Games of the Year

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

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Experience Lara Croft’s defining moment as she becomes the Tomb Raider. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lara must master a deadly jungle, overcome terrifying tombs, and persevere through her darkest hour. As she races to save the world from a Maya apocalypse, Lara will ultimately be forged into the Tomb Raider she is destined to be.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

MY REVIEW OF THE SHADOW OF THE TOMB RAIDER GAME
In South America
The most significant difference that always characterised each Tomb Raider episode: the change of location. My preference is with the colder climate (this also means that this episode omits the Endurance mode) but it is always nice to see how a new location can affect gameplay. Areas with battle now allow Lara to go back into hiding by bathing in mud. An interesting concept - I particularly liked how she could move along the wall out of plain sight due to the overgrown flora.

Trinity
The bad guys return and Lara now encounters a leader called Pedro Dominguez. It is nice to add a face to Trinity this time and Pedro actually knows more of Lara than she thinks. Cutscenes are amazing with the usual high-quality voice acting on everybody's part and there is increased focus on Lara's childhood and father this time. There are a couple of twists here an there - as usual later on a new form of enemy appears to make the story more exciting. This alone does not make the plot totally different so the creators decided to include more peril by choosing artifacts with great power. Let's just say that Lara's race against Trinity has time factored in.

Gameplay
You know how the developers add new elements even when it is not necessary. Gameplay in the previous two instalments was fast and dynamic enough. Still, there's new gear, of course. Overhang climbing is now possible with the use of special boots. I think this feature was unnecessary and thank god no puzzles were based on this. Grappling down from cliffs, however, is a nice new addition.
We find all sorts of materials - beside upgrading our weapons we can craft pieces of clothing. Upper and lower body pieces are available but we can also acquire full body outfits. These add bonuses so getting dressed before a fight we can decide if we intend to aim for a more stealthy approach or go full guns blazing by putting on something that gives Lara health regeneration. And, naturally, we can give Lara the "old" look by applying skins from previous games (this is a purely cosmetic choice here).
Other than these small changes or additional stuff gameplay mechanics remain the same. I liked the inclusion of air pockets during underwater sequences which made it possible to increase the time spent in such areas. Once again Lara can decipher various monuments (her language skills increase gradually) and there are tons of relics and letters to be found out there. You'll return to previous locations by using the camp system several times just to get that 100% completion.
Graphics appear to be enhanced once again; I cannot comment on the latest RTX technology but everything else looked stunning as usual. Two more small adjustments done to walkthroughs: there are difficulty settings we can choose from but they are broken down into various elements we can adjust separately. Additionally, there is a possibility to make immersion better by allowing the NPCs to use their native language instead of English.
Longevity
What else to say about Shadow of Tomb Raider? Another great entry in the series where there are more and much bigger tombs. The DLCs also focus on these extra challenges. The hub area we visit appears to be greater and there are many side missions to complete. It's worth investing time into these as getting the rewards will make Lara stronger. There is a New Game+ mode available with additional skills we can purchase only during this second walkthrough.

I had fun with the latest instalment. The puzzles were sometimes annoying (oh boy the one in the church was just awful!) but gave me a good challenge, nonetheless. Of all 3 episodes this one has the most interesting story and definitely the most satisfying end game boss battle.

