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“Blood Ties” Retrospective

It’s hard to believe that this October will already mark one year since “Rise Of The Tomb Raider” was finally released for the Playstation 4. Unique to this release was the addition of a brand-new DLC “Blood Ties”, which not only takes us back to Croft Manor but gives the fans a long-overdue nostalgia rush in the process. So how does this DLC shape up a year later?

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Last year Crystal Dynamics teamed up with Nixxes to celebrate the series reaching its 20-year milestone. After playing through the other DLC’s, I can say this is the strongest out of all of them. Once again we welcome back puzzles and exploration while combat takes a much needed backseat – a nice change of pace for sure.

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Successfully blending old and new Croft manors.

Right from the start you can tell how much love and time was put into designing the new Manor; there’s so much attention to detail. While the manor layout is indeed new, Nixxes managed to blend the old with the new beautifully. The manor still at times resembles not only the Legend manor but the Core Design manor as well in its own little ways. The main hall is a good example of blending both styles together nicely. Thankfully, Nixxes chose to get rid of pointless corridors (which was a gripe of mine about the Legend manor) to make sure every single room actually serves a purpose. Also nice to note is that the outside of the manor is reddish brown like the classic manor.

 

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It’s not Croft manor without secrets!

 

The strongest points of this DLC are exploration and puzzles. In a way, the puzzles are a nice throwback to the classic games where you would push and pull objects to progress. While progressing through the manor, you’ll learn the story about Lara’s mother (yeah I know, here we go again, but at least its told through notes… mostly). In addition, you will have to hunt down certain files to crack Richard Croft’s safe, which I actually found pretty fun.

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An oenophile’s paradise.

What this DLC truly does right is the atmosphere. From the moment the game starts and you step out into the main hall the atmosphere is incredible. The manor hasn’t been maintained, so you’ll see not only water seeping into the manor but actual pieces of it missing – which is a sight to behold. My favorite areas, of course, have to be the wine cellar along with the final area of the DLC which I won’t spoil, but the atmosphere and sense of isolation in these sections is what I wish Crystal would bring back to the main series.

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Atmosphere was one of this DLC’s strongest points.

 

Longtime fans will be right at home with this DLC, as it has tons of throwbacks to the original games. It was nice to see so many Easter eggs put into the game; here’s a list of a few:

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Dress or tank-tops, Lara’s loves her aquamarine!

1. Library : Longtime fans will recognize the song Lara plays as “Venice Violins” from Tomb Raider 2.
2. A picture of young Lara in a blue dress which is a throwback to Lara’s classic outfit color.
3. Artifact wise you’ll stumble upon some interesting items such as the Golden Rose from Chronicles, the Jade statue from TR2, and an Egyptian Ankh from TR4 to name just a few.

The biggest nod to the classic fans is a note from everyone’s favorite butler, Winston. While he doesn’t make an appearance in the actual DLC, he does write about how Lara would lock him in the fridge. Here’s hoping future titles bring him back to serve Lara once more.

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Zombies and shotguns and nightmares, oh my…

Also included with Blood Ties is another mode for the manor called Lara’s Nightmare. In a sense, I think this was included mainly to appease the fans of the action from the main games. It basically has Lara battling a bunch of zombies and dogs… and then fighting off her Uncle. Yeah, it’s weird. I only played it once and never went back to it. If you’re a fan of zombie games or action games I’m sure you’ll like it, but this mode was not for me.

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Door-to-door salesmen in Lara’s Nightmare are a pushy lot.

Also included in this release was classic skins showcasing the earlier Core Design games, which was a nice addition. The only drawback is you cannot use these skins in the main game until you beat the main campaign – other than the Antarctica outfit which can be used at any time. For those looking to replay sections of the game, you can enable the skins using the unique card system. My favorite skins were the AOD, TR2 Classic and Catsuit Lara from Chronicles. Oddly enough, even with the skins being lower poly, they blend in nicely with the game’s environments.

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Even 14 years later, AoD Lara still holds up.

 

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For that matter, our classic Lara is also as gorgeous as ever.

 

What are your memories and thoughts on Blood Ties and Lara’s Nightmare? Let us know in the comments, forums, or social media!


“Blood Ties” Retrospective by A. J. Rich / Survivor Reborn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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