Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a good game but it's one that doesn’t offer many surprises. It retains the solid foundation established in the 2013 reboot, while incrementally improving upon 2015’s Rise of the Tomb Raider. There are new stealth mechanics, bustling hub areas, challenging puzzles, and a beautiful new environment. However, there’s also an overwhelming sense of familiarity to proceedings. For those invested in the unfolding narrative, the biggest draw of Shadow will be the chance to experience Lara and the sinister Trinity organisation going head to head, and discovering what kind of Tomb Raider will emerge if she survives.
On the narrative front, Shadow has more ups than downs but, I’ll warn you in advance, appreciating all the key players and their motivations requires a willingness to read. More so than any of the previous games, exploring and uncovering ancient documents is essential to understanding Trinity’s influence on an ancient and isolated Mayan society, and the actions of other interlopers, all of whom have influenced events in the present. In particular, the final hours of the game take you to a stunning new location, with some great puzzles to boot, but it feels like a leap if you’ve not been reading the old missionary letters scattered throughout Paititi. On the upside, if you put in the effort, you’ll uncover a world rich in detail, full of short but informative descriptions of Mayan, Aztec, and Inca deities and cultural practices.
Lara is starting to recognise the consequences of her actions, as her self-interested obsession with taking down Trinity triggers an impending apocalypse that frames the action
Lara’s allies are, for the most part, a strong and likeable group of powerful women, however, the villains are decidedly one-note
For those returning for the gameplay, you won’t be disappointed if you enjoyed Rise and are looking for a familiar experience, albeit one with a far better balance of traversal, puzzling, and combat
Lara has the ability to break line of sight and return to stealth, allowing for guerrilla tactics. You can dash out to stealth-kill an enemy (or three), sowing chaos amongst the ranks, before disappearing from sight and planning how to pick off the next panicked foe
The hub areas are technically impressive, and contain several lengthy sidequests to tackle, however, they also highlight Shadow’s problem with bloat and the impact that has on pacing
...one thing that never failed to impress is the visuals, audio, and the atmosphere they generated
Enjoys games with awesome stories and characters, along with new and interesting hardware. Dislikes day-one patches and driver updates.
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Eidos Montreal, Crystal Dynamics
PC, PS4, Xbox One
12 September 2018
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