Back in 2013, we began our latest adventure with Lara Croft as she was brought back to the forefront of gaming. This update changed the game making an unforgettable experience that took new inspiration from titles like Uncharted. This created not just a new look but a brand-new direction for the series. The new Lara was bred with an unbreakable will and all new skills. Putting those dual pistols away and making room for the bow we see today.
Shortly after in 2015, we were once again treated to Lara in Rise of the Tomb Raider, a sequel that only enhanced the original, granting new skills but keeping the core gameplay. Now in 2018, Shadow of the Tomb Raider has arrived. The third instalment in this new trilogy of games but how does it stack up to the rest of the series? And where does it fit into the gaming landscape?
Shadow brings a much wider gaming experience, turning the action-adventure into a more open-world experience. While this has been an aspect of previous games, this latest instalment has given us new features to make this experience just as entertaining as the story. The inclusion of side missions, marketplaces, and more tombs makes the exploration of Tomb Raider more entertaining than ever.
It seems most of the development for this title has been focused on the day-to-day activities but this gives the story a feeling of emptiness. You will find that the story will take you to these exotic places all of which feel unique. While this aspect is good it seems the story only pivots around these locations rather than adding to the story.
The story will take you into South America as you try to uncover the secrets of the Mayan empire. Lara stumbles upon a tomb that her rivals, Trinity (evil conglomerate), are seeking. Once inside, Lara removes an ancient dagger from its pedestal. She is quickly captured and meets with the leader of Trinity known as Amaru, who reveals that Lara has just triggered the end of days. At that moment the world begins to shake… Shadow of the Tomb Raider takes Lara on her last adventure (of this trilogy anyway) facing the literal end of the world in the only way she can. She will not only face the Mayan calendar but her family demons as well.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider continues the story of Lara and plays like a continuation. You begin this game the same as you did in Rise of the Tomb Raider with all your weapons and equipment. While each game was given its own skills trees Lara always keeps her equipment. These allow gamers to start the game with similar abilities to previous encounters. Most notably you have two climbing picks that you use to traverse the environments. These will be your most useful equipment throughout the game. You will spend more time climbing the walls of a tomb than you will beating bad guys.
While this is true for all three games, in this one especially you will find these tools ever so helpful. While traversing the environment can be enjoyable, I think Shadow takes it a little too far. Rather than giving us a variety of new areas to climb the game repeats the same mechanics seen already in the two previous games. Resurfacing again it just feels as simple as walking around. That being said there are a number of climbing challenges that feel really fresh and unique but they are few and far between in the overall adventure.
A lot of the mechanics from this title are the same as those seen already. From combat to climbing the only new additions to the game are the towns that you encounter. These are all full of merchants and side missions that don’t just entertain but bring the world to life in the best way. It becomes apparent that the main quests lead you to these locations rather than taking you on a new adventure. It seems that the developers wanted gamers to experience their world to the fullest. Not wishing them to move along with the story but to find a new way to experience this adventure heavy title.
Overall, Shadow is a very well designed game that will take gamers on another entertaining ride. While the game has new elements that give the world and the gameplay more depth, it still feels like a new Tomb Raider game. Shadow has the unfortunate quality of feeling like the next instalment in the franchise. While this isn’t a problem it does fall short next to titles like Spiderman or Red Dead that have come out this year. I do look forward to seeing what they bring to the franchise in the future but I only hope they give it more time and make it something special. For the fans of the Tomb Raider titles this game is worth getting your hands on but if you’re looking for a game that you’ll want to spend hours upon hours playing, this isn’t the title for you.