Shadow of the Tomb Raider Assessment

The newest idea of ​​the new Tomb Raider is the floating of a question: what if all of the grave robberies Lara Croft carries out indicate that she is a treasure looting idiot that ruins other people's cultures and, worse, their lives ?

Despite the umbilical-looking self-reflection that implies this question, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is not a bleak buzzkill. It's fun and beautiful and a long adventure full of fun Tomb Raidery things. It builds on the strong traditions of the 22-year-old franchise and uses most of the same exploration and combat systems that were introduced when Tomb Raider restarted in 2013 and refined at Rise of the Tomb Raider in 2015.

Once again, go to an exotic location, climb and solve puzzles through graves, ruins and enemy installations. Once again, you're dealing with a combination of platform, puzzle solving, exploration and combat, usually sneaking around with a bow and arrow before alarming a security guard and moving on to a real shooting game. Once again, you'll step up Lara Croft while earning more experience points and virtual gold to spend on new skills, outfits, and weapons.

But maybe this sequel invites players to think, all the snatching away of the hidden artifacts of other cultures isn't the most elucidated cause.

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lara Croft ventures from Mexico into the Peru jungle to escape a fanatical Christian militia called Trinity and search for artifacts that could trigger the end of the world. Trinity, an evil and well-armed secret society, are the main villains in the franchise's new chronology, which started with the restart in 2013. Croft's excesses in the hunt for buried treasures are often due to the fact that they too chase the thing in question, often with the plan of using it for shameful purposes. The fact remains that Croft snatches a valuable item from a grave at the start of the game and triggers a death catastrophe. Her best friend Jonah tries to assure her that it's not her fault, but his words sound wrong. The fact remains that when Lara Croft falls into town, things break. Damn, half the time she's the one waving the hand ax.

The question of Croft's moral legacy is asked during much of the game, mainly in cutscenes. This can also be seen in the many conversations she can have with ordinary civilians, whose villages and hidden cities are lucky enough to be on the dotted path to their next desired treasure. It is unusual enough that the game fills its world with people to talk to, which significantly expands the players' ability to take a break from exploring the jungle by going into town and encouraging scripted conversations. It is even more striking that some of these people and Croft themselves have doubts about the virtue of their trade.

"It is a shame that you are not a tourist," says Croft early on about a woman in a small Peruvian town who had already been ravaged by an oil drilling company. “Tourists bring money. Archaeologists take it easy. "

Later in the game, Croft travels deeper into the jungle and discovers a small town called Paititi that is full of people with their own problems and opportunities. At this point, it appears to have become more aware of its potential to cause collateral damage. "I didn't foresee any of this," she says. "I was expecting an old place – artifacts, graves – that I just couldn't imagine … people. I was so focused on clues that I wasn't even surprised. I didn't want to get involved … but Trinity is here. "

Players can change the game's default language settings so that more locals speak their own languages: mainly Spanish or Yucatec Mayan. You can turn on subtitles to get translations of non-English-speaking characters on the periphery of the game cities, or stop them from enjoying the local dialect and feeling like an outsider.

The abundance of normal people on Lara Croft's latest Trek makes the difference in this game compared to its predecessors. There are sections of Shadow of the Tomb Raider where Croft explores the Peruvian jungle on his own, immerses himself in tombs and crypts, and swings through some of the most lush video game landscapes I've ever seen. These stretches will be most familiar to those who played the previous games, but Shadow begins to establish its own identity when Croft arrives in town and chats with the locals.

In the impressive, huge hub of Paititi there are farmers and housewives, shamans and merchants, rebel leaders and children, each with stories to tell. Few of these people are hostile to this white British woman who has left the foliage with a pistol on her hip. Some are at least careful, others are skeptical. Many also strive to share their own hopes and burdens. At the push of a button, players can listen to them and maybe lend a hand.

