Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4)

Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN ( GB)
Release Date: September 14, 2018
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montréal
Original MSRP: $59.99 (US), £54.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 18
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this product is available on Episode 590 of the podcast at 54:42.
Episode 590 - There's a Bird in my Chimney!

Gameplay:
Shadow of the Tomb Raider marks the end of the rebooted Tomb Raider trilogy though I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll see of Lara Croft.

As a side note, while you’ll obviously get much more out of the game and story if you’ve played the previous two games, you can comfortably step right into this one with little to no knowledge of them and be just fine.

Lara has grown over the past two games, from a young girl unsure of herself to a strong and confident adventurer. She will have that confidence shaken throughout the story and she still second guesses herself, but her skills are solid and her ability to take down enemies is unmatched.

This Lara Croft has become a master hunter. She can blend into the jungle and strike at will, and I have to say, it feels great. You can play a stealth style, run and gun, or a mix of both. There are two areas deeper into the game which will force you to play one style or the other so even if you lean heavily in one direction, you won’t be able to complete the game without experiencing a little of both.

Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4) Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4)

I was playing stealth combat through the entire game but I was actually a little disappointed with how the forced stealth area was handled. The level in question sees you losing all your possessions deep in enemy territory. My issue is that when you take down an enemy with a gun, which is essentially every enemy in the level, the weapons immediately disappear so you can’t pick them up.

Really this should have been thought out a little more because it breaks the illusion. It pulled me right out of the story and reminded me in a heavy handed way that I was playing a game. This is, however, a minor blip in a massive and exciting adventure so I can’t really tear down the whole experience over it.

The final boss however, that’s a whole other story. I only had one or two encounters the entire game that caused me to restart a few times. That last encounter of the game had a difficulty way out of proportion with the rest of the game and it really started to sour me with every restart.

I eventually got through it and was very satisfied with the conclusion of the story, but I don’t like a big jump in difficulty with the final boss in a game. I’d rather have a moderate challenge that doesn’t detract from the story or experience as a whole.

Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4) Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider sees Lara headed towards her final confrontation with Trinity, a shadowy organization bent on reshaping the world to fit their own agenda. The battle will test her resolve and shake her confidence along the way. I really enjoyed the writing and the strong, well-defined characters, no matter how small their parts in the overall story.

The game features some of the biggest locations and tombs to date as Lara makes her way through South America. Each area is packed with hidden tombs and challenges and a fast travel point so you can go back and work towards 100% in each area at your leisure. Digging through these areas is worthwhile too since you’ll unlock valuable skills and equipment which can make the main experience a little more manageable.

Climbing and swimming are a big part of getting through the levels and this game marks the return of underwater gameplay. The controls are solid and I enjoyed the way it worked since there are plenty of hidden treasures and resources to find underwater… along with those damn piranhas.

The Skill Tree has more than sixty different choices distributed along three branches, Scavenger, Warrior, and Seeker. Skill points are acquired through gameplay so the combination of the two allows you to choose whatever fits your playstyle. Spending time here early can make things much easier later on so this is an area you shouldn’t neglect.

Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4) Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4)

In the three hubs, dozens of side quests, resources, and hidden areas await and this is another area you’ll want to dig into since the rewards can be very valuable. You’ll also be able to buy and sell items with various traders, though to be honest, I only took advantage of this once to upgrade my bow. I found that crafting and picking up ammo boxes were good enough for everything else.

The gameplay feels really solid, especially the stealth. I loved being able to sneak through levels and dispatch enemies from the shadows and a number of upgrades along the way made it that much sweeter.

You will see the occasional awkward animation when climbing and some of the fast moving levels can be an exercise in trial and error, but for the most part Lara feels like a badass and it felt great to have her back.

Visuals:
I don’t have a 4K/HDR TV and I was still mesmerized by the visuals in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This game is absolutely gorgeous. The lighting is phenomenal, especially with the sunlight filtering through the jungle canopy and the shadows deep in the caves.

Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4) Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4)

Even the minor characters and the incidental people in the villages, where things tend to break down in most games, look pretty fantastic overall. I’m really impressed with the overall look and feel of the game.

On a fun side note, older Lara Croft skins are available including Tomb Raider 2, Angel of Darkness and the Bomber Jacket. It’s funny to see her juxtaposed against modern looking characters when using these skins in the game and it’s a nice inclusion for fans.

Audio:
The score is much darker for this entry which really reflects the story and much of it was composed with pre-Colombian and South-American instruments. It really helps immerse you in the story and it was a great choice. You can learn more about the music and composer Brian D’Oliveira at the official website of the game.

The voice acting is pretty outstanding as well. The dialogue is delivered in such a natural fashion that you’re never taken out of the experience. It’s a testament to the work of the developers and performance artists Camilla Luddington, Earl Baylon, Carlos Leal, and Patricia Velasquez. Even the minor characters come across as very believable and real.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4) Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4)

Conclusion:
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an epic and fitting conclusion to the rebooted trilogy and I hope it’s not the last we’ll see of this version of Lara Croft. This is a grand adventure with hours and hours of content that makes those detours from the main story worth your while.

While I had my issues in some places, especially the insane difficulty spike in the final boss, the overall package is a wonderful reminder of what makes Tomb Raider games fun, and really, that’s all a fan could ask for.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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