Review from Steam

In 2013, Crystal Dynamics completely reimagined Lara Croft when they rebooted the Tomb Raider franchise. This new Lara is untested and vulnerable, and has yet to become a bonafide, globetrotting tomb raider. It was a daring move, but it paid off. Her vulnerability made the players more invested in her survival and skill progression. That carried over to the sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, in which we the players further shaped Lara into a more capable and confident adventurer, survivalist, and tomb raider.
Given what came before, many fans don’t just have high expectations from Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we also have emotional investment in seeing Lara’s quest and transformation through. We want to be along for the ride when she stops the Order of Trinity, and -- in her own words -- makes the right difference with the world-changing secrets that she uncovers. So did Eidos-Montreal, who took over developing duties from Crystal Dynamics, deliver the goods with Shadow?
Well, sort of...it’ll depend on what you like most about the Tomb Raider franchise.
Where Shadow truly delivers is tomb and crypt exploration. This game has the most amount of tomb raiding in the trilogy, with plenty of platforming and physics puzzles to solve. In a few tombs and crypts, you may even be surprised by short, at times frustrating combat sequences. You’ll surely get your fill of tomb raiding in the standard version of Shadow, and much more if you purchase the Definitive Edition. Regardless of which edition you buy, you’ll feel that Lara’s transformation into a tomb raider is complete either way.
Shadow continues to round out Lara as an empathetic character through her in-game dialogues with non-playable characters, especially with Jonah. Her friendship and moments with her peers are highlights of the Survivor Trilogy. She may be more proficient in her craft with each game, but she still relies on her friends for emotional and moral support. This Lara is indeed the most fully realized, grounded version to date.
At the beginning of Shadow, Lara tries to stop Trinity by retrieving an artefact before they do. In doing so, she sets off a series of cataclysms that haunts her for most of the game. Shadow shoots itself in the foot by asking whether or not Lara’s tomb raiding causes harm to the cultures and civilizations she encounters despite her intention to do good. This is indeed a good question worthy of reflection and discussion, but one that the game doesn’t answer definitively, or isn’t ready to answer. After all, Shadow is a game about tomb raiding.
It’s also bothersome that as Lara struggles with the consequences of her actions, she continues to loot nearby tombs and crypts, and snatch up resources in places she visits. This happens despite the indigenous population talking about the harm pillagers and outsiders do to their communities. This level of ludonarrative dissonance is alarming.
Consider this: if retrieving the artefact triggers the cataclysms, they will happen whether it is Lara or Trinity who gets it first. The writers didn’t need to make Lara the instigator of misfortunes. Shadow could simply have been a game about Lara’s last stand against Trinity without the pretentiousness. The developers dug themselves into a hole in their vain attempt to make Shadow feel deep.
Thus, the biggest problem with Shadow is that the gameplay doesn’t align with the story. I do like the idea of Lara struggling with the consequences of her tomb raiding. It adds depth to her character and makes the story richer. It would have been great if the game lets draw my own conclusion about Lara’s actions and act on it. Imagine making tomb exploration mandatory, but looting optional in a Tomb Raider game! (Looters and non-looters will be treated to different in-game dialogues and game endings.) This approach would not only address Shadow’s ludonarrative dissonance (at least partially), but also make the game unique within the franchise, and more replayable.
Anyway, even if you ignore the developers’ clumsy execution of lofty ideas, it’s hard to overlook the imbalance in Shadow’s gameplay. When I think of the Tomb Raider franchise, I think of a mixture of tomb raiding and combat. There is surprisingly little of the latter in this game. Even when there’s combat, it’s not as fun and exciting as what we got in Rise. A good portion of Shadow is focused on exploration, interacting with the locals in towns and cities, and being offered side quests. This game is definitely the slowest-paced game in the Survivor Trilogy.
Overall, Shadow plays more like an adventure/exploration game with spots of action/combat here and there. Coincidentally, with Eidos-Montreal (developer of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided) at the helm in the game’s development, it does feel like Deus Ex at times with its emphasis on exploration over action. With Tomb Raider games being more action-oriented and faster paced in general, Shadow definitely could have featured more action/combat in spots, and could have offered stealth option in others. At the same time, there are more collectibles in the game than I care for. Though optional, scouring various corners of each hub for documents and caches can slow the game further.
As a whole, Shadow feels like a game with an uncomfortable identity -- almost like a light, ill-fitting Deus Ex game in a Tomb Raider mold. Yet, this game is too small for big ideas, and sociocultural or philosophical musings. Major Tomb Raider games have always been action-focused, and attempts at making Shadow more intellectual than necessary simply fell flat.
With a little more time and polish, Shadow could have been a great, and possibly thought-provoking action adventure game. Unfortunately, what we ended up having is a game with its parts not fitting together very well. It is a fun game, with great tombs and crypts to explore, and a really fun photo mode that allows you to capture Lara against spectacular backdrops. Thus, I will recommend this game, though certainly not without apprehension. This is definitely one of those games that you should wait for a sale before buying. Besides, for those of you who have already played 2013’s Tomb Raider and its sequel, wouldn’t you want to see the trilogy through to the end anyway?

