Shadow of the Tomb Raider
A game of exploration and survival. Contains no story spoilers for this or the previous games.
If you've not yet played Tomb Raider
(2013) and Rise of the Tomb Raider
, do yourself a favor and play those first. They're excellent games, and this one ties in heavily with the story from the last game.
A few of the most notable Options:
- Keys/buttons can be re-mapped
- Brightness slider
- Language Immersion: Many characters will speak in their native tongue (with subtitles) by default, but you can have them speak in YOUR native language, instead, if you wish
- Three preset difficulties, BUT, you can adjust the difficulty of combat, exploration and puzzles separately
There are many options to help improve performance, but at the end of the day, you're going to need a pretty kick-a$$ rig to play this. Luckily, there is a DEMO available, so go check it out if there's any question!
I had only a couple of very minor glitches that lasted a few seconds. I have a small gripe, which is that sometimes you have to stand in just the right place before you can loot or interact with some items. Story
Lara has been trying to outwit the antagonist from Rise of the Tomb Raider
ever since she discovered their existence, but they always seem to be a step ahead of her. Now it's become a race to find the artifact that can stop the Mayan apocalypse, or die trying.
The game is rich in lore, with many collectibles that draw you deeper and deeper into the cultures as you explore. The scattered murals teach you about local history, and will eventually give you the ability to translate ancient monoliths. If you can solve the monolith riddles, they will direct you towards a nearby treasure trove, so there's a nice incentive to really look around.Gameplay
Lara Croft - A heroine with the strength and resilience to outperform the most skilled Ninja Warrior
, and the tactical knowledge and brawn to take out entire companies of the military's finest soldiers. That being said, there is MUCH less combat in this game than in the two previous installments. The fights you do
have seem to be on the short side, with only one "boss fight" in the entire game. There are also times when you'll be limited to bow-only, although there's a story-related explanation for this. Luckily, when you need them the most, all of your weapons will be available.
The true focus of Shadow of the Tomb Raider
is exploration and discovery. The tombs and crypts that we find are well-integrated with the story, making them feel more natural and less like an add-on than in previous installments (based upon standard game - I don't have any of the DLC).
It seems like the puzzles were also harder to figure out, though of course that could have been just me. Conversely, the Quick Time Events seemed easier this time around, with only one that I had to redo more than a couple of times.
is absolutely invaluable. Not only does it have a marker for your current objective, but it also has green markers for the optional quests and a blue marker for custom waypoints. Activating Survival Mode will, as always, give you these color-coded directional markers, as well.
There are some brand new game mechanics such as rappelling, and a revamped skill tree to use your skill points on.Sights and Sounds
The first thing I noticed upon entering the game was not the fantastic graphics, it was the audio. Every facet of the sound work from the tiniest peep from a bird to the music to explosions in the distance is cinematic in quality. The voice-overs are absolutely superb, and almost every character's voice was perfectly-suited to what we were seeing.
I am a huge fan of the 2013 Lara design, and I wasn't really impressed with the changes that they've made to her over time... That is until I started playing. The incredible acting and diversity of emotions that she - and indeed every character - expresses quickly got me past my bias and turned me into a fan of the new design.
This game is absolutely a dream come true for people like me who love to take screenshots, not only because of the impressive quality of the visuals, but also because of the in-game photo mode
. Although not quite as amazing as the mode is in Hellblade
(where you could pause and move the camera around during a cut scene!), there are plenty of options, and I loved getting just the right shot without having to hurry to hit the screenshot button. Fun fact: I spent the first hour of gameplay pausing the game every few seconds so that I could admire EVERYTHING. I took 176 shots during that first session! lol~Thoughts
I adored the game, but it is not without its faults. I can't/won't go into any details (no spoilers!), but I have to say that I questioned Lara's actions more than once during the course of the game. It's funny that if it had been a male protagonist doing these things, it wouldn't have seemed so out-of-place, but it bothered me because the person involved in the scenes is a woman. That really made me stop and think about the double-standards that exist in our society.
There are some gory moments in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, although this kind of thing is present in the previous games, as well. There are also some scenes that reminded me uncomfortably of the movie Apocalypto
, and although we are more removed from the savagery in this game than in the show, it's still disturbing to see.Verdict
This is what $60 games *should* look like, with the highest quality in every aspect of the production. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a cinematic experience, combining superb acting and immersive gameplay with the unrealistic-but-oh-so-awesome drama of your favorite blockbuster. Although there are some predictable story elements, the writers managed to surprise me a few times during the course of the game; something which I value highly. If you're looking for combat and non-stop action, this may not be for you, but it you love a compelling story, gorgeous graphics and exploring to get get every last collectible, you'll definitely want to give this a try! HIGHLY recommended!