Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Game Review


INTRODUCTION:

Thanks to Crystal Dynamics and Square-Enix we were able to play the newtest game of the TR Series, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, a few days before the official release. In this newtest adventure, that will close Lara's origin story we will discover Lara's latest step, as she becomes the Tomb Raider she is meant to be.

PLOT:

"The game begins one year after Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara Croft,23, travels to Mexico with his friend Jonah and later, Peru, in order to stop an apocalyptic event... but ends up setting it into motion herself, accidentally killing scores of innocent people. Wracked with guilt, Lara blames herself for it. Rather than trying to survive, the game's theme is based around Lara making mistakes and facing the consequences; trying to make the world a better place and to understand her place in it. 
Trinity is once again involved, and Lara vows vengeance against the organization for what they did to her father, the archologist Richard Croft. This brings Lara into conflict with the leader of the High Council of Trinity, a man named Dr. Pedro Dominguez." 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider's story features pretty interesting points: you can explore more about Lara's relationship with Jonah and other characters,past and present ones, which i won't describe here, and of course you can go deeper in Lara's mind, searching for her will to become the Tomb Raider. Lara is more capable and determinated than ever to stop Trinity and this will bring to some consequences she has to face.
The plot features a similar structure from ROTTR one, but all the details, characters, features and situations make this game a completely new one from the trilogy itself.

DIFFICULTY OPTIONS:

Shadow of the Tomb Raider features a pretty new options for choosing level of difficulty:
While you can choose as always "Easy", "Normal" or "Hard" as standard options, you can now personalize your way of playing the game. You can now choose the difficulty of Exploration, Combat and Puzzle. Lara will lose her Survival Instinct ability at higher difficulties, while traversable ledges and the like will no longer have their telltale coloring and scuff marks, making the game more difficult and sometimes even more enjoyable.


GAMEPLAY FEATURES:

Shadow of the Tomb Raider features the same old mechanics of the latest two games in the trilogy, Tomb Raider (2013) and Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015), but this time Lara will handle new mechanics as the grapple use and wall running as well as swim in a more free way than the previous game, ROTTR: Lara can now fully explore underwater, finding hidden spaces, resources and sometimes hidden caves...but enemies are always a trouble, be aware to find eels and piranha and concentrate to hide underwater in order to not be attacked by them.


There will also be animal enemies that will guard places in the jungle, as ferocious Jaguars, be always ready!
Lara will be able to use the same type of asernal of the two previous games (Bow, Gun, Rifle and Shotgun, as well as Axe attack in case of real trouble). Stealth returns and is a big part of this game: Lara can now camouflage with mud so enemies can't see her while she is hiding in leaves-wall and bushes, as well as tree climbing.



As for the previous two games, Lara can attack and finish her enemies without been seen by the others, but this time things can change a bit: thanks to the huge enviorment and resources, Lara can now fabricate for example poison-arrows which can make the enemies brutal and confused, as well as special bullets for the guns in order to make more damage. 
Underwater survival is back and Lara can kill her enemies withouth beeing seen.
Another interesting part is the outfit combination: Lara can now combine different pieces of outfit which are each different for skills and have their own specialities and advantages.

TOMBS AND CRYPTS:

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider Tombs and Crypts are back, and are more dangerous than ever as they are filled with many traps and puzzles that can make Lara's way more difficult. They are unique in their way filled with a story and a background, as well as huge and amazing enviorments. Even the crypts are changed from the previous game, ROTTR: each crypt is now different in every way. Once you completed a Tomb, you recive a unique skill for Lara, as fast axe climbing or perception mode, which allow Lara to look for rare plants in order to upgrade her skills. Once you completed a Crypt Lara recives a new piece of up or down wardrobe in order to combine them how you want.


HUBS:

Shadow of the Tomb Raider features one of the most spectacular hub ever, we are talking about the Amazon Jungle, full of spectacular landscapes and views. Apart from the general jungle, Lara will visit two major hubs, which are Kuwaq Yaku and Paititi: Kuwaq Yaku features ordinary people full in peruvian culture meanwhile Paititi is pre-civilization who lives in a primitive way divided in two clans, one of which is the Cult of Kukulkan. In this hubs Lara can interact with people talking to them and recieving tips and hints, as well as secondary missions (as ROTTR) which can offer Lara new abilities, weapons or objects to continue her adventure. One of the features of the game is the "Immersion Mode" which consists in people to speak their Native Language for a more immersive experience. Important things in the hubs are of course the hidden tombs, crypts and places, but this hubs features some local merchants with which Lara can buy or sell things, as resources, gold, jade or plants in order to equipe well for the jungle enviorment. You can also buy new weapons which have their unique skills.


DOCUMENTS AND MONOLITHS:

During the game Lara can find various documents and monoliths in order to increase her knowlege of the place she is in. We can find artifacts, letters and testimonies of various explorers all read by Lara herself. We can also find monoliths that can increase Lara's Language Profiency in three different langauges, which are Mam, Quechua and Yucatec and hidden maps in order to know more about hidden treasures, challenges and new places.