All this chat is not required to play the game. It is optional and serves as a subtle representation of how little it is required in real or virtual life to listen or understand before you grab the object you want. The makers of Shadow of the Tomb Raider have improved the systems for conversations and offer a number of mostly non-violent side tasks in which the citizens are involved. However, they make them skippable for those who want to focus on digging into graves, shooting the paramilitary bad guys, and following them through the main story of the game. However, players who only do these things will miss seeing a Lara Croft who is more of a listener and helper who may be able to get as much out of a stranger's story as she could find a buried gimmick.

There is at least a couple of hours of this additional material, some of which are split into 13 optional side quests that offer many of Shadow's best moments, at least for those who will be happy with well-written character interaction. A late conversation with a blind man offers a particularly elegant insight into Croft's character and is also completely overlooked.

For those who skip civil interactions, or even those who don't, the good news is that the Shadow of the Tomb Raider climbing frame is largely a step further than the already extremely enjoyable climb. There are a few more graves in this, more explorable crypts, harder puzzles, expanded underwater sequences, and even some improved stealth combat options that are used for a welcome, slight reduction in combat in favor of a more classic exploration.

Players who went through Rise of the Tomb Raider in 2015 will find a lot of well-known material in Shadow. The plot is a sequel, as Trinity and his leaders have been following Croft for several games, and it became known in the last game that they were responsible for their father's death. Croft's moveset is largely the same as in the previous game, although Shadow respects the time of the seasoned players and does not force them to learn new techniques, e.g. B. Shoot an arrow across a gap to form a zipline. Old traversal moves are there from the start, although very few new ones are added as the game progresses. The design structure is also the same: players traverse a number of neighboring regions filled with lore, loot, story missions, and optional graves, and can still save over dozen base camps and travel quickly.

Some of these similarities may be due to the fact that Shadow wasn't made by Tomb Raider's main team at Crystal Dynamics. While this studio supported development, this new game was largely developed by Eidos Montreal. Due to the size and level of detail of the game, it doesn't feel like a lazy production or copy, but it is clearly based on an existing foundation and rarely deviates too far from what has already been established.

There are tons of skills to unlock, some with skill points gained through experience, others through progress in history or by completing the game's optional challenge tombs.

The game differs from the previous two in that it focuses more on the interactions between Lara Croft and other people, increases the number of lore, tombs and crypts, and plays in Peru, although the jungle environment turns out to be a minor strain. The scenery is beautiful, but Shadow of the Tomb Raider is yet another action adventure in a jungle with several Tomb Raider and Uncharted games in front of it. The graves of this game are scratchy enough, especially if the clues are disabled, but in general they lack the architectural flair that could make them particularly memorable. The tropical setting is ultimately unsuitable for the aesthetic distinction and geographic ingenuity of Rise of the Tomb Raider's less-explored Siberia. There is no grave in Shadow that is half as striking as Rises ship trapped in a frozen waterfall.

More than its predecessors and similar adventures, Shadow of The Tomb Raider is what players make of it. In addition to its plethora of optional, character-defining side talks and side adventures, Shadow gives players unusually detailed control over how difficult the game is and how much careful observation and exploration is required to make progress. Players can customize three sliders with difficulty. They affect the toughness of the fight against enemies, the number of clues that the game gives when Croft tries to solve the puzzles of a grave, and the extent to which the environment of the game is colored with clues as to which strips and branches are used Climbing can be used. The latter is a revelation that removes the traffic signs that often make traversing action-adventure games like this an act of following instructions instead of paying careful attention. Players who remove traversal clues and the game's other tools will be forced to pay more attention to their surroundings, look and understand, rather than just driving through. (For even more immersion, players can switch the default language of many supporting characters from English to their mother tongue, be it Spanish, Yucatec Mayan, or Nahuatl.)

Rise of the Tomb Raider's expedition mode, loaded with microtransactions, doesn't return for Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This time, the developers are offering a seasonal pass that allows players to try out variations of existing challenge graves like the one above and get a new grave every month from October to April.