Review from Steam

Not Great, Not Terrible
The third, and so far last, installment in the Tomb Raider Survivor Timeline fails to impress. While it's certainly a competent game and enjoyable to play, I think it falls pretty short compared to its previous titles. Let's go over some pros and cons.
Pros
1. Graphics. Lara Croft especially looks fantastic with the game world looking great too. The physics are also notable if not incredible.
2. Music. Tense, spine tingling and anxiety inducing, the music is a great accompaniment to the somber environments and action packed moments.
3. Gameplay and progression. Lara can become an absolute monster and can destroy entire platoons with the same sadistic enjoyment that a kid gets when plucking out the different parts of an insect.
4. Native languages. It's super commendable that the devs went out of their way to record voice lines with people who actually speak the local languages. I definitely wish more games did this but not exactly in the way Shadow of the Tomb Raider does. More on this in the Cons section.
All in all, the core elements of the game are solid. The issues with Shadow of the Tomb Raider becomes apparent when you explore other things.
Cons
1. Worldbuilding. The entire premise of the game, involving the migration of a certain ethnic group to another part of the world, is ridiculous. Either one of these civilization would have a wealth of history and culture to explore on their own and mixing them together, frankly, is kinda insulting. It's like the devs think that the player wouldn't be able to differentiate them.
2. Story. Weak villains, weak supporting cast, weak plot. I honestly never really understood anybody's motivations beyond menacing buzz words like "remake the world". The main antagonist, Dominguez, shows up in the first 5 minutes of the game and is retroactively assigned to have been responsible for every bad thing that ever happened to Lara. That's some seriously lazy writing IMO.
3. Character models. The game has just a few dozen character models in a world with hundreds of background characters. Expect talking to the same person A LOT.
4. Bugs. I've had Lara fall off or fail to grab on to things quite a few times. When you're playing on the hardest difficulty, this can be especially aggravating.
5. Tombs. Tombs in the previous games had a certain believability to them. Like, you can kinda imagine that someone could actually build this. Tombs in this game are like Rube-Goldberg machines. They're so insanely mechanically complex that they feel less like tombs and more like amusement parks.
6. Stupid NPCs. There's a section in the game where Lara puts on a disguise and pretends to be a local priest. The fact that everybody is fooled by this little white girl is genuinely laughable. It's even more jarring if you turn on native languages. Everybody's talking in their own language and Lara comes in speaking English and nobody bats an eyelash. There is NO suspension of disbelief in this game.
7. Too many collectibles. I've played 38 hours. At least HALF of this was just gathering collectibles.
Conclusion
At the end of the day, I'm OK with giving this game a thumbs up. All the core elements are there and the gameplay is definitely fun. It's just unfortunate that the change in devs (from Crystal Dynamics to Eidos Montreal) led to a drop in quality in so many things. I genuinely hope we get a sequel where Lara FINALLY becomes the Tomb Raider or at least a different, fun reboot.

Review from Steam

Laura Croft is hot
Press like if you agree

Review from Steam

im gay for lara croft

Review from Steam

epic schizo british woman becomes and kills god, trolls mexico with some light genocide, and then overthrows a central american tribal nation
15/10 very stupid i love it

Review from Steam

Shadow of the Tomb Raider focuses on platforming puzzles and exploring instead of prioritizing combat over everything else. I welcomed this "classic Tomb Raider" focus, and Shadow is definitely my favorite of the New TR trilogy. It's got plenty of problems though - some of them very large.
Size on hard-drive: 36GB
+ glorious graphics
+ A LOT more archeology.
+ More puzzling / platforming, less combat.
+ Stealth gameplay is much more viable than in previous games (see below, though)
+ And for those worrying about "Sjws are getting hold of our favorite franchises!", don't worry, Lara is still attractive.
+/- Rpg-style sidequests. Kind of an odd inclusion, and it does make the sandbox feel more alive. All of the quests follow similar patterns making them a drag if you're not completely invested in the world and the fate of the people in it.
+/- A lot of mechanics & animations are re-used from the previous two games. Don't mess with success I guess.
- The conclusion of the whole Trinity plot line feels forced. Like the devs realized, "Oh sh*t, it's the third game of the trilogy, we gotta wrap this up quick!" Lara's journey is satisfyingly concluded, but don't stop to think too much about the details.
- While Lara has a few really bada** moments, she's still breathlessly apprehensive and telling herself, "I can do this." It was fine in the first game. It was meh in the second. This is the third game and it's just trite.
- I wanted more platforming & less combat, and I got it, but now there's barely any combat, which isn't what I wanted either.
- With a few exceptions, stealth environments are small / claustrophobic, and the window to remain stealthy is VERY small. Those exceptions - where the stealth environment is big and open with multiple paths - everything comes together for an amazing experience. But there's a handful of times that happens. For the rest, stealth is incredibly annoying / near-pointless.
- No flashlight toggle. The auto-flashlight (Lara turning the light on and off) is badly bugged and rarely works as it should. Had to massively boost Brightness to compensate.
- Dropped inputs results in unnecessary fails
- auto-rotating camera results in unnecessary fails
- Lara's VA, Camilla Luddington, is good in key moments, but sounds bored / flat for 75% of her lines. The in-game journal entries are some of the worst.
- Lara repeats the same vocal cue every time I use the "tomb raider vision." Sometimes I know exactly how to progress and I just want to explore an area before moving on. Annoying.
- Better have a good cpu. My Ryzen 7 2700 (8 cores, 16 threads) was loaded to 65% in Paititi.
- Radeon users beware: Freesync is bugged with SotTR at high resolutions - it causes major microstutter.
The saddest thing about Shadow of the Tomb Raider is that there are parts of the game that are 10/10, legendary excellence, and you can see that this game COULD have been one of the greatest of all time. But then you have the rest of the game tagging along with its plethora of boring side missions, dropped inputs ruining the platforming, and stealth that you'll almost never use.
7/10 but could have been even better.

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