Shadow of the Tomb Raider, PS4

I’ve really enjoyed the rebooted Tomb Raider series. I adored the first one when I played it on PS3 (enough that I picked it up on PS4 as well), and enjoyed the second one once the agonising wait was over and it came to PS4. So it was with excitement that I recently booted up Shadow of the Tomb Raider, to see what the latest entry has to offer.

In essence, it’s more of the same. Which is fine, I really did enjoy the first two games in the rebooted series. It’s the same combination of action and puzzles that made the first two games so successful.

Screenshot showing a puzzle with moving arms that Lara has to duck and dive around without getting mown down

This puzzle saw Lara avoiding arms with mechanical saws to reach her goal unscathed

For me, it’s always been the puzzling that really stands out when it comes to the gameplay. I enjoy the combat enough, but I’m much happier when Lara is getting to explore the landscape and solve some truly head scratching puzzles.

Chief amongst these are the options challenge tombs, which I’m always eager to seek out. Their big, complex puzzles took me – at times – up to thirty minutes to solve. And they gave me plenty of challenge, as I tried to work out how to arrange everything to reach the shrine at the heart of the tomb and collect my reward.

Screenshot, Lara poses in front of the shrine in one of the challenge tombs

Lara poses in front of the altar in one challenge tomb

One place where Shadow of the Tomb Raider truly shines is in its visuals. This is a truly gorgeous looking game, even if – like me – you’re only playing it on a standard PS4 rather than a PS4 Pro. From beautiful vistas that you gaze out across, to amazing, dramatic cinematography in cut scenes, there’s always another stunning sight to behold.

Lara wades through water at night. She is silhouetted against flames that rage behind her

This particularly cinematic shot seems reminiscent of Carrie as Lara enters a similar rage state

Undoubtedly, the standout element of the Tomb Raider reboot has been the story telling. And this is where I felt that Shadow of the Tomb Raider let the side down a little.

The story was okay, I guess. But I just didn’t find myself caring all that much for the characters or the adventure that Lara was undertaking. I certainly don’t expect any entry to match the emotional heft of the first of the Tomb Raider reboot games. That said, it would have been nice to have it on the same level as Rise of the Tomb Raider. However I just found it a bit lacklustre.

Lara looks out across a valley, there is a mountain in the distance

I think that probably sums up my opinion on the game overall. It’s a good game, and I enjoyed it. But I can’t help but compare it to the previous two entries in this trilogy. As far as I’m concerned, Rise of the Tomb Raider is probably the best game of the three. But it will always be Tomb Raider that will hold a special place in my heart, for taking me an emotional journey as Lara Croft first discovered who she was.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was a good game, I just wanted more from a series that I’ve previously found to be consistently great.

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