- “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” is one the prettiest games ever made, offering enhanced graphics on the Xbox One X, PlayStation 4 Pro, and PC.
- “Shadow” is the final game in a trilogy that began with the 2013 reboot of “Tomb Raider.”
- This is “Tomb Raider” at its peak — in the new game, Lara Croft explores the jungles of Peru in a massive open world that’s filled with hidden crypts, wildlife and treasure.
- Developer Eidos Montreal hired cultural advisors to help ensure that its depiction of the indigenous people and locales in “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” was both accurate and respectful.
As the final game in a trilogy, “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” ought to feel like the culmination of the series.
Instead, the latest Lara Croft game feels like more of the same. But that’s not a bad thing.
“Shadow,” which was relased on September 14 for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, is the last in a series that began with a reboot in 2013. The game is meant to be the payoff for fans who have followed the series. It closes out some overarching plotlines from the two previous games. It also focuses on a young Lara Croft that is reminiscent of the original version of the character that debuted with the first “Tomb Raider” game in 1996.
Here’s a look at “Shadow of the Tomb Raider:”
In “Shadow of the Tomb Raider,” Lara Croft is back in her natural habitat, taking artifacts that don’t belong to her.
The base concept of the “Tomb Raider” series has always been easily understood; Lara Croft is an archaeologist/treasure hunter/acrobat/trained killer searching for ancient artifacts in exotic locales. Inevitably her adventures lead her into conflict with an evil company or cabal trying to use those artifacts to take over the world, and she has to stop them.
“Shadow” is no different. Lara starts the game in pursuit of Trinity, the same organization she fought against in 2015’s “Rise of the Tomb Raider.” When she steals the artifact that Trinity is looking for, she unwittingly triggers a series of cataclysmic events that threaten to end the world — unless she beats Trinity to another artifact located in Peru.
Soon she finds herself stranded in the jungle, where she encounters a hidden city, a vengeful cult, and all the trappings of a B-action movie.
Things tend to escalate quickly when Lara Croft is involved.
Surprisingly, the story is easily the least interesting part of “Shadow,” even for someone who has played the previous games in the series. The game does touch on some dark themes, but generally chooses to play it safe.
Lara’s careless role in the cataclysms and her presence as an outsider intruding in a foreign culture and hidden city play a part in the story. But they aren’t really confronted by the characters themselves, and the game doesn’t dwell on many nuances. Instead, “Shadow” draws a clear line between the good characters and the bad ones.
That decision leads to some strange situations. It’s a bit odd, for example, to see Lara playing dress up while in Peru and getting along with just about everyone there, even though she’s an outside invader.
Is Lara dressed appropriately — or just engaged in cultural appropriation?
Still, “Shadow” is one of the most visually impressive games made to date. It offers enhanced graphics options for 4K resolution and HDR mode on the PlayStation Pro, Xbox One X, and PC.
Players can choose high-resolution mode if they want the best visual experience. Alternatively, they can select high-frame-rate mode for smoother gameplay.
Regardless of the choice, the dynamic environments of “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” are simply awe-inspiring, and the visual experience alone kept me excited for each new trip into the wild.