REVIEW NOTE: SOME SPOILERS AHEAD
Picking up after the events of the previous game, Lara and her best friend and long time expedition companion Jonah Maiava are in pursuit of Trinity in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Initially searching for a relic capable of “reshaping” the world in Mexico, Lara soon discovers removing it from its resting place has triggered a Maya apocalypse. Only with a second relic can she hope to save the planet from destruction, and her mission takes her to the jungles of Peru in search of answers.
From Mexico to Peru, gorgeous locations everywhere
The Shadow of the Tomb Raider graphics and visuals are looking just about as beautiful as can be and the character models have been improved especially Jonah’s overall look and demeanor and he is more involved in the game’s overall story and in game guidance. Now back to the visuals, besides the beautiful cinematic cut scenes and character design, the developers really improved the small things like the visuals rendered in the fire and subsequent smoke being as real as possible, including making Lara’s movements in water more realistic with all the ripples moving in the right direction.
Most of the locations you move through are awe inspiring at times whether it be finding your way through the winding streets of Cozumel, Mexico or fighting Jaguars in the jungles of Peru just adds to the overall energy to the game, plus with all these beautiful scenes that’s where the Photographer Mode shines brightly, snap some amazing in game photos and Lara becomes one hell of an Instagram traveler 🙂
Emotional and Captivating Story
As with the previous titles in the trilogy it is no surprise that Lara Croft is on the hunt to take down Trinity and stop them from doing whatever they have planned as it is generally never a good outcome when Trinity is in town. Your journey with Lara in Shadow of the Tomb Raider begins literally in pain, she is on the trail of Trinity and Dr. Dominguez however Lara’s leg has been pinned down by some rocks that you have to pry open to set here free, lets just say there is an explosion in the first 3 minutes of game and you are roped into Lara’s world in seconds. Your first interactions with Trinity are none confrontational and basically snooping around and eavesdropping on Trinity member Dr. Dominguez and his right hand Commander Rourke in the town of Cozumel. As with any Lara game your mission is to find either an artifact or a temple that holds the key to something that either will help humanity or doom it forever. Well since this is a Tomb Raider title, we know destruction is only one click away 🙂
Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s story is one of redemption, revenge and sacrifice. Lara makes a catastrophic mistake in the temple, the same artifact that Trinity is looking for is soo powerful that once removed from its location will casue several cataclysms, a tsunami, a storm, an earthquake, and a volcanic eruption as depicted by a mural in a chamber within the temple. Lara impulsively takes a dagger that begins your brutal and enthralling journey as Lara in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Faster, Engaging & Brutal
As with Rise of the Tomb Raider, similarities are there you still spend most of your time moving from cliff side to cliff side and earning gold/experience points in order to upgrade your abilities making your journey through the treacherous jungles and temples easier. Crystal Dynamics and the Eidos Montréal team really made Lara more rough and in some cases heartless, however we believe with what she has been through and seen she has a right to be. Probably our favorite addition to the stealth mechanism in the game has to be the option to cover herself in mud, allowing Lara to camouflage herself with the environment and sneak around while hiding in vines, leaves and various walls of mud that provides a great waiting spot for that sweet stealth attack. At times the gameplay makes Lara so brutal that she almost has a better kill streak than Trinity, even though the carnage she unleashes seems justified among all the torture Trinity unleashes on people we still believe a more subtle option would be nice. Something that does slow down the pace a little is the exploration and puzzles that are satisfying whn you pull it off on the first try, usually however death or failure is inevitable and if someone says they never died once throughout the game, don’t trust them…they are a member of Trinity 🙂
Combat still features four weapon types bow, pistol, shotgun, rifle, however you can use her famous ice axe as a melee attack when in close proximity to an enemy, or if you just so happen to run out of bullets 🙁 Oh and she still doesn’t have her iconic dual-wielding pistols. Upgrading your outfit,weapons and skills happen at those dedicated camp fires found around the map, and all your accomplishments will allow you to upgrade your weapons and your skills regularly so you are ready for the next battle. Also the skill tree has been improved and is less linear which allows a greater degree of flexibility. Swimming is not as brutal, however because it has been expanded with Lara now able to swim deeper there are more dangers under the water than ever before, they have added pockets of air that players can use to breathe so Lara doesn’t drown while on her way to the next objective.
Everything that we loved about Tomb Raider & Rise of the Tomb Raider has been retained as well as some notable character, gameplay mechanic improvements. If you love titles like Uncharted and movies like Indiana Jones and have not played a single Tomb Raider, you should start for those that are in the conclusion section who have played the previous games, why are you still here and not in game?