In 2013, Crystal Dynamic set out to bring Lara Croft back to a place of being a fan favorite character. The adventures of past games hasn’t been explosive and some titles were laughably bad. When they decided to refocus on Lara Croft and her adventure for the reboot, they wouldn’t know that they found gold and the richness of sales from the excellent gameplay and design they merge together. Their follow up, Rise Of The Tomb Raider, left players in awe with the vast improvements in the gorgeous backgrounds, exploration of tombs, and great story and character development for Lara. Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, developed by Eidos Montreal, retain what makes it a Tomb Raider game that brings the reboot trilogy to a close.
Lara and her best friend, Jonah, are once again on a expedition to stop the organization Trinity. Lara starts out trying to obtain a dagger before they get their evil hands on it, seeing that this dagger leads into more problems and even the apocalypse that might befallen the world. As events happen, Lara becomes the center of things and with it taking its toll on her, things do get heavy.
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider has familiar game play mechanics while offering two new abilities. You have mud stealth, where Lara places her self in mud and hides on grassy walls, waiting to attack the enemy. There is also her hoist ability where she’ll pull a enemy up to a tree branch and rid them while she comes down. These two give you more strategic ways to lower the chance of having a full on gunfight.
Speaking of gunfights, the balance between bows and guns are vastly unbalance. Guns do way more damage (which should happen if you think about it) which makes using arrows worthless unless you got some special attacks for the arrow. You can still poison them, put them on fire, and even make them hallucinate so they can attack their fellow mates and then die after it wears off. Melee attack is still a swinging motion but sadly, you have to buy the ability to counterattack and it takes a long time to get there.
The Skill tree has vastly improved in Shadow. Skill points are awarded every time you level up and complete a tomb. Separate in three parts, you can focus on Warrior, Seeker, and Scavenger. Each will help you survive through the journey and depending what you level up more, the other 2 may hinder your progress if not planned right. Some skills need 1 point while the max need 3. One thing to be aware of that some parts of the Skill Tree are locked by tombs so you must raid them if you want to get everything on the board.
Another element that is new to the game are costumes and parts you can buy and receive through side missions. Each have their own effects and yes, you still need to hunt to make some of the costumes so keep an eye on the animal icons on the vast map. The animals you hunt are not much but you’ll likely fight panthers or wolfs and you’ll easily use the same tactics to defeat each. You’re later given the ability to have a focus to see and fight them easier so once again, get those ingredients ready to craft.
With this gorgeous jungle landscape you’ll most be in, the caves, tombs, and small environments looks crisp and scary with the deadly contraptions and enemies to fight. One of the major flaws to this is lack of direction. The hint of white lines are less detail and the areas you climb on sometimes look like the background of the area your in. What also doesn’t help is the lighting. This game is too dark which forces you to push the brightness up close to full. That ruins the beautiful colors of the water and the greens of the jungle and makes some of the hub cities look drab. It takes away the pop that Tomb and Rise shared and delivered well.
Of course, there’s set pieces galore. You’ll be running and climbing while Trinity does it best to destroy you. Once you learn what to do, you’ll be able to get through it on a second playthrough. Yes, prepare to die through some of them due to lighting and timing. Other than that, its run of the mill Jewel Of The Niles nonsense at times but engaging.
The tombs in this game are massive. They will challenge you and you’ll have to be quick for some parts. It can take 7 to 10 minutes to solve and at times, you’ll have fights in some of them while trying to complete them. It’s entertaining and a rush. Once again though, Rise still has some of the best tombs. Shadow continues that legacy.
Collectables everywhere, spot on controls, deadly tombs, piranhas and eels trying to kill you, stealth action, and more makes Shadow Of The Tomb Raider a satisfying conclusion to Lara’s adventure. With only one boss fight, you’ll spend about 20 hours just on the main campaign. Add in another 15 for tombs, collecting, shopping and crafting, and replaying sections and you’ll have a experience you’ll never forget. Sadly, Rise Of The Tomb Raider edges over this game but if Eidos Montreal wants Lara to be on another adventure, I’ll pack my time up and be ready to go on it. I’ll just have to bring some lighting to see where I’m going.
4 out 5 Yoshi Coin’s