the few that aren't are locked and she needs to find the Master Key. There is chaos everywhere.
But underneath this chaos the manor as we know it from the LAU games shines through, so if you played those games you might find everything is somewhat familiar. Except for the water damage in the basement and the tree that crashed into the West Wing and the beetles in the cellar and... did I say it looks a bit run down?
Still, there is lots to explore and if you are a thorough investigator you can spend hours here, looking at everything, picking up artefacts from Lord Croft's past. All the while a storm is raging outside and the flickering lights set the mood. Once I started exploring I simply could not stop and so I spend two hours easy, just running around and looking at everything.
There aren't that many puzzles to solve in the Manor. Your main objective is to get proof that Lara is the rightful heir and what stands in her way is mostly the safe door. As for physical puzzles you mainly have to move stuff around and find documets. Combining those clues is actually your job, Lara doesn't find the clue and magically opens the safe, you actually have to think about what you read and saw in the manor. Which surprised me a bit: I guess this, too, is a nod to the old school fans who were used to such brain teasers, while nowadays most things just seem to happen...
That said, this was the only time I was briefly stuck and I blame that on the fact that it was way past midnight and I was just a tiny bit tired... So the puzzles are not too hard and everyone should be able to get to the end of the level without too much trouble.
Is It Good?
As I said in the beginning: I think it is the best of the DLCs so far. I guess there won't be any more, so it probably is the best.
If you like action and fighting and shooting, the Manor is not for you, at least not the Blood Ties story. Maybe you have more fun fighting zombies in the Manor - to do so, simply choose Blood Ties: Lara's Nightmare from the Manor menu and you are good to go.
But if you like exploring and some puzzles that aren't too hard to solve, this is what you have been waiting for. Together with the Easter Eggs planted by the level designers this makes it my favourite.
Crystal Dynamics provided this fansite with a complimentary copy of this game for reviewing purposes.