FIRE CAMP:
The fire camp makes a return and is more organized than the other two previous games: you can unlock your personal skills in order of which category your gameplay suits: Combat, Exploration or Stealth. This time abilities are a little bit harder to unlock as you progress to unlock new abilities, you need to have certain and specific ones or more skills points in order to unlock new ones. Inventory and Fast Travel remains the same as the previous games.


NEW GAME PLUS:

Once a player has completed Shadow of the Tomb Raider, they unlock the ability to play through a mode with all-new features called New Game Plus. Here, the work they have done will carry over into the next play-through. This includes Skills, Weapons, Outfits, Equipment Upgrades, and Gear. New Game Plus also unlocks three new Paths that Lara Croft can master, each tailored to fit a particular gameplay style:

Path of the Serpent: features an emphasis on stealth and subterfuge. Players take down enemies using sound and decoys to sow chaos. Mud and camouflage lets players lash out before slipping back into the shadows.
Path of the Jaguar: features an emphasis on hunting and combat, focusing on agility and close-ranged combat via knife takedowns.
Path of the Eagle: features an emphasis on traversal and resourcefulness. Observe enemies from afar, scouting out to plan the next attack. Traverse with ease, attacking enemies from long range.

Each chosen path will unlock a variety of exclusive rewards that further compliment playstyle and gameplay. By selecting a path, players unlock mastery skills featuring a variety of unique new abilities. On top of new skills available, chosen Paths feature unique themed weapons and outfits.

PHOTOGRAPHER MODE:

Shadow of the Tomb Raider features an interesting and funny Photographer Mode:
You can now take your own screenshoots of the game while changing angles, light, saturations, filters and Lara's expression, in order to make her happy, sad, surprised, angry or disgusted.
You can now go and take a little photo with the cutie llamas you can find in Paititi!Let's now go deeper into the thecnical part of the game, analyzing graphics, music, cinematics, controls and gameplay:

GRAPHICS:

Shadow of the Tomb Raider uses the same graphic engine used for the previous game, ROTTR, but perfectioned and evolved. Characters and enviorments look stunning and making the game look more realistic than ever. There are many graphic options (i played the PC Version) , as ambient occlusion or RTX Lightning. I played a "beta" of the game but even if it was it, the game looked spectacular and i'm sure the day one patch will make the game even better and cooler for our eyes. Lara's model remains pretty the same as the previous game, ROTTR but more levigated and delicate. Jonah's model is completely changed and i like it even more. Motion capture is improved to make the expressions of all the characters (even secondary ones) more realistic.
Vote:9/10

PC Graphic settings

MUSIC:

Shadow of the Tomb Raider features the most beautiful soundtrack of the trilogy in my opinion. To intensify and to feel the game even more closer to you there is the use of particular tribal and South American instruments. The soundtrack is on point and never fails the moment. Lara's principal instrument is for example the violin, to express her feelings and emotions during her adventure.
Can't wait to have a listen to the full soundtrack once is available...you should take a good listen!
Vote:9/10
CINEMATICS:

The cinematics in-game are captured with the same graphic engine and there are no differences in graphics or lightning. So my vote remains the same as for the graphics.There is a little difference from the previous two games of the trilogy: this game features, as i noticed, three types of cutscene, in-game cutscenes, cinematics and the interaction cutscenes, where Lara talks with other inhabitants in the hubs i describe before, making this game a little bit similar to the interactive cutscenes of Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness.
Vote:9/10

In-game cutscene
Cinematics
Interaction cutscenes

CONTROLS AND GAMEPLAY:

Shadow of the Tomb Raider uses the same controls as ROTTR, apart for new controls and comands the gameplay is pretty similar to the others in terms of controls and gameplay , i didn't find important changes but the use of new controls and mechanics makes this game more special.
Vote:8/10

FINAL CONSIDERATIONS:

I really enjoyed playing the game Eidos Montreal, Crytal Dynamics and Square-Enix built and prepared for us. Tought the game is pretty similar in gameplay and mechanics to the other 2 games, the new mechanics, hub, characters and story make this game even more special,beautiful and enjoyable. Difficulty remains similar to ROTTR, tought "Deadly Obsession" mode is more organized and more difficult than ROTTR "Extreme Survivor" (i played a little session with this difficulty and it was so much Tomb Raider-ish) but the game is more equilibrate than ever, balancing Combat and Exploration in a very positive way. If you are looking for an old style Tomb Raider game during this generation, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the perfect answer. Combat is finally (as many wanted) the minor part of the game (there aren't many combat phases during the game, making this game more "ADVENTURE" than "ACTION", and this is one of the good points of the game), while story, characters and hubs make this game fully explorable. I'll surely continuing to replay the game in order to explore all the corners and know more about the background of the game.

FINAL VOTE: 9/10

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the final chapter of Lara Croft's origin story as she becomes the Tomb Raider. Be able to explore the hubs, know more about the story and characters of Shadow of the Tomb Raider September 12/14th, fox Xbox One, PS4 and PC!

Tune in September 14th for our Q&A about the game!