Shadow of the Tomb Raider Review

Since the series’ reboot in 2013, Tomb Raider is now on everyone’s mind more than ever. From 1996 when she was first introduced to us, up until the present, we have seen Lara Croft evolve with each new title.
When the reboot was revealed, we were surprised by a younger and inexperienced Lara Croft, heading towards her first adventure. The adventure that taught her to be a fighter, a hunter and most of all, a survivor.
From there on in, Lara Croft became The Tomb Raider.
Fast forward 5 years later and we are here with Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
STORY
The game starts by showing us Lara is still the strong and yet stubborn heroin we now know and love. Though that stubbornness gets her into rather tight situations (literally). The only other characteristics that match her hard-headedness is her endurance and dexterity.
The story unfolds in Mesoamerica, a region of North America bordering South America, and starts with Lara and Jonah searching for a tomb (you don’t say). It also serves an area for you to get a feel for the climbing, which you will be doing quite a lot of, and general movement. Traversing rock faces and swan diving is fun as ever. You can almost say it hints towards clever platforming.
The story is your “Save the World from Destruction at the hands of a Mayan God” plot. Besides the higher powers, Trinity is on Lara’s case still and she is set out to stop their plans. General story telling is complimented by excellent voice acting and facial expressions with spot on execution during moments of amazement, anger and surprise. So each story moment feels genuine and well played out.
Worth noting. As brilliant as Lara is, Jonah is now by far one of my favourites. He has an on-screen gentleness and charm, think of a gentle giant. Throughout the story he offers subtle guidance to Lara, but it is here where she subtly let her arrogance come out. However, she comes down to planet earth quick when Jonah is speaking. These moments are brief but has a lasting effect.
GAMEPLAY
Shadow of the Tomb Raider offers a unique take on the game’s difficulty and accessibility. Combat, Exploration and Puzzle Difficulty can be set independently. So the game can be for new players without scaring them away and offers a decent challenge to experienced players.
In short, Easy Difficulty will put you in the shoes of a master hunter, preying over the helpless foes. The Hard Difficulty is where the tables are turned and your knowledge of plants, enemy movement and climbable surfaces will be tested.
Regardless of the difficulty played on, Lara still have to rely heavily on stealth. Mud, which is basically an applicable material at certain points, helps with sneaking. The overgrowth for concealed take-downs. Lara is also not without her heavier arsenal. Assault rifle feel precise and deadly, Pistols are quick and deadly, and Shotguns? They are extremely deadly. However, it is Lara’s bow that is still the best and most versatile weapon slash tool there is. That being said, firefights are rather few and far between. More time for raiding I suppose.
Even though her signature twin ice axes are always nearby, Lara often struggles in hand to hand combat, which makes it more essential to aim for stealth take downs.
The skill tree is your standard layout of your three main hunting abilities, Warrior(Fighter), Seeker(Hunter) and Scavenger(Survivor).
FINAL THOUGHTS
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an amazing game with moments where its beauty shines. I don’t want to say the mechanics and graphics looks dated because it really doesn’t. Yes, side by side with the previous games it will almost identical, but I cannot help being amazed by small details. One that stands out the most is when you head towards the surface of the water, you get a blurry reflection of Lara on the surface.
The addition of the Photography Mode is a feature I will surely have far more fun with than oogling over the already amazing graphics.
I do have just one issue with this feature. It acts more like a tool working with the Screenshot feature on today’s consoles. I will admit that the selectable facial expression feature makes for some interesting shots. Smiling during tense moments, angry face while interacting with the local, you get the idea.
VERDICT
Lara’s latest adventure is a memorable one full of lasting appeal. Even though the mechanics are dated, controls are tight and exploration is fun. Even after the game is finished, you can play again with your already unlocked skill set, which then adds a huge amount of re-playability.
SCORE: 9/10
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