Shadow of the Tomb Raider Review

After being completely blown away by the original rebooted Tomb Raider of 2013, Rise of the Tomb Raider came along with improved visuals and up-scaled action pieces. Shadow of the Tomb Raider has come along to tie up the trilogy with a veteran Lara croft who has definitely been weathered into a darker and more aggressive version of herself.

There are many ways in which a player can tackle Shadow of the Tomb Raider depending on how you prefer to play. I often opt for a play through mainly focusing on the beaten path to complete the story, before venturing off onto optional side missions and the games Challenge Tombs.

The Lara Croft that you are in control of this time around is obviously more experienced in the world of raiding tombs, which means that she is able to hold her own in significantly dire situations. Shadow of the Tomb Raider definitely meets the brief of a hero living long enough to see herself become the villain. This time around I found that Lara Croft has become a character that has become significantly self involved in her situations where she comes off like a psychopath. As you progress through the game Lara becomes more and more of a killing machine and at one point becomes an absolute terminator, as she mows down enemy after enemy using super heavy weapons. This movement in the story allows for some exciting action sequences, but for a long time fan of the series, it felt like a massive departure from the Lara Croft character that I am used to and it didn't feel quite right. These sequences gave the impression that the creators were going for a 'wow' factor to blow the audience away, rather than trying to stay true to the character.

The third entry in the game series has the task of finishing up the 'Trinity is trying to take over the world'  story line and does so in a fashion that almost flat out copies what we've seen in the previous two games. You will find yourself playing through amazing set pieces that would make any top budget movie jealous, solving reasonably easy puzzles, and sitting through cut scenes that you wish you could be actually playing through, until you inevitably end up at a final boss fight that is less impressive than a mini boss fight from other less enthusiastic games.

I found the story side of Shadow of the Tomb Raider to be quite flat and uninspiring through the early stages of the game, to find that the dark undertones and serious action really ramps up towards the middle to the end. Some may argue that this is how most good stories unfold, however the middle section and ending of the game reared its action oriented head way too soon. Playing the game following the story missions only, granted me only 9.5 hours of game play. It's too short. Before I even realised that I was nearing the end of the game, I was prompted by an on screen warning that I was entering the final stage of the game and that fast travel would be deactivated for this time. Sadly, the end was near and it wasn't very good.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider definitely got the new coat of paint that clearly takes advantage of the extra power of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. The visuals are beautiful with colours that really show off how beautiful the exotic locations are within the game. Unfortunately, that is where the good impressions ended. The controls were overly sensitive and often resulted in what looked like the movements were in fast-forward for the sake of making Lara more responsive to controller inputs. Animations felt rushed and at times looked as if they had been hand animated, as opposed to being motion captured. On a good note though, I previously complained that Rise of the Tomb Raider removed the hard hitting death animations from the first game, and I guess so did a few other people because they're back in full swing this time. Make a wrong move and Lara is going to find death in some brutal ways including being spiked through the face.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider IS a good game, but it wasn't a GREAT game. It feels like it was taking lead from the game it aspires to be, however it falls short in emulating what we've seen in other high impact action games.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider has introduced a lot of new abilities for Lara to traverse her way through uncharted lands, however they've become so advanced beyond the previous games that they're now coming across a little too far fetched even for a video game. Hanging upside down using two hand held climbing axes and spiked footwear some how gives you the ability to jump horizontally upside down across surfaces you can't climb on. It's like the developers decided to just say "Why can we do this?...Because it's a video game, that's why".

I didn't hate Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but this review almost feels that way. My negative views on this one stem from the way that I generally felt about the game. I expected much more from the game, but my expectations definitely weren't met. The characters that Lara meets through the game feel like they're throw away meetings. I didn't feel that their relationships were forged well enough for me to care whether or not they lived or died. The character development just wasn't there.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider gave me a Lara Croft that I felt was a crazy, psychotic murdering bitch with her head firmly jammed up her own ass. There were some fun set pieces in there but way too few combat sequences. The combat that was there forced the stealth approach way too heavily by simply taking Lara's weapons away from her, leaving her with only a knife. 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider felt like it was rushed out the door and was missing so much to the story line and game play. To get your money's worth out of this game, you better spend your time in the Challenge Tombs and take your time exploring the beautifully crafted landscapes. Don't do what I did. You will regret it.

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Aussie Gamers Express
1st October 2018

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