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Shadow of the Tomb Raider Review

Lara Croft's defining adventure, making her the Tomb Raider.

Written by Gregory Allen III on September 26th, 2018.

After many years of excruciating patience, Square Enix has finally released Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This final installment of Lara Croft’s origin trilogy was developed by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montéral. Square Enix started this reboot series with Tomb Raider (2013) which received amazing reviews, followed by Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015). The story continues to follow our protagonist Lara Croft through more of her adventures, picking up two months after the events of Rise of the Tomb Raider. She now is exploring Peru with her best friend Jonah, searching for the hidden city of Paititi. However, she mistakenly unleashes a Mayan apocalypse and must work to stop it before the Earth comes to an end.

Concept art for the start of the Mayan apocalypse.

Anyone who has played the previous games is very familiar with the series’ style of combat. A balanced mix of action and stealth is one of the best ways to dispatch your foes. However, Shadow of the Tomb Raider ensures there’s a play style for everyone. The game introduces a new progression system resembling a type of skill tree with three styles of play highlighted. The Serpent Path is for those players who aim for stealth and ghosting by enemies above all else. The Jaguar Path is for the combat thrill-seekers, specializing in facing enemies head-on and hunting animals for crafting resources. Lastly, there is the Eagle Path, which is much less a combat style than a play style in my opinion. It focuses around being able to move through the environment swiftly and carrying more resources than normal. Those resources can then be used to sell to merchants, upgrade your tools and weapons, or craft outfits and ammo. The currency system is something that was explored lightly in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Shadow of the Tomb Raider takes hunting, foraging, purchasing and selling to the next level that has been absent from this series.

Lara also has her standard four weapons from the previous games — her bow, pistol, shotgun and assault rifle. From my hours of experience handling the game, the weapons feel as though they have been modified from the previous games. I personally always used the bow in the previous games, only using the other weapons when required. However, Shadow of the Tomb Raider makes no weapon feel like it’s a clear choice over another. The bow excels at silence and swiftness. The assault rifle is meant for mowing down enemies that may be moving too fast for precision. The shotgun no longer feels like it’s firing slug rounds, requiring the enemy to basically be hugging distance from you to be very effective and not waste shells. The pistol is a nice alternative to the bow given its new features that are acquired through upgrades.

Lara taking aim from camouflage with her bow.

This third installment also expands on the quest system from the previous games. Instead of having very few side missions with a limited tracker, Shadow of the Tomb Raider now dedicates an entire tab on the map to track side quests, which are now plentiful. As the game goes on, there is a noticeable difference in the difficulty of enemies and puzzles. You’re forced to think and use all of your tools. Lara’s character progression is somewhat basic, with simple skill purchasing using points. These points are acquired through gaining XP or completing tombs, crypts or challenges. The skills you purchase are enough to give you an edge, but you’re not invincible; enemies will continue to destroy you if you become too cocky.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider comes with several options for difficulty. This makes it easy to have both a story and challenge playthrough. Players can also choose different combat styles as mentioned before to try on different attempts at the game, adding a lot of diversity. Shadow of the Tomb Raider ships with a new game plus option as well. After beating the game once you can play through it again with all of your abilities unlocked from your previous playthrough. Enemies will be extraordinarily more difficult to fight, along with some other changes that further increase the difficulty of the game and attempt to make the environment work against you. There are also challenge tombs available from the main menu. I have not explored these myself yet, but if they are anything like Rise of the Tomb Raider‘s Expedition mode, they add lots of skill-based challenges to the game. In addition, the developers have monthly DLC releases planned for those who own the season pass starting in October.

Stealth takedown of an elite enemy.

Visually, the game is stunning with more than enough detail put into the environment. There are some things you probably wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t specifically looking for them in photographer mode. The rig I play on runs a GTX 1060 3GB and I was able to achieve a smooth 60 FPS on medium settings. The graphics still looked better than many other games in my library. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is also one of the first games to show off Nvidia’s new RTX series technology — Ray Tracing. The only way to experience this new shading technique is to get your hands on one of Nvidia’s new RTX cards, the RTX 2080 or RTX 2080 Ti. As far as sounds and audio quality go, they are what you would expect from a triple-A title. The voice acting and sound effects are all very pleasing to the ear and nothing sounds truly out of place. At times my game sound did get slightly choppy. Although, after looking at recordings of my game it looks to be the CPU of my gaming PC at fault. For more prepared rigs, there should not be any issues. Moving onto how the game feels, the controls are very familiar and did not take much adjusting to. However, as Shadow of the Tomb Raider added its new features, it also needed new buttons which were poorly binded to the F1-4 keys by default. Being on PC, you can simply change your key binds so it is not a huge issue.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider has been building up its momentum for a long time now, and it has been worth the wait. From the future DLC releasing every month starting in October to the brand new mechanics of the game, it has taken a decades-old series and brought it a new feel that hasn’t been accomplished before. Whether you have been a long time fan of the original Tomb Raider games or are just joining the craze with this latest installment, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an amazing modern experience that’s worth seeing more than once.

 


Final Rating

Graphics: Stunning graphics and design that makes the game feel very real.

Controls: Familiar controls for those who have played the previous two games. They are easy to learn.

Developer Support: With a patch already released and monthly DLC, the game will likely be supported for a good amount of time.

Replay Value: New game plus along with different styles adds a lot of different ways to play and replay.

Gameplay: Taking the old combat system from the previous games and adding new twists to it, making it feel fresh.

Final Rating: 9.5/10. Shadow of the Tomb Raider has been building up its momentum for a long time now, and it has been worth the wait. From the future DLC releasing every month starting in October to the brand new mechanics of the game, it has taken a decades-old series and brought it a new feel that hasn't been accomplished before. 

9.5
Whether you have been a long time fan of the original Tomb Raider games or are just joining the craze with this latest installment, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an amazing modern experience that's worth seeing more than once.
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About The Author

Hello! I'm Greg but online I'm often known as StarkiSama-sama. Right now I'm currently a junior in high school, and I don't have much of an idea of what I want to do with my life yet. My favorite activities would have to be playing video games, watching anime and experimenting with PC hardware. I also create videos on YouTube and live stream on Twitch.

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