Lara Croft’s been on one hell of an adventure since her debut title back in 1996. Much like any franchise that spans a great deal of time, our favorite tomb raider’s had her ups and her downs. To date, we’ve seen a total of two reboots; Legend and 2013’s Tomb Raider. Up until Legend, developer Core Design worked on most titles prior until the critical failure that was The Angel of Darkness, at which point, Eidos transferred development duties over to Crystal Dynamics. Since then, Crystal Dynamics have proven their worth several times over.
This spans from Legend and takes us up to the newly released Shadow of the Tomb Raider – which has been developed by Eidos Montréal in conjunction with Crystal Dynamics. Now, Legend itself wasn’t nearly as much of a reboot as Tomb Raider 2013 was. In fact, Tomb Raider 2013 was a much more necessary reboot than that of Legend. You see, following the release of Underworld, it was clear to Crystal Dynamics that amidst (at that time) shifts in modern gaming, Lara was in much need of a fresh lick of proverbial paint. Quite rightly so.
Thus, Tomb Raider 2013 was born, the first in a trilogy that focuses on Lara’s origin story. By and large, Tomb Raider 2013 went down a treat and despite some minor criticisms, so did its 2015 sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider. Now, here we sit at the origin’s conclusion with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. In case you missed it, we scored it a pretty high 9.5 out of 10 in our review. Shadow of the Tomb Raider offers up a lot of fan service, taking everything that worked in the immediate two predecessors, and building upon that with feedback in mind.
Light content spoilers sit ahead. The end result has made for one robust, deep and emotional journey for Lara. Now, despite some issues with the occasional story beat not quite having an intended impact, everything else is damn near flawless. The campaign has a good length to it and although it doesn’t exceed the fifteen hour mark, there’s still plenty to do post-completion. In fact, I completed the game with just fifty two percent of the content worked through, and note that I didn’t rush the campaign. I took my time to soak up the surroundings and interact with it.
Sure, I may have skipped quite a few of the side quests and such, but even so, just less than half of the game is optional content? That’s fairly impressive as far as content diversity goes. You see, once you’re done with the story, you’re free to explore the city hubs that you will have visited throughout. Here, vendors and quest givers will dish out activities like there’s no tomorrow, in return for rewards that will oftentimes grant you access to hidden sections of the map, revealing even more tombs and even more unlockables along the way.
This constant roll of new and engaging activities just never seems to end, and they’re further bolstered by giving players more insight into the lore of the game, and to Lara as a character. That’s not to mention the bulky season pass content that’s soon to arrive in the game and will add co-op tombs, seven more challenge tombs, new narrative side quests, and more. Safe to say that the developers went all out as far as Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s longevity goes. I’ve put countless hours into the game and I’m only scratching the surface.
Lara has a wealth of new abilities to utilize too, many of which can be unlocked through natural play or via visiting optional side content such as the challenge tombs. If you thought Lara was a capable survivor in Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider, you ain’t seen shit yet. The skills that Lara can achieve in Shadow of the Tomb Raider are skills that even Rambo would be proud of. Believe, some of her moves here are outstanding. Another high point is that you can play this game in a range of play styles. Favor stealth? Go for it. Prefer being Chuck Norris? Or perhaps a blend of both? It’s all there for the taking.
It would be nice to see more of the Croft Manor post launch, possibly either in flash-back sequence or current day, but as it stands, there’s just enough included to satisfy my interest. The big question everyone is asking, is, where will Lara Croft go next? Well, that’s a guess for anyone right now. The narrative arc that’s been carried from Tomb Raider, over to Rise of the Tomb Raider, and now Shadow of Tomb Raider, showcases Lara’s initial growth. It’ll be interesting to see, now that Lara is the tomb raider that we know her to be, where she ends up next.
Nevertheless, we’ll just have to wait and see what time brings us. I for one would love to see more of Lara in the future and given the success of the origin trilogy, it’s quite likely that we’ll be seeing her again at some point. For now, Shadow of the Tomb Raider scratches the itch, and will do so for a long while to come thanks to the depth of the game and the content coming in the season pass. Have you played the game yet? Are you enjoying Lara’s latest adventure? Where do you want to see the series go next? Hit the comments below to get in on the action.