shadow of the tomb raider

Lara Croft and the raider of the lost dark

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Dom Pep­pi­att

“When the game throws puz­zles at you, those puz­zles are hard”

Pub­lisheR Square Enix De­vel­oper Ei­dos Mon­treal For­mat Xbox One ETA 14 Septem­ber 2018

Within the first 30 min­utes of Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, you hear a line, word-for-word, from Raiders Of The Lost Ark. That sets the scene, re­ally – that shows you what Tomb Raider is based on, what it wants to be, and why you’re play­ing it.

You’re a gung-ho ad­ven­turer. A tough-as-nails young buck, eyes set on an­cient trea­sure. Yes, Lara may have changed since her polyg­o­nal pro­to­type, but the setup is the same: you boot up a Tomb Raider game keen to kick ass, and raid tombs. Shadow Of The Tomb Raider cer­tainly has both of those el­e­ments in spades… but per­haps to its detri­ment.

Lara and Jonah are back, and so are Trin­ity – the mys­te­ri­ous or­gan­i­sa­tion that has plagued the tomb-raid­ing duo over the last five years. Since 2013, in both Tomb Raider and Rise Of The Tomb Raider, Trin­ity have been out­pac­ing Lara at ev­ery turn – prov­ing to be more than a thorn in her side. The group is ef­fec­tively af­ter a pair of relics that, if used cor­rectly, can bring about the end of the world. No pres­sure, then.

The open­ing of the game sets you off in a small South Amer­i­can vil­lage, filled with NPCs all cel­e­brat­ing an event anal­o­gous to Mex­ico’s Day of the Dead: skulls, face paint and can­dles ev­ery­where. You have to talk to peo­ple to dis­cover the lo­ca­tion of the next area you’re to plun­der, and it’s ac­tu­ally a real nice rein­tro­duc­tion to Lara as a char­ac­ter. Shadow will ap­par­ently have a big hub city that you’ll be based out of, where you take mis­sions, sub­quests, items and more.

That seems like a great way of mak­ing Lara more per­son­able: hope­fully it’ll com­mu­ni­cate more about her char­ac­ter and her growth than the dreary in­ter­nal mono­logues she’s been lum­bered with up un­til now. When she gets out into the jun­gle, the ol’ killer is back, though.

Vine time

We imag­ine the mood board at Ei­dos – no, not Crys­tal Dy­nam­ics this time – has a lot of Preda­tor and Rambo screens on it. Lara’s acute senses re­turn, giv­ing you ‘de­tec­tive mode’ to pick out your op­po­nents and their move­ments from range, and the ma­jor­ity of what we played saw Lara hid­ing in vines, break­ing necks and jolt­ing from cover to cover in or­der to ex­e­cute griz­zly mur­der.

If you know the re­booted se­ries, you’ll know this isn’t any­thing new – stealthy com­bat is bread and but­ter to the se­ries by this point – but it still feels gra­tu­itous, at odds with what Ei­dos is try­ing to do with her char­ac­ter. When the game throws puz­zles at you, though, those puz­zles are hard and that’s some­thing legacy Lara fans are go­ing to en­joy the most.

Our favourite bit of the demo, for ex­am­ple, had Lara work­ing out how to form a rudi­men­tary pul­ley sys­tem us­ing teth­ered ar­rows, and ar­range them in­tel­li­gently, form­ing path­ways and stair­cases to deeper, un­ex­plored parts of a moon­lit Aztec-themed tomb. The feel of the place – won­der mixed with claus­tro­pho­bia, dan­ger laced with in­trigue – is what Tomb Raider does best, and we’re en­thu­si­as­tic about the prospect of spelunk­ing into more of these un­charted ar­eas.

Ei­dos prom­ises this time that Tomb Raider is ac­tu­ally go­ing to have plenty more hon­est-to-god, proper tombs to raid, too. If what we’ve played so far is any in­di­ca­tion, Shadow is mak­ing Lara more bru­tal, the puz­zles more sadis­tic, and the story more in­tense. No won­der they opted for the Shadow qual­i­fier in the ti­tle… it seems things are get­ting darker.

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