Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a game I had much anticipated and had high expectations for. It was released on the 14th September 2018 and is played from a third-person perspective. The game has been published by Square Enix and developed by both Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is primarily an action-adventure game with stealth elements and is the third entry to a revitalised franchise. Tomb Raider is an extremely well-known franchise with a vast amount of video games, comic books and movies, with protagonist Lara Croft being an iconic heroine, and the Tomb Raider games had set the standard of the action-adventure genre when the original game was released in 1996 on the PlayStation One.
The Next Chapter in Lara’s Life
Shadow of the Tomb Raider follows Lara Croft on her latest adventure of saving the world from an evil corporation. She aims to find out what happened to her father and why whilst saving innocent people, taking down the organization known as Trinity and facing some moral dilemmas. Shadow thrusts Lara to step into the title of Tomb Raider, and it forces her to grow as a person and become stronger.
At the beginning of the game, which is set two months after the events of Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara is off travelling with her friend and companion, Jonah Maiava. Lara and Jonah are following leads in the fight against Trinity when their journey takes them to Mexico, where they follow a member of Trinity to find out what they are after, which is a hidden city. From there, Lara ends up finding an ancient dagger that sets in motion cataclysmic and apocalyptic disasters. She takes the dagger, aware of these life-threatening consequences, to keep it out of the hands of Trinity. Lara’s journey then forces her to find a way of stopping the disasters and stopping the end of the world whilst continuing to fight Trinity.
Similarities and Differences
As with the more recent Tomb Raider games, you have multiple weapons to use, pieces of equipment to take you to the furthest reaches, costumes that can give strategic enhancements and the use of natural resources found within the wilderness. These more recent Tomb Raider games force you to be quite savage in a modern world. Shadow of the Tomb Raider does bring some new changes to the table, however, that involve a hell of a lot more swimming and a short but sweet exploration of parts into the infamous Croft Manor.
Lara Croft Becomes the Tomb Raider
In the original games, Lara was very confident, so much so that whenever she faced a powerful enemy, she would provoke them by making comical and sarcastic comments to them. Lara showed she wasn’t taking herself too seriously, and she was sure that she would achieve her goals. In the newest additions to the franchise, Lara is extremely serious. It seems that Lara is still finding herself as a person, and there is only so long that this can be drawn out. Don’t get me wrong, I am very much enjoying the Tomb Raider games, and I adore them. I only mention it because I hope that the future holds a game where Lara is comfortable in her own skin. I want her to enjoy herself a little whilst she controls a situation.
Credit has to be given where it is due, and Lara is a lot more confident than she was in the two previous reboot games. She is confident as a killer, and this is reflected in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but she does not flaunt her confidence as the original Lara would.
Attention to Detail
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is not without its faults. There have been times during the game where bits of the landscape are missing as the environment starts glitching. I could be stood atop a hill, and underneath Lara’s feet there is a blank space. There are typical glitches like this throughout the game, and I have found that these issues have been ongoing throughout the series. I would have expected issue like this to be fixed by the release of a third game in a series. These issues are quite common within large open-world video games.
Another issue with Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the lack of notification when there is a secret or collectible nearby. For a very long time, whenever you were close to a secret or collectible, a little tune would sound. Any Tomb Raider fan would know this tune well and would agree that it is sorely missed. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, there is no such notification. This forces the player to constantly use Survival Instincts to root out the secrets and collectibles. I have found this can ruin the visuals of the surroundings as it makes the world turn monochrome with colours used to highlight collectibles and resources. The way to avoid this issue is to find the map for each area that reveals the secrets and collectibles, but these are not always a walk in the park to obtain.
Lara Croft’s Darkest Shadow
The greatest thing about Shadow of the Tomb Raider is how intense it is. The game is extremely dark, and Lara seems to suffer quite a bit as she has done so far and as she has grown stronger. All of the injuries she endures make her more realistic as a survivor. There is a great strength within Lara that cannot be deterred, and this creates a huge emotional connection between her and the player.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider pushes Lara to her limits and beyond with new dangers thrown at her. She must kill to survive and does not get the opportunity to think about whether it is right or wrong. Sometimes Lara cannot go around an obstacle and must instead go underneath it, or I should say, swim underneath it through the water. There are many scenes within Shadow of the Tomb Raider where Lara struggles for breath. She could be trying to push through a claustrophobic and confined space or trying to fight off a deadly underwater eel. In those moments, you feel yourself on the edge of your seat holding your own breath with Lara.
You Only Live Once
Is anybody else sick of Lara’s father dying? I am not going to give away any spoilers, but this has changed once again. There are so many stories around Richard’s death, and I am now not sure what to believe. I understand that they had to involve her father in some way because one of the reasons Lara fights so hard is to understand what happened with him and for some level of revenge for her family. I think my favourite story was that Richard had died trying to find Amelia (Lara’s mother). Richard thought Amelia was still alive and stuck in Helheim. When Lara got there, her mother was a walking corpse. I just wish that the whole Tomb Raider franchise would stick to one story around Lara’s family.
Overall, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a fantastic addition to the series. I have enjoyed playing it very much as it is ripe with adventure and exploration. The optional tombs are quite challenging to complete, and the story pushes Lara to her limits and beyond. There are a couple of issues with the game, but this does not take credit away from how great it is. It is definitely the darkest and most powerful of the recent games, and it portrays Lara to be quite serious but unstoppable.
Lara Croft is an icon and famous heroine. When I was a little girl and playing the original games, I always dreamed that I would grow up to be her. There were times when I was young that my dad would let me stay off school “sick”, and I would play Tomb Raider for hours, and my dad would be there with me reading what to do next in the game from a printed-off walkthrough. Tomb Raider, as you can see, has had a huge impact on my life and was a very big part of my childhood. To see these games reimagined and revived in a different way has been an absolute privilege to enjoy. I just hope that there are more stories to come.
Developer: Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Release Date: 14th September 2018