Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PC, PS4, XB1
Release Date: September 14, 2018
There was not much hype about Shadow of the Tomb Raider - be it due to the sub-par marketing efforts by Square Enix or because of the release date being too close to Marvel's Spider-Man. Despite that, I kept my faith in the game since I absolutely adored the previous two entries in the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise. Sadly, I felt nothing but disappointment ever since I inserted the disc into my console.
The game starts with Lara Croft exploring a cave looking for an ancient Mayan artefact. Midway through their quest, they get to know that the armed forces of Trinity are also in the same cave looking for the same artefact. Coincidentally, the two parties get to the artefact at the same time and an encounter ensues. If you have played Rise of the Tomb Raider, you are probably wondering, “Isn't that the opening act of Rise of the Tomb Raider?” I wondered the same, to the extent that I found myself repeatedly checking the box art to see whether I got the wrong game.
The game continues to shamelessly follow the footsteps of the previous game as Trinity manages to get their hands on the artefact, triggering a catastrophic earthquake that leaves hundreds dead. Lara Croft and Jonah then board their chopper and fly to a Peruvian jungle where they believe that a missing piece of the artefact can be found. In classic Tomb Raider fashion, the chopper crashes and Lara has to regroup with Jonah, fight Trinity soldiers and find the artefact.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a technological masterpiece in terms of graphics. The terrains, the foliage and water – all look gorgeous thanks to the improved lighting and shadows. The character models and animations, however, have not undergone much change and look almost identical to Rise of the Tomb Raider. The game ran smoothly in both High Performance and High Resolution modes on the PS4 Pro.
Unfortunately, the game falls flat in every other department. The soundtracks of the Tomb Raider franchise have never been quite memorable and the problem carries over to this game as well. The game is woefully quiet and I often had to resort to playing Spotify in the background.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is also by far the buggiest entry in the franchise. The developers did a very poor job of coding the parkour sections. Lara almost always fails to grasp ledges while performing jumps and falls to her death. A Tomb Raider game with glitchy parkour is as frustrating as it sounds and the issues were not patched at the time of writing this review. The most notable and game-breaking glitch that occurred during my gameplay was one where the objective marker led me into a cave with no exit. The marker disappeared immediately after I entered the cave and the game performed an autosave at that exact point.
The disastrous writing and the uninspired level design together put the final nail in the coffin for the game. Instead of coming up with anything new, the game continues to recycle plot points from the previous two games throughout its 13-hour campaign. The flashback sequences of Lara's childhood add nothing to the story and serve simply as filler content. The characters are very poorly written as their motivations are rather unclear and ultimately, the characters are so unimpressive that you will forget them while you are looking at them. The dialogues are also laughably bad.
Unlike what you would expect from an archaeological adventure game like Tomb Raider, the game features very few locations and consequently suffers from a severe lack of diversity. There is zero innovation in the set pieces and puzzle sections and they do not pose any real challenge or enjoyment to the gamer at all. The level design hits rock bottom when you are faced with a group of unarmed tribal people and you have to fight them using your gun. Ironically, this level is followed immediately by a level where you are unarmed and have to deal with a lot of armed Trinity soldiers.
As much as I want to say good things about the game, I cannot. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an uninteresting clichéd drag that tries too hard to imitate its predecessors. Not only is the game not worth the sixty dollars, I doubt if it is even worth getting on sale or rent.
Nony Khondaker is an introvert who complements his non-existent social life with video games, Netflix and a whole lot of ice-cream. Send him memes and cat videos to cheer him up at fb.com/NonyKhondaker