With the game's difficulty controls set to medium or low, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an exciting ride on a budget. It flies by in a blur of cliffs to climb, cross abysses, pull levers, and avoid death traps, along with a series of high-speed action sequences in which villains or natural disasters run and get out.

With a higher combination of levels of difficulty, everything is focused more sharply. This usually benefits the game. It changes from a temporary distraction to a welcome test of the mind and navigation in the midst of a visually stunning environment where you swing around mountains, dive through subterranean rivers and cling to muddy walls to silently jump onto passing militiamen.

A higher level of difficulty improves the exploration and combat of the game. Tombs filled with riddles become chambers where you have to examine each crack carefully to find out how to get there. You can no longer assume that Croft will mumble hints about the solution if you are at a loss for too long. The battle isn't that challenging, even when it's selected, but at least at higher difficulty levels, it requires careful handling of stealth and forces the player to experiment with many of Croft's dozens of unlockable character skills. Unlike other newer Tomb Raiders, encounters with human enemies are extremely rare. The most common enemy is the wild Peruvian environment, where more aggressive animals live. You can improve your bow and weapons, but fair warning, arrows and bullets don't help with piranhas.

The game's thoughtful script is undermined by the word games used in the titles of challenge missions and achievements or trophies. Feel the pathos of people whose village has been ravaged by an oil company. Shoot a red barrel to activate a barrel shooting challenge. Save the father of a sad little girl named Hakan and get the trophy "I think Hakan is flying."

The slowdown to play the game more carefully and methodically supports the idea of ​​a Lara Croft who realizes how much she tramples when she raids a grave. It is of course still a game that is not really about destroying real cultures. Regardless of how players play Lara Croft as a more sensitive adventurer, many of the game's most thoughtful elements are weakened by the appeal of traditional, high-budget video games. For example, many of the above conversations with civilians create new symbols on the map. The reward for listening to someone is not really their story, but the identification of something new that needs to be tracked down. Even nonviolent side quests about helping people unlock new weapons, or in a strange case after an older woman seriously shares a life philosophy with Croft, the discovery that she is a high-ranking trader. Push a button to see what she sells: Oh, just a machine gun, a laser sight, some equipment, and some ammunition. She didn't seem to be the type.

And despite all the sensitivity that the game's writing on the nature of caving in caves in other countries can convey, the game is filled with graves littered with prey that is all too easy and tempting to learn. Here is a sacrificial table halfway through a grave. There is a pile of jade on it. Should you press a button to pick it up so it can be sold to a retailer for better outfits with playful benefits? Who can resist That seems like the best way to continue and win. This is the danger of making a game that questions the morale of tomb raiding while still being a tomb raiding game. At least they raised some questions and gave the players some leeway for role-playing.

One of Shadow's marketing points is the return of underwater exploration. It's nice to have it in the game, but it doesn't add much to the fun.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider begins with a powerful suggestion that Lara Croft should feel guilty about the way she does things and the unintended effects she has on the lives of innocent people. This unconventional beginning creates an adventure that creeps, jumps, and dives in many fun and interesting ways. It eventually transitions into a more conventional second half, which feels like the culmination of every Tomb Raider game and drops every second guess at Croft's mission as it delivers some exciting final scenes. This part is good too, just not that unusual and against the guy.

With all adherence to the series dogma, a good bit of Shadow of the Tomb Raider feels incredibly fresh. Amidst a familiar environment and mechanics, it invites players to explore a familiar type of story in a different, more thoughtful way. It makes a difference whether you listen to people, especially when they speak their own language. It makes a difference whether you care about their stories.

In this Tomb Raider, Lara Croft again shows signs of renewal, not as the gritty survivor we met in 2013, but as a more complex figure who actually talks to the people she meets on her travels and understands the severity of her actions . Many come to Tomb Raider games to experience adventures and escape, visit beautiful places, and solve confusing puzzles. There is plenty of that in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. It all depends on how much or how little you want to dig and how much you want to play as Lara Croft.

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