Shadow of the Tomb Raider Review

Posted September 10, 2018 by Kyle Simcox in Video Games

Developer: Crystal Dynamics/Eidos Montreal

Publisher: Square Enix

Release Date: September 14th, 2018

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we catch up with Lara Croft as she’s hot on Trinity’s trail. In her attempt to beat them to punch, Lara accidentally kick starts a Mayan Apocalypse and it’s up to her and her good buddy Jonah to keep Trinity from finishing what she started. The story is pretty much on par with what you can expect from any of the recent Tomb Raider games. Our hero braves many dangerous tombs while fighting off hundreds of enemies and blowing up a lot of shit in the process to stop a world ending catastrophe. With that being said, there are some fantastic set pieces Lara will be running, jumping and shooting her way through. The only thing that holds these moments back are the game’s mechanics that occasionally break the flow of the action and slow Lara’s momentum.

Well that’s not ominous…

Returning players will feel right at home as Shadow of the Tomb Raider evolves upon everything it’s predecessor’s brought to the table. Lara is just as deadly as you’ll remember her and more, learning more ways to blend into her environment and become a more lethal predator. Shooting your way through things is always an option but stealth is a much more rewarding experience. Slathering Lara with mud to avoid showing up on a Trinity soldier’s thermal goggles while you hide in a thick brush, waiting for him to come close enough for you to ambush him with Lara’s makeshift knife and drag his corpse into the bushes is extremely satisfying. Lara has a rather enormous list of skills she can earn to make her an even more efficient bad ass. Eventually, Lara can chain together stealth kills or use her “Survival Instincts” to pinpoint an animal’s heart for easier hunting. While most skills can be unlocked with skill points, others are earned by completing tombs and reaching certain milestones in the story.

Upgrading Lara’s gear is of course essential to surviving so expect to be hunting down loads of animals and scavenging for whatever you can. A lot of attention was given towards creating a fun world to explore with quite a bit of verticality in mind. Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal have saw fit to fill every nook and cranny of the Peruvian Jungle with all sorts of things to do. From various environmental challenges, documents that expand the game’s lore and maps that will help you seek out those harder to find collectibles, there are a ton of things to do and find. On top of all of those things, crypts and tombs have returned as well and in greater numbers. Another neat little detail I noticed was that the developers have seen fit to remove the “trails” that have been featured in both Uncharted and Tomb Raider, for more subtle environmental cues. Outside of major story related areas and tombs, not every path is marked with an obvious indicator that provides an obvious answer on where to go next.

The hidden city of Paititi is ome of the hub cities you’ll visit.

Like the last two games, Tombs are large puzzle filled challenges that more often than not, manage to take on a life of their own as you seek to solve their puzzles and get to the reward at the end. Crypts are basically mini-tombs that reward you for getting to the end with vestige clothing that Lara can craft and wear to give her an edge. They come in two pieces and players can mix and match them to meet their specific needs. One top may protect Lara from bullets and arrows giving her more survivability in a gun fight while another may reward you with more resources while you’re scrounging around for crafting materials. I enjoy a good stealth experience so I kept her equipped with stealth gear and boots that gave me more experience for stealth kills… right up until I found a cooler looking outfit and went all “Fashion Raider”.

Another cool new feature are the hub cities where Lara can interact with the locals to learn about points of interest, purchase new gear and resources from merchants and pick up side quests to do. While the quests do seem to have the same basic structure of going from point A to B and talking to someone for your next objective, you can tell great care was put into making sure they didn’t all feel the same. For example, one quest simply had me talking to people around the village while another had me saving tourists(and ultimately the town) from a local band of pillagers. They actually help you feel more immersed in the world and that you’re helping them with rather important tasks.

Lara is a deadly predator, especially in the jungle.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider runs pretty great on the Xbox One X and it looks absolutely beautiful. A lot of attention to detail went into crafting the Peruvian Jungle. One of my most notable experiences is when I was swimming into a tomb and a school of fish swam into a shaft of light before Lara got too close and caused them to scatter. The light lit each of the fish up revealing a lot of the detail put into the fish that I simply couldn’t see before while I was in the water. I did run into some issues though like frame rate stuttering and screen tearing. Switching my setting over to prioritize the frame rate however, completely eliminate the issues I was having. There’s also a decent photo mode but I found it to be pretty limiting, especially compared to Spider-Man’s fantastic photo mode.

While Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s story hit plenty of familiar beats, it provides a more than fitting end to Lara Croft’s origin trilogy and it does have one adorable surprise in store for players as well. There’s plenty of reasons to go back and play through the game and there’s even a New Game Plus mode at your disposal as well. I absolutely cannot wait to see more of her adventures in the future. No matter which platform you choose to play it on, you’re in for a gorgeous, action filled romp through the Peruvian jungle that’s well worth your time.

About the Author

Kyle Simcox