As Lara Croft races to save the world from a Maya apocalypse, she must become the Tomb Raider she is destined to be.
Reviews View More
This review contains spoilers
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one of the most baffling redirections of a series I have played in a very long time. I played the first of the Tomb Raider reboots as well as Rise of the Tomb Raider near their original releases and I remember them as fun adventures with a satisfying if unrefined stealth system, a simplistic but entertaining set of puzzles, that were set to breathtaking visuals for their time. Shadow, on the other hand, feels simultaneously like more of the same as well as a step in the wrong direction.
Rise leaned more heavily on the open world free-roam sections and, while I didn't appreciate this as much as the more linear experience of the first title, I could look past it because of its improved upgrade system. I was cautiously optimistic for Shadow, but it seems they have sunk further into the collect-a-thon style of game, coupled with some really anti-fun design choices. Why do I still need to decipher these languages in order to just read the monoliths? We see multiple times in the story that Lara has a perfectly good camera that can capture ancient writings for later study, I can't just take a picture of the monoliths and look at them later? Collecting resources is not fun when it only involves walking up to the obvious environmental object and pressing the interact key. Platforming puzzles are not engaging when a tutorial message is shown on the screen every second showing exactly what to do. Bear in mind, this is on the default difficulty setting. If there was an easy mode where these systems were more stripped down, I wouldn't mind, but I'd like for the default setting to at least give me some amount of immersion.
The stealth system has not evolved with its introduction of hiding on walls. It's a niche interaction at best, only useful in situations where extreme stealth is arbitrarily enforced. In the majority of encounters, using weapons is the way to go, even on hard. The game hands you a silenced pistol very near the beginning of the game, and still expects you to use the bow, which has the same killing potential on headshot but a much slower fire rate. Why bother carefully using distractions and sneaking to isolate enemies and move in for the kill when I can pick all of them off from 300 meters away with impunity? I suppose this is where intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation comes into play, but in the third entry in the series with the same game mechanics, intrinsic value has been lost.
As far as the puzzles go, they vary between completely braindead and frustratingly arcane. I enjoyed the puzzle with the white crown in Lara's house, but the game expects you to reference your collected files for clues needed to solve the puzzle, but never tells you how to access these or that they even exist. I played with the puzzles set to hard for more challenge, but even on other difficulties the game does not tell you how to or that you even can reference your notes. The puzzle with the combination locks for the doors was another example of this, where I'm not even sure what I was supposed to glean from the note it told me to look at. I suppose this is my fault, but the game really doesn't attempt to make its challenges solvable, but instead just wants to waste your time until you randomly press the right button. That's the difference between a good puzzle and...well...most of the puzzles in The Witness.
I've seen a lot of praise of the visuals in this game and I have to disagree. Yes, there are some parts where the game is gorgeous, but these are few and far between in my experience. Playing on the highest settings with ray-tracing, the game has some of the worst lighting and art direction I have seen from a title of this budget in recent memory. The color grade is downright terrible, what should be the most vibrant and colorful game in the series feels muted and bland, like a Gears of War imitation. The shadows don't feel shadowy, and the highlights feel swampy. When the game does get vibrant, it's in caves, but then the atmospheric effects drown the entire scene in a dense orange glow, completely destroying the color palette. A lot of these issues can be fixed with something like Reshade, but what can't be fixed is the boring use of lighting in the open world areas. There is no style to it, no creative use of lighting to highlight certain parts of the environment. Yes these techniques are used, but they only appear in the linear sections of the game where you spend far less of your time. At least the performance is good.
The story is exactly what you'd expect. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and certainly nothing has been gained in this iteration of the same old formula. Lara is on another adventure and crashes another plane (you'd think they wouldn't let her near one of those things by now), and calamity ensues. This entry does have an interesting premise that Lara causes the apocalypse, but all this does is make me want to shut down the game and let Trinity win. The story can't decide whether Lara should be a concerned archaeologist with a passion for history or a laissez-faire crusader with no self-awareness. There were several times in the story that Lara, someone who has massacred thousands of Trinity soldiers at this point and is currently armed to the teeth with high-tech automatic weapons, has been face-to-face with the villain of the story who is armed with checks notes, sticks and rocks, and chooses to do nothing. Ludonarrative dissonance is nothing new to the New Raider series but you'd think the writers would have learned their lesson by now. I guess war really does never change.
The new skill tree is largely pointless, the outfit system having stats attached is not only pay-to-win with the deluxe versions, but also defeats a lot of the intrinsic value of a character customization system. The underwater stealth sections are also a prime-example of anti-fun gameplay with next to zero depth.
Got pretty tired of the gameplay by this point in the series. Honestly not a bad game still, but please don't make another one without changing something up, I don't know how many more times I can fail a quick time event and immediately be impaled on something (Lara only ever gets impaled as a form of death, I think it is some kind of fetish?).
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018): Menudo destrozo de la saga. Más allá de la Lara psicópata, el buen ritmo que caracterizaba las otras dos entregas, ausente. Lo arregla un poco al final, y le salva tener una buena base, pero el bajonazo en la calidad es notable (6,35)