‘Tomb Raider’ exceeds some expectations, falls short short in other areas

“Shadow of the Tomb Raider” is the final piece of a three-game story arc rebooting the “Tomb Raider” franchise.

“Shadow of the Tomb Raider” is sporting some fine graphics and unique gameplay customization features not seen every day. But the main content follows a boring, predictable pattern, where you are railroaded from one conflict to the next. While some mechanics hint at a more open world aspect, the reality is that the game feels very restricting, especially within the first hours.

This is my first “Tomb Raider” game. The trailers, graphics, and hype on Reddit made me fairly excited to play. Unfortunately, the game’s shortcomings have shaped my opinion pretty early in the game, and I’m not sure if I even want to finish the story.potential cutout

One of the most annoying issues with gameplay is the time it takes to open menus. It’s good to take quick glances at the map often. I might be being nit-picky, but I would prefer some emphasis on “quick” glances instead of waiting four seconds or more.

The graphics in this game are top tier. The graphic designers did not only focus on how voluptuous they could make Lara Croft using current generation graphics, but they also put a lot of time into the graphics of the world Ms. Croft explores.

“Tomb Raider” offers many places to explore, including three bustling city-hub areas, each with its own atmosphere. The detail put into each marketplace, road and alleyway, coupled with the way the non-player characters move and interact with Lara and each other, really make the places feel alive.

Combat is awkward in the way the AI moves and reacts. Enemies with melee-only kits run at you in straight lines, making it very easy to just run the other direction and line up a head shot. The ranged enemies make all sorts of erratic movements, while pushing you one person at a time. Shooting guns is not so bad. They handle fairly well, but the bow took some getting used to for a first-time player.

“Shadow of the Tomb Raider” does not focus on combat as much as it does on exploration. It is, by far, the best content the game has to offer. Combined with the amazing visuals and great level design, exploring almost any map feels rewarding, other than the plethora of collectibles scattered in every corner. The collectibles aren’t necessarily a bad thing, as the crafting system is simple and rewarding. I just thought it was a bit irritating to have five or more things to pick up every 10 meters or so.shadow-greatleap

When reading about “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” on Reddit, it’s clear that this franchise has a strong following. The game receives a 9/10 rating from IGN. The health of a game can be roughly estimated by how much Reddit traffic it gets, which is very little.  It’s not like IGN really plays the games they rate most of the time, but a 9/10 rating still raises my eyebrow.

Mixed reviews and high ratings aside, I still enjoyed “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” enough to keep playing it. All in all, the game, in a nutshell, is Run, Climb, puzzle, shoot, repeat. It is not one of those games for which I am in class thinking, “I can’t wait to go home and play “Tomb Raider.” But I’m still curious to see what other challenges the game still has to offer.

I give “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” a 7/10.

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