Shadow Of The Tomb Raider is the third game of the most recent reboot of the Tomb Raider video game series. The game comes developed by Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics, but is published by Square Enix. Shadow Of The Tomb Raider is currently available on PC, Xbox One and PS4.
When first seeing the early trailers for this game back when they first started appearing on the web, I was quite excited about the game. This current Tomb Raider series is actually one of my favourite video gaming series’ in recent years. The first Tomb Raider was excellent back when it was first released and Rise Of The Tomb Raider did a lot to build on the foundations of the first game in a much better way. So with this third Tomb Raider game, my expectations were undoubtedly quite high.
In many ways my expectations were certainly met and in some ways they maybe weren’t. I’ll detail a few reasons why and a few reasons why not.
The thing that you will notice and many people notice about Tomb Raider games is the graphics. With each game in this series, or even as the last few years have went by and Tomb Raider games were being released, with each release came an enormous expectation and many marketing presentations about how great the new game in the series looked. With Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, many would have noticed the many videos littered around the internet by NVIDIA marketing people about the new ray tracing technology and its use in Shadow Of The Tomb raider.
I must say that the graphics in this game are exceptionally good. I played through the entire game on PC and marvelled at appearances, shadows and textures in the various levels in the game. I’ve seen the game running on both Xbox One and PS4 as well and it’s quite good looking as well. But I chose PC this time round (previously played Tomb Raider on PS3 and Rise of The Tomb Raider on Xbox One) as I was keen to see how far I could push it on my machine. I would say though, for the PC audience that you do need a fairly powerful gaming PC to play this game on the highest settings and resolution with a high frame rate (60+), but could do well on the lower-medium settings with a lower end build.
Another plus of Shadow Of The Tomb Raider is the excellent musical themes and sounds within the game. Much of the levels will have you listening to a variety of dramatic melodies as well as more quieter themes and some scarier tunes. There was a good balances of these tunes throughout the game and at times, the musical pieces really did add to the atmosphere of playing inside a very tribal jungle environment.
The gameplay in Shadow Of The Tomb Raider has been improved and tweaked quite a bit since the last iteration. You will be doing a lot of swimming, with a variety of levels requiring Lara to dive deeply and for long periods. There’s also a lot of climbing and new rappel down abilities which help Lara to reach new areas she couldn’t before. I actually did really enjoy the climbing aspect of this game, there’s quite a lot of it and while it wasn’t always easy to see where to go, timing the jumps at times was a challenge.
Additionally, compared to previous titles in the series, Shadow Of The Tomb Raider does rely much more on stealth and Lara can do more stealth related things such as covering herself in mud so she can’t be seen so easily and also hiding in walls covered in mud or shrubs. The stealth section was quite good, but often times I found the areas where you needed to stealth to be not large enough for me to get around enemies to flank them or to approach the same area differently each time. As the stealth areas were quite narrow in their layout I often found myself just taking down enemies one by one and simply moving in a straight line from one bush to the next as I did so.
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider also allows you to yet again use Lara’s various weapons to get through enemies, which include a bow, assault rifle, shotgun and handgun. While I do enjoy the action mechanics quite a lot in this game and in the franchise in general. I felt that in this game, there just wasn’t enough of these moments and when they were there, they weren’t big enough moments. In many ways Rise Of The Tomb Raider is the better action game, whereas Shadow Of The Tomb Raider is stronger in exploration, puzzles, stealth and climbing.
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider also utilises a levelling up system where Lara can learn new abilities. But the way it was laid out and the rate in which you unlock things wasn’t too useful. The abilities themselves are good, but often times I found myself not really needing much more than what I had. The bow was enough at the beginning of the game to keep using it all the way through it. In addition to this there was also a bunch of traders you could speak to, who you can trade with for various in game items and resources. This was okay and in theory it’s a great idea. But throughout the game, I had picked up so many things that my inventory was always full and I never really needed to buy anything. The lack of action in the game also meant that my bow was always ready with a full inventory of arrows, I never felt low on resources once.
The story of Shadow Of The Tomb Raider is a little bit hit and miss. In some parts it’s quite good and taking the game into the jungles of South America gave this game in the series a unique setting and feel to it. While the game starts off strongly and the story is quite intriguing, especially as you start to explore Paititi with Lara. For some reason the middle section of the game really does drag on. You start to get involved in the local politics of the natives and to me it seemed all a little out of place and Lara’s character didn’t seem to fit in well with all of that. Luckily though, the final third of the game is quite excellent and once things start picking up again it’s a complete joy until the end.
The story did shine in certain parts and there was a lot of work put into developing the Lara Croft character. There’s certain moments where you explore Lara’s childhood which give a great perspective into the younger Lara Croft and in the game Lara deals with some very dark issues regarding her own actions and that of her friends. Overall, there were some truly great Lara Croft moments in Shadow Of The Tomb Raider.
The voice acting in Shadow Of The Tomb Raider is quite good. Camilla Luddington who voiced Lara Croft is a great standout. Her performance in this is one of the best in the series and she’s now completely embodied the Lara Croft character. It’s hard to imagine the next Tomb Raider game without that distinctive voice, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we have Camilla back on again voicing the character. Unuratu was also a well voiced character, her voice was from Patricia Velasquez who some may know from her work in The Mummy Returns (2001). There was also some good work from Earl Baylon who voices Jonah.
Overall Shadow Of The Tomb Raider is a decent action adventure game to have in your collection. The game has some really great things going for it such as its graphics which are amongst the best in gaming in 2018. It also has some great voice acting from Camilla Luddington, Earl Baylon and Patricia Velasquez. The music is excellent. The stealth gameplay as well as the swimming and grappling mechanics are nice additions to the franchise. Shadow Of The Tomb Raider’s main plot is quite intriguing and is strong in the beginning and in the end, but does get bogged down quite a bit in the middle section of the game. With regards to the plot though, I did appreciate the effort put into developing Lara Croft as a character and Shadow Of The Tomb Raider did have a lot of very strong moments which Lara went through that do add quite a bit to the character. This is decent action adventure game to consider buying this year, fans of the Tomb Raider franchise likely don’t need much convincing to go out and get this one and they’re the ones likely to enjoy this game the most.