Tomb Raider was the beginning of Lara Croft's journey. Rise of the Tomb Raider was Lara growing into her role and becoming a capable fighter and archaeologist. Now comes Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which is said to be the culmination of Lara's saga.
Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal, and Square Enix are calling this Lara Croft's "defining moment." But what exactly does this mean? Shacknews went hands-on during Thursday's Shadow of the Tomb Raider reveal event to get a better idea, as well as check out some of the game's mechanics, both new and familiar.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks to pick up where 'Rise' left off, with Lara continuing to follow the machinations of shadow organization Trinity. The demo opened in a small Mexican pueblo, as they spy on a nearby gentleman called Doctor Dominguez. Lara and her returning friend Jonah make sure to follow Dominguez as he awaits word on an artifact that they're seeking nearby. As Jonah creates a diversion with nearby guards, Lara scales an alley wall and clandestinely keeps pace with Dominguez and his Trinity contacts. Jonah soon surmises that Dominguez is actually the leader of the shadowy cabal, indicating that he will likely be the game's main antagonist.
This led into some familiar elements surrounding Lara traversing the world. The pick axe returns, as players jump from ledge to ledge and use the pick axe to cling onto certain walls. Many of the previous mechanics return, like having to press a button if the pick axe doesn't quite grip the wall all the way. Newer mechanics like rappeling are also featured, as are puzzle elements, like weighted platforms and platforms that get moved around with Lara's rope arrows.
Exploring tombs also becomes a key element, although the tomb on display here was noticeably dingier than anything seen in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Shadow of the Tomb Raider embraced this spookier atmosphere with darker environments and strategic music cues, which included a few jump scares. Some of them were harmless, like Lara stopping as a pack of rats ran by. Others, not so much, like a group of bats flying across as Lara tried to make a jump, leading to her crashing to the ground to her death.
There is one other major element returning to Shadow of the Tomb Raider and that's swimming. Certain areas will feature extensive swimming sequences that task players with finding their way to different areas, while also managing their oxygen and keeping away from underwater creatures. There are another jump scare littered in this area, as Lara went up to surface and was greeted by a giant eel.
The demo offered a general idea of what's coming, but Lara's journey will now take her to the jungles of South America as she seeks to prevent a Mayan apocalypse from coming to pass. Hints were presented in regards to the various calamities that Trinity is looking to enact, with the jungle environment looking to offer some of the harshest environments to date. But Shadow of the Tomb Raider's entire premise is that Lara Croft has mastered her element. To that end, there were several portions in the demo where Lara was able to pull off multiple stealth kills either with her knife or with a well-placed arrow. The trailer released on Friday indicates that Shadow of the Tomb Raider will go a step further, with Lara being so masterful at her craft that she's able to use the environment to dispatch numbers of hapless Trinity grunts.
There are several other elements of Shadow of the Tomb Raider that will feel familiar. The RPG elements still appear to be in place. The user interface looks to be exactly the same. Traps will still pop up at a moment's notice with only a split-second to hit the right button or face certain death. There don't appear to be any drastic changes from Rise of the Tomb Raider, but considering what a joy that game was, that's perfectly fine.
How will Lara Croft reach her "defining moment?" Players will get to find that out when Shadow of the Tomb Raider releases on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on September 14.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Shadow of the Tomb Raider Preview: Apocalypse Soon
She's a full-on murderin' jungle cat in this one eh? I enjoyed the -- largely -- combat-free Underworld recently, with its numerous architectural puzzles, and though the last two FPS reboots are great and were needed to shake up a stultified franchise, hopefully the devs can take this success and combine it with more of the old-style gameplay.