Gone, too, is the focus on survival and Lara-vs-wild that made the other adventures such… adventures. Apart from a couple of overly violent jaguars you play through most of the game never having to worry about wildlife, and I had to kill very little fauna to craft all my upgrades. The challenge tombs are good but the new difficulty options either make them too obvious (with massive white paint splats on everything you need to touch and an overly helpful, annoyingly insistent insight button) or obtuse, with all of those turned off.
When the game drops the guard rails and offers you something genuinely fun, then fun is had. It’s just those moments come few and far between, and I slogged through a lot of nonsense (especially all the maze-like villages, boring dialogue with loacls and rubbish side quests) to get to that quality play.
It doesn’t help that the game is still, a week after release, seriously buggy. Like, seriously buggy. I haven’t talked to anyone who’s played the game who doesn’t have a hilarious story of how Shadow screwed them over. It’s a shame, too, as the game is absolutely gorgeous. Its vistas are breath taking, its sense of scope is impressive and just the detail and visual density of each scene you find yourself in really knocks your socks off – as long as everything works.
In the sound department, it’s a mixed bag. Some voice acting is stellar, a lot of it is lazy. The music is decent but ultimately forgettable. The sound effects are pretty great across the board. Camilla Luddington lends her talents to Lara once again but this time seems a little bored by it all. Lara speaks and acts like a robot a lot of the time, which is such a shame because the facial animation is stunning at times. I was really impressed by the little details caught in this mo-cap, so it’s a shame to see it in a messy game portrayed by an actor who feels like she wants to be somewhere else.
‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider‘ is the weakest game in the reboot trilogy by a long shot. At its best it’s still as engaging and as fun as previous entries, but all too often it isn’t at its best. It’s a mess of narrative inconsistency and horrible pacing in its gameplay. The fact that there’s some quality work here doesn’t detract enough from the hobbled game Shadow often ends up being. I think Tomb Raider deserved a better close than this.
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