Reviews - Updated on April 11, 2022

When I proudly declare that “I don’t play games,” people rightly ask: “How can you, you bastard, talk about them then? Where is the expertise from? It’s a shame you weren’t with me for the special screening of Shadow of the Tomb Raider where they let you through the first four hours. All the Moscow press gathered there came to a more or less general conclusion that games in general are changing much more slowly than we would like. So, what’s new in the final part of the trilogy?Shadow of the Tomb Raider game review

Nothing

Globally, this is the same game as previous Tomb Raiders. We explore a pseudo-open world, select all kinds of icebreakers to hit hard-to-reach ones, shoot at opponents with a bow, fight with partridges for valuable feathers, return to the camp, set fire to the fire and upgrade our abilities. Graphics are better, but not fundamentally. Direction, presentation, style – everything is the same, despite the change of screenwriter and development studio. The arrival of the development of Eidos Montreal should not affect much at all: in an interview, they explained to me that the director of the first two parts of the game was still in office, so the whole trilogy is a holistic vision of one game director.

Croft is a cold-blooded assassin

The authors pay a lot of attention to the key art, emphasizing that it is possible to see the deep essence of the game on it. Lara is no longer a “survivor”, as in the first parts, now she “knows how and confidently practices.” The key change of the heroine is the masterful use of the environment, the transition from the victim to the predation.

The action was moved to the jungle to give the girl more toys for practical use: she can become invisible near walls overgrown with thickets, smear her face with mud for greater secrecy, drag enemies like Batman into the trees. True, in all this predation, in four hours I globally did not feel any differences from the previous part – but ideology is generally an ephemeral thing.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider game review
Perhaps the game is revealed after the introductory hub. In it, all meetings with enemies are strictly linear, but the authors separately note that for the first time in the series, the player will be provided with a hit & run scenario, when, having got involved in a fight, you can run back into the jungle, get lost, and then attack again.

Underwater cities appeared

In one of the announcement trailers, you could see how the city was washed away by a terrible tsunami (spoiler – Lara caused it herself). This gives rise to the best action section of the first four hours, and also a wonderful and amazing level in the flooded city. As the bananas float off the store shelves, you slowly swim in the moonlight through the cash register of a small store and turn into a bus, pushing things in the way and smashing the rear window with an ice pick. Unfortunately, there is much more beauty around than oxygen for research.

In the future, we will be given to study the flooded ruins. It’s beautiful there too. In the best traditions of absurdity, instead of guards, piranhas patrol the space, biting to death in a collision. Moving between the air pockets, you get a full-fledged exploration episode: the authors emphasize that scuba diving is a very developed aspect of the game. There’s even stealth algae!

Shadow of the Tomb Raider game review

Acrobatics got bigger, higher, harder

In order not to climb three parts of the same thing, Lara wrapped herself in a rope that allows her to climb down from the walls, swing and run left and right. Does this change the overall dynamics of location exploration? More verticality appears in the puzzles, but in general this is just an additional movement in the assortment, and the mechanics have not changed globally since Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

Although there are still differences with the previous parts: the authors claim that they made the acrobatic sections more complex and non-obvious (not noticed), and the jumping mechanics were greatly changed (unfortunately!).

All the players noted that the heroine began to behave very inappropriately in flight: due to too flexible control in the air and not quite an accurate reaction to the direction, after the jump you can turn in the wrong direction, run into an obstacle and catapult into unpredictability. However, once you get used to having to hold the stick firmly in one direction until landing, it generally ceases to be a problem.

Lara is a bad girl

As I mentioned above, Lara managed to drop a magical tsunami on her head, which destroyed the entire city along the way. First, it’s not very heroic of her. She will definitely think about her behavior (see remorse). We are given to feel all the hell that the girl plundered: trying not to die in the apocalypse, we panicky climb a collapsing building and see how a boy falls out of the fifth floor window into the water. Along the way, sobbing and asking for mom.Shadow of the Tomb Raider game review
The heavily darkened tone is an important part of the new game. After the flood, we are waiting for at least another earthquake.

Blood, thorns, crushed

The changed mindset, for example, will make trials and tombs a lot more fun: if they used to be more about exploration and riddles, now they are about how a snag is trying to crush your skull. Very dirty, full of bloody traps, the dungeons are supposed to feel like the “very bottom” of the universe. Which, of course, is again more of a stylistic decision than a gameplay one.

Since puzzles have become more dangerous, the authors have the opportunity to dance with difficulty: now you separately choose the level of difficulty of battles and separately – plunder. If thinking is not about you at all, then you can set up simple tombs, and Lara will begin to pronounce each next step, and “instinct” will highlight the next important object. But the traps will still try to show you the maximum death animations of the heroine!

Shadow of the Tomb Raider game review

Eidos highlights

Eidos = Deus Ex. The developers themselves are not shy about this association: the emphasis in the new part promises to shift towards social gameplay. Merchants appeared in the hubs, money in the pockets of the killed terrorists (previously it was not such an important part of the overall management). Weapon blueprints, exclusive revolvers, common consumables like arrows – anything for your marauded.

In addition, the game will be enriched with “meaningful” side quests. For the virtual world, they are significant, because Lara will be able to solve the pressing problems of local residents, and for the player this is important, because some quests will cling to others, open up new stories, point to new treasures, locations, routes. In other words, if you are insensitive to the natives, you may miss a number of interesting locations.

And, of course, the characters are sure to be interesting!

Shadow of the Tomb Raider game review

***

Unfortunately or fortunately, of the seven points, the first remains the main one. If you’ve played Tomb Raider (2013), then you’ve already played Shadow of the Tomb Raider. It’s a slow evolution of the series that expands on all the good stuff and doesn’t try to solve any legacy issues.

On the one hand, this is great because Tomb Raider is by no means a bad game. Interesting, pleasant, with a bunch of mechanics and a fairly diverse gameplay, where stealth is organically mixed with action and exploration. It’s just that by the third time it has lost any element of novelty, the color scheme has become more brown, and the jungle does not look as intriguing and contrasting as the snows of the last part. I went through the first part five years ago, I didn’t even touch the second one, but the triquel still turned out to be absolutely familiar.

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