Monday, September 10, 2018

"Shadow of the Tomb Raider" Review

Five years ago, developer Crystal Dynamics reinvented one of gaming's icons by scrapping just about everything that came before and reimagining Lara Croft as a younger, more vulnerable and experienced adventurer who got by on her drive, creativity and resourcefulness.

Now three games into the revitalized series, "Shadow of the Tomb Raider" finds Lara as a seasoned explorer, benevolent thief and confident adventurer more akin to her persona in the older games and films. Thanks to the groundwork put in place by the previous two games, this new iteration of Lara seems more grounde, realistic and sympathetic. She now stands alongside Nathan Drake in terms of relevance and precision.

The game tells a stirring tale of Lara meeting her destiny, determined to derail the efforts of the notorious Trinity, while determined to avoid succombing to the temptations of bowing to self-indulgence and wanton destruction that her newly-honed powers make possible. To defeat her enemy, she fears she may risk becoming just as nefarious.

The dev team makes the most of the game's jungle setting, taking cues from the likes of "Far Cry" and "Uncharted" in developing and establishing a sense of place. Utilizing the resources at your disposal, you scrape your way through the enemies and obstacles in your face by culling together minimal resources and dispatching adversaries with stealthy fair. A smattering of quick-time events make for occasional distractions, but don't take away from the momentum.

As strong as the previous two games were, "Shadow of the Tomb Raider" manages to dwarf them wth confident verve and flair.

The tombs are larger, more elaborate and more integral to the story than those of the previous two games. Combat is engrossing and refined. The voice acting and cinematic storytelling are revelatory triumphs.

Much has been said of "Shadow of the Tomb Raider" being the capstone of a trilogy, but the game feels more like a beginning than an end. Lara Croft will continue to reign as the queen of adventurers, and this game is the material on which her thrown is built. All future iterations of the character will draw from this superb trilogy and its resonant finale.

Publisher provided review copy.

No comments: