Rise of the Tomb Raider (PS4) vs. Uncharted 4: A Comparison Between Both Games
Title: Rise of the Tomb Raider
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Players: 1-2 (online co-op)
Rated: M for Mature
I elected to review Rise of the Tomb Raider for PS4 for two big reasons, even though I reviewed it around this time last year for PC. The first reason was that my experience on PC wasn’t ideal. While I loved the game, and you can find that review here, which greatly breaks down the actual elements of RotRT, the framerate wasn’t great (due to my system specs), and it made some parts of the game harder than it was originally intended. The second, more important reason, was that I wanted to compare it to Uncharted 4. With both games out this year on the PS4, I wanted to see which was the better overall game, in a few different subjects.
To start with, the PS4 version of the game offers the full game and all the DLC that has come before. It also has a few new pieces of DLC and several costumes/gear for you to try and the score attack and other things.
The New Stuff
The biggest new addition to the game is with the Croft Manor DLC. This DLC comes in two flavors, the Croft Manor itself and the Lara’s Nightmare mode. Croft Manor involves you hunting down the lost will your father left you so Lara can keep the house and your dastardly uncle won’t kick you out. You get a lot of backstory here about Lara’s father, mother, uncle, and even Lara herself, which does help fill in some of the gaps the main game had. There is no combat in this narrative, it just involves you tracking down clues to the puzzles around the mansion, and finding the required gear to enter certain locked off areas. There’s also a very good in-joke about a young Lara locking a certain butler into a freezer.
Lara’s Nightmare is light horde mode featuring zombies that are attacking you in the manor. You have to hunt down three skulls in the manor to summon the boss. This mode uses the same card pack system as the expedition mode, so you can adjust the difficulty by giving yourself upgraded weapons, or by taking more damage from explosions. To be honest, I didn’t have a ton of fun in this mode personally, but I can see it appealing to score hunters out there.
There is also a VR mode for the game where you can use the PlayStation VR to roam around Croft Manor. But since I don’t have a PSVR and it’s not even out at the time I write this, I can’t offer an opinion on whether or not this is a good addition. Likewise, there is an online co-op survival mode, but parts of the game aren’t online for me to play, as I played pre-release, so I can’t comment on this either
This version of the game also includes some *great* new cards for the score attack mode. It includes cards for some of the old weapons but the big thing is including costumes from old Tomb Raider games. These include outfits from Tomb Raider 2, Tomb Raider 3 (I believe) and Angel of Darkness, and they are in perfect blocky form. Sadly, you can’t play the actual story this way, but it’s a hilarious and nice addition to the history of the series.
Now I’ll go through the comparisons that Rise of the Tomb Raider and Uncharted 4 through a few different key points.
Gameplay: Winner: Rise of the Tomb Raider
Nothing against Uncharted 4 but Tomb Raider blows it out of the water almost entirely. For one, Tomb Raider has crafting and actual legitimate upgrades both from a skill system and with the Metroidvania-esque items/gear you get as you progress through the story. Another factor is that Tomb Raider isn’t a linear experience, Uncharted 4 is. That is fine for some people, and I did like Uncharted 4, but having a reasonably large environment to do side quests and hunt down things to upgrade your weapons adds a lot more to the overall game.
On a more fundamental level, I think the gunplay and action is just better in Tomb Raider. Uncharted gets points for having more varied weapons, 21 in Uncharted vs. about 12 in Tomb Raider, but that is kind of about it. The shooting in Uncharted 4 feels swimmy, either with the lock-on assist or without it. Meanwhile, the shooting in Tomb Raider feels responsive, especially when you’re using the bow to take guys down. That’s not even mentioning the additional ways to take out enemies. In Uncharted you have guns, melee and grenades, but in Tomb Raider you have guns, arrows with fire/poison cloud/grenades, melee and a lot more stealth. There are stealth areas in Uncharted 4 but they are more structured and annoying, just waiting for an enemy to get by you for you to dispatch them. In Tomb Raider, most of the combat encounters begin as stealthy, and it’s up to you if you want to take out enemies quietly, or just go in with guns blasting.
