Hello and welcome to my Review for Shadow of the Tomb Raider a game I have been waiting for, for so long and now that it’s finally here it’s even better than I could have imagined. There’s a lot to talk about with this game so let’s not waste any more time and get straight into this.
Final Part of a Trilogy:
Shadow of the Tomb Raider has quite a lot on its plate because it’s not only a self-contained Tomb Raider adventure but it’s also the final game in her new origin trilogy and lucky it manages to succeed in both aspects incredibly well. I’m a huge Tomb Raider fan so I love this game wart’s and all and it does have some problems that show through but luckily they aren’t too big or distracting. This is the closest we’ve ever seen this version of Lara come to the classic version of the character and that’s clear from the start. She’s a seasoned adventurer by now and so there’s very little set up needed before we can jump straight into the action. This game probably has the highest stakes we’ve seen from the trilogy and has the most amount of time dedicated to Lara personally and her backstory and for that, it should be congratulated because it made the overarching story feel both grounded but very extravagant in true Tomb Raider fashion. The ending definitely left me wanting more, not is a “Is that it?” kinda way but more in a “Okay so where we off to next” sort of way and I’m sure after a short break we’ll definitely see Lara Croft make her return. Overall Shadow of the Tomb Raider story was just as enjoyable as the previous two games for me. I can’t choose between them because I love them all so much but it was certainly the darkest out of the 3 and I really loved taking a look at Lara’s darker side in more detail.
Lara Croft and Camilla Luddington
Like I previously mentioned Lara Croft is the closest here to the original we’ve seen from this Trilogy and I think that’s one of the strongest parts of the game. There’s very little set up needed at the start and plenty of time to get stuck in. However, that being said there is still truckloads of Character development in this game for Lara and Shadow of the Tomb Raider had some of the strongest moments emotionally for Lara from the entire series.
Camilla Luddington knocks it out of the park once again here and her excellent performance is a big part of why Croft feels so real and relatable. Despite her saying this may be her last outing as the action heroin I suspect when we eventually get a new game in the future she’ll be on the short list of voice actors to call up. I will say whilst she does feel closer to the classic incarnation I would have liked to see just a little bit more of that peak through. 5 years later and she still doesn’t use those damn pistols but like I said I doubt this is the end of Croft’s story so die-hard classic fans might just have to wait that little bit longer.
Whilst Camilla and by extension Lara are the clear stars, the supporting cast of characters does a phenomenal job. Earl Baylon does a great job as Jonah, a character I’ve really come to adore throughout these games. He really felt like the perfect chalk to Lara’s cheese here. Carlos Leal is the main villain Dr. Dominguez and considering the character is more complex than most villains in this series he plays both sides of him really well. The modern military Dr and the passionate savior of Paititi. His performance was great and elevated the character above of someone like Rourke, played by Carlo Mestroni who whilst enjoyable felt a little more like the same old same old.
So before I break the gameplay down I have to quickly talk about this games unique difficulty setting. Rather than choosing easy, medium or hard, you select what parts of the game you want to be harder out of combat, traversal, and puzzles. This is great if you don’t want to slog through difficult combat encounters but want to challenge yourself with the puzzles. These changes are not only noticeable but on harder difficulties downright drastic and they make playing the game on its hardest difficulty a real challenge which you should probably prep for before attempting.
Traversal is as fluid and fun as previous games and is actually utilized a little more in key story moments and puzzles which I’ll get onto later. New additions like Wall running, repelling, and overhead climbing not only spices up some of the larger traversal sections of the game but again gives it that more classic Tomb Raider feel. I never had any problems with the traversal whilst playing and when bumping that difficulty up to hard and wiping that classic white paint away it not only made some of the puzzles that little bit more challenging but it makes the whole experience that much more immersive.
A big complaint of the series is the lack of in-depth and truly challenging puzzles, well in Shadow of The Tomb Raider that’s no longer an issue. The puzzles are easily the best out of the trilogy both in the main story and additional challenge tombs and are some of the biggest and most extravagant we’ve seen to date. They are also easily the hardest out of the 3 games. Now don’t get me wrong I was able to complete them all eventually, and I am a certified moron but I got stuck way more than previous games, however, it never came off as frustrating but rather even more immersive and enticing.
Combat and Stealth
I want to talk about the stealth mechanics quite a bit here so I’ll quickly wiz over the actual gun to gun gameplay which honestly feels more of the same from the previous games. That’s not a bad thing because I’ve always loved the gunplay of Tomb Raider and if you’ve played the previous games you know what to expect here, although I will say the addition of more guns and more ways to unlock those guns such as in hidden chest or side missions rewards did make the whole system feel more fleshed out.
Now stealth is fantastic in this game and on the harder difficulties is absolutely necessary. New additions like hanging enemies from trees using rope arrows or covering yourself in mud, predator one style and hiding in the jungle foliage made you feel like more of a badass and it also made pulling off huge stealth takedown combos way more satisfying. Encounters with higher amounts of enemies now feel way more intense and items like smoke bombs or distractions feel more essential here than in previous games. If you’re one to take a stealthy approach Shadow of the Tomb Raider has a lot to offer but if you’re more of a runner and gunner it’s got more than enough to cover you as well.
Graphics and Sound
This game is absolutely gorgeous. The lighting is perfect and helps to set the atmosphere whether you’re in the undergrowth of the South American jungle, the bright and vibrant city of Paititi or the literal path to the underworld the game always looks fantastic. Plus this game has some of the best facial animations I’ve ever seen both in cutscenes or in regular gameplay. The sound design in this game is fantastic too and when you hear growls or screams echo throughout caves it sounds as if your completely surrounded by enemies and up’s the fear factor straight to an 11. Playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider with a decent pair of headphones is a must for a completely immersive experience and I’m playing on a regular ps4 so I can only imagine how cool this thing would look on a ps4 pro or high-end pc.
This game feels like the most fleshed out of the trilogy in terms of additional content. The classic letters, relics, and challenges all make a return of course, but now we have more secret treasure to find which actually requires some in-depth exploration of the world plus we have multistage cinematic side missions which feel a cut above those in Rise of the Tomb Raider and the rewards they give feel worthwhile. We now have more intricate crypts to explore as well as tombs and the all-new outfit system where you can mix and match what Lara wears and craft new armor by hunting animals for pelts was seriously cool. These all have bonus effects which feel substantial and was a nice extra layer of strategic gameplay added as you have more control of your ultimate play style. Plenty to keep you going in between finishing the main story and starting your new game plus.
Surprisingly Shadow of the Tomb Raider had more technical difficulties than I would have expected or liked. Some stealth finishers didn’t work as intended, the occasional miss jump cost me a restart here and there and at one point I even fell through the world due to a small hole in a cave and from what I’ve seen on youtube others are having similar issues. It was never enough to ruin my experience but I expected a little better from the third game in the series. Maybe I just got unlucky a couple of times but a small patch to iron out these issues would be much appreciated.
Overall Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a phenomenal game. It makes great advancements in gameplay, looks and sounds absolutely gorgeous, and has an incredibly emotional story which wrapped up the trilogy nicely but was still very much its own thing. We’re getting more challenge tombs and side missions in the upcoming DLC which should offer some story enhancements so we’ll have to wait and see what story beats we get then but for now im more than happy to replay this insane adventure all over again in New Game Plus. Guys thanks for checking out my Shadow of the Tomb Raider review, if you enjoyed be sure to hit that like button and follow the blog as well as my Twitter to stay up to date with the latest articles and news updates.
If you want to check out my video review of Shadow of the Tomb Raider you can on my YouTube here