SHADOW OF THE TOMB RAIDER REVIEW

Hello fellow Raiders!


Two weeks ago, Crystal Dynamics had the kidness to offer us review codes of Shadow of the Tomb Raider. And now, after swan diving into the game and, here's my final impressions on the game!




Story

"After the events of Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara sets out to South America looking for a Mayan Relic and to tear down Trinity once and for all.

In the midst of a discovery, she triggers a Mayan Apocalypse and it's up to her to stop it and save the world."

In this new chapter, Lara is not a fragille woman anymore. She is deadly and prepared for what expects her.
While looking for an ancient artifact Lara does something terrebly wrong and from that point she doens't stop until she's fixed everything.

This time, Eidos Montrèal took an even darker direction in the narrative. You see Lara failing and it's outcomes that prove to be very tragic, higlighted many times throught the game. This also makes you closer to Lara, even identifing with her mistakes.

Lara feels much more like a human being, compared to Rise of the Tomb Raider. The natural physical and psychological growth of Lara as a character throughout this game is very clear, as she struggles with her mistakes. She is even deadlier and agrier, and there's a particular scene where Lara just gives you the chills!


In my opinion, the biggest misstep in the narrative was the villain. In the Cozumel level, he proved to be a more "likable character" so to say, with the way he would react to children and to Lara's mistake making he feel more like a intelligent and calculating person, compared to other villains from the trilogy, But quickly all of that falls apart. His motivations are clear to us, but feel very flat in it's execution, dragging many plot holes with it.

If you also thought you were getting the truth and explanation on Trinity, you are wrong. They barely talk about how it works, how Dr. Dominguez become so important inside the mysterious group out of nowhere, leaving so many questions unaswered, as Eidos Montrèal closed this chapter on Lara's life. I hope all of this is answered in a novel or comics, even thought all of this should integrate Shadow's narrative.

The story is a "mixed bag", at times providing deep and emotional moments where you can relate to the main characters, but the main premise of the End of the World is quickly forgotten and only remembered in certain areas, to award the player with a destruction spectacle. The pacing at many moments is off, making the narrative feel very slow and boring at times and not blending exploration with narrative in a satisfying way. Also, closing to the game's end, it all just comes crumbling down and we get a very unsatisfying ending.



Graphics

There is not much to say about the graphics.

Visually, Shadow of the Tomb Raider improves on it's predecessor, but not drastically.
The game's texture and assets look higher resolution and playing it on 4K just highlights it even more.
Spending your time in a lush environment, the game looks much different than Rise, but only in a artistic direction.

Lara's model looks identical to her last iteration, only changing some minor details on her body, and this is actually very dissapointing. The hair on this game is wierder in a way, feeling more plastic and unnatural compared to Rise.

The gaming industry changes a lot in three years (the time of the making of Shadow), and graphics also advance. We can draw many examples from recent releases like Spider Man, where character models look great, and it's dissapoiting not to see many improvements on Tomb Raider graphics.

Obviously, there are parts where the game shines bright, but it's sad to see 2015 graphics in a late 2018 game.




Gameplay



Shadow of the Tomb Raider retains all the elements that previous games introduced and slightly improves on them. The game doesn't do much new, only introducing a few elements, like a brand new skill tree, changes up the crafted ammunition, outfit crafting, but the greatest stand out is Stealth.

Lara can now blend in with the Jungle Environment to reduce enemy awareness using mud, to hide from them in bushes or mud walls, thus making Lara a deadlier oponent. But, stealth sections, compared to Rise, are unfortunately very few, which made me wishing there were more moments where you could silently takedown each enemy one by one.

The aforementioned enemies are extremly dissapointing. Their AI is terrible and there were times where I was taking down oponents while others were just right in front of me watching the bodies piling up. It just felt like they were waiting to be killed. 

Crafting materials is still present, but it does not have the same gameplay impact as before. Even though you can craft different types of ammunition, like flame arrows and the new fear arrows, they just feel poorly used and quickly forgotten.

Exploring is perhaps the most engaging and exciting element in Shadow. Each area is huge and full of collectibles and Tombs to explore, and the game emphasises and encourages you to look everywhere for items. This was, in my opinion, the most positive aspect of the game. Finally, after two titles, they made Tomb Raider be Tomb Raider again, and as a fan, I couldn't be happier.

But unfortunaly, the game looks and plays exacly the same as Rise of the Tomb Raider, bringing no exciting inovations to Lara.




Conclusion

"A Tight Rope "

Overall, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a good adition to this long-running franchise.
Even though it's flawed in many aspects, it's still a great time, and for fans of the series and adventure game fans it's more of what we just love!

But for many gamers out there looking for a different experience, I can't really recommend this game a full price. The performances and voice acting are great, as well as the exploration, but it all feels very simular to its last outing, and the story just leaves many unanswered questions that should have been adressed here.

If you have the opportunity, you won't fully regret, because underneath it's a good game.

Review written by Edming.
(Thank you Square Enix for providing a review copy of the game)

Lara's Fridge

We are three young Portuguese boys that grew up seeing Lara Croft as a true icon for our generation, and we created this fansite so we could share the love we have for the Tomb Raider, hoping to make a contribuition on this huge community!

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