Replayability: Winner: Rise of the Tomb Raider (but only slightly)
Both games offer pretty good value for long term replay factor but Tomb Raider edges out Uncharted 4 by a hair. While the core story of Uncharted 4 is pretty short (about 6 to 8 hours), there are collectibles to find, a really cool cheat menu to buy things from (like infinite weapons and health) and a fully featured multiplayer mode that is a lot of fun, even if they do nickel and dime you about unlocks. However, the collectibles don’t offer a lot outside of currency for the cheat menu and there isn’t an in-game reason to get most of them.
Rise of the Tomb Raider has a metric ton of collectibles as well, from notes, to caches of materials, to coins, etc., but they all go toward the central goal of giving Lara experience or unlocking gear (in the coins case). While there isn’t a competitive multiplayer mode, there is the score attack stuff, so you can replay levels with the modifiers and complete challenges. This PS4 version also includes the DLC like Baba Yaga, survival mode, the zombie Cold Darkness stuff and so on. Baba Yaga is fine, but the survival and Cold Darkness content left me cold, no pun intended, the same with the Lara’s Nightmare mode in the Croft Manor pack.
Like I said above though, Tomb Raider has the added benefit of being almost Metroid-esque in its construction. For example, there are optional tombs for you to discover and complete which give Lara special skills. But, to unlock some of the tombs you need gear like the wire spool or rebreather which you get as you play through the story. Plus, because of world construction, you can go back to earlier areas and hunt down all the missing things you either didn’t see at the time, or that you can now actually get because you have the right gear. If you just wanted to do a critical path run of Rise, it might take 7 to 9 hours, but actually finding all the hidden stuff, doing the challenges, and helping people out with side missions, it doubles that number.
Graphics: Winner: Uncharted 4
Both games look great, but I think Uncharted 4 edges it out slightly. Both games feature motion capture by their respective actors, but Uncharted just does better work, because they have more people to draw from. Tomb Raider uses Camilla Luddington to great effect, it looks like she was the only one who was the voice and mocap actor. Uncharted had the five main actors done up this way, which really adds to the realism in the game. Also, because Uncharted does have more constrained levels, they are able to add more depth, because they don’t have to worry about other stuff. Lastly, I did encounter one small graphical error with Tomb Raider, after I came back from a system rest state. Lara’s axe wasn’t attached to her belt and would glitch out, especially during campfire sequences. It’s a very minor issue though and not one most people are going to see.
Sound: Winner: Push
Honestly, both games have good audio in different ways. You can’t fault Uncharted’s voice acting at all with Nolan North, Troy Baker and Laura Bailey (to name a few) heading up the game with some very solid acting. Tomb Raider has Ludington do some fantastic work as Lara, who actually does go on an emotional journey throughout the game. Some of the other voice work is forgettable but still good. I do like the special audio cue in Tomb Raider to signify when fights are over, it’s subtle, but the more you play, the more you can recognize it.
Fun Factor: Winner: Rise of the Tomb Raider
As I’ve said above, Rise of the Tomb Raider gets points for an open game that really prides itself on exploration and discovering all the secrets in an area. That appeals to me, as it did in the past Tomb Raider game, because it’s almost akin to a Metroidvania or Zelda style game, where you use newly gained tools to access parts of the map you didn’t have access to, which gets you more rewards. Uncharted 4 is like a non-stop action ride, but because everything is cranked to 11, you never have any time to absorb it all. Even in Uncharted 4’s slower moments, it’s just about trying to head to the next objective for the story to advance. Rise of the Tomb Raider’s story is languid, but allows you to really take in the world they’ve built, all the backstory the logs present, and for you to derive more enjoyment out of the game.
Overall Winner: Rise of the Tomb Raider