Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the end to Lara Croft’s origin story since the Tomb Raider reboot and begins shortly after the events of Rise of the Tomb Raider with Lara and Jonah finding themselves travelling to Cozumel, a small town in Mexico in their on-going battle against Trinity, namely the head of the High Council, Pedro Dominguez.  However, as a result of her pursuit of Trinity, Lara finds herself in a Tomb that homes a mythical dagger that is some kind of key to cleansing our world.  Fearing the danger of this dagger falling into the hands of Dominguez, Lara takes it before Trinity can and thus starts a cataclysm event that destroys the town with an almighty tsunami.  These events have caused Lara to question her moral compass; was she the cause of this disaster and is she really fighting on the right side of the fence against Trinity?  It’s certainly an interesting perspective on our famous heroine and one that does a decent job in carrying the story of the forward.  Has our Lara Croft really become the villain?

Visually, just like its predecessors, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a very stunning game to look at.  The animation details portrayed on Lara’s face during the many altercations and interactions are among the best I’ve seen on this generation, especially during one of its key cut-scenes.  Though on close inspection, the facial animations are not quite to the same standard when speaking to NPC’s when in free-roam such as picking up a side-quest.  However, that is just a small gripe to what is a fantastic looking game.  The world too that you explore is quite easily the best looking in this origin trilogy, which is some feat considering how gorgeous Rise of the Tomb Raider still looks to this day.  The rain forests of South America are vibrant with colour and wildlife, populated villages with locals, stunning mountain backdrops and picturesque waterfalls that are perfect for that swan dive location which we are always on the hunt for in any Tomb Raider game.

The hub-world of Shadow of the Tomb Raider is said to be the largest in the series and after a couple of hours of playing, you’ll soon realise that this is no mere claim, it’s the clear truth.  The world is huge in Tomb Raider standards, a little overwhelming at first, but that becomes less so when you start to make use of the fast-travel system.  As you might expect, not only is Shadow of the Tomb Raider filled with side-quests, there are also plenty of the usual side-activities too, such as treasure and other collectible hunting, XP boost missions, and of course raiding tombs.  The latter especially has a higher emphasis, which is great as there are far more raiding of tombs and puzzle solving then any of the other games in this trilogy.

In terms of core gameplay, this is pretty much the same deal as before.  Lara will run, gun, climb and fight pretty much as she has done before.  But to be fair, there was nothing wrong with these elements to begin with in my opinion, so I see no reason to change anything in that respect.  However, there have been some subtle changes made to the gameplay, such as Lara being able to cover herself in mood, Arnold Schwarzenegger style like in the Predator.  Granted she can only use this mechanic against certain walls, but it’s quite cool none the less grabbing an unsuspecting enemy as he walks on by.

Out of all the three origin games, Shadow of the Tomb Raider certainly has more of a focus on stealth this around.  Stealth will also be far more important should you decide to take on the higher difficulty settings.  Another interesting feature implanted is the function to toggle difficulty options of not only the core gameplay, but also the difficulty of puzzles and tombs.  Some might turn their nose up at these features; but in my opinion they are good options to have if you just want to focus on the games narrative, and not so much the puzzle solving or exploring.  Some of the Silent Hill games offered you similar difficulty options.

Lara can also hold her breath under water for longer now, which is a good thing, because there is a lot of swimming in this game, so that helps to avoid the frustration of dying excessively when submerged.  Just be on the lookout for pesky eels and Piranha’s.  She can also rappel down canyons and cliffs using her rope, which again is a good thing, because she makes use of that tool a lot in this game.  You can also choose to make use of the Immersion Mode if you will, which can turn on or off the native langue of the locals you encounter.  So in other words, you can have it so many of them don’t speak your language.  However, one change that I don’t like is the change to the skill-tree system, which just looks a mess and isn’t easy to process at a quick glance due to how cluttered it looks.

In conclusion, if you’re after something drastic in this origin trilogy, then you’ll be disappointed as this is pretty much what we had before, just in some ways, more of it.  It looks better, it arguably plays better and it sounds just as well as it did before with great performances once again from Camilla Luddington (Lara Croft) and Earl Baylon (Jonah).  However, what I will say is that perhaps the story hasn’t gripped as much as the previous two games.  That said, this is still a very good Tomb Raider game and if that’s what you’re after, then Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a fun experience and does well to cater for fans and is a origin swan-song that will lead us into the new generation, which leaves me excited for whenever that time may be.  So for now Lara, thank you and goodbye.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake