Beware, there are spoilers in these parts. Please do not read this if you do not want to know anything. You have
been warned so from this point you read at your own risk. Thank you.
(A special note on why I post warnings)
It is out of pure respect and consideration to other people that have not even started to play the game that I warn you there are going to be spoilers ahead. How angry would you be if I didn’t post it and you went into my article and it ruined it for you? That would be highly inconsiderate of me. That is something I would not do. That is why my spoiler warning is on my photos to promote this article, and on the article. If you still read it after all the warnings, well that is up to you just like it would be if you drank a bottle of poison after you read the warning and knew it would kill you. In other words, it is a stupid thing to do, and hardly my fault. So to make things perfectly clear: Do not read this article if you don’t want to read spoilers. I am warning you out of consideration to you. Thank you
Now on with the show …
Hi there Tomb Raider fans! Yes, your dreams have come true. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is now a living, breathing beast, and boy does it haul! I would like to say thank you to the kind folks at Crystal Dynamics, Square Enix and Eidos Montréal for giving me the privilege to have a review copy over a week ago to play. I have beaten the game, and yes, I took a ridiculous number of screenshots that you can view when I post my gallery. I played this game on my PS4 so my perspective is based on the functionality and graphics quality of that platform. Also note: As time moves along I shall be adding to this piece, so check for updates. This will include DLC content, graphics etc. So, this is only a beginning!
Game Play in general
When you start this content-rich masterpiece, it opens with a plane crash with Jonah and Lara. There is a parallel to the way Rise of the Tomb Raider opened with the avalanche in Siberia with Lara and Jonah. Then it goes back to a few days prior and then to the present again. It may be the same story method, but it is an entirely different plot. This plot will have some retro lapses that are a good thing. The jungles remind me of Tomb Raider 3 also some parts remind me of Underworld. This is good, because, Lara is developing into the Tomb Raider we all know and love. She has shades of the classic Lara running throughout her character now.
Now keep in mind that the Maya did not live in Peru, but the story will have them in that country and a large cultural influence. However, there are a few things about the Inca throughout that I will write future articles about as well as Mesoamerica in general. This is a game and though there are some very accurate historical references in areas, they took license in this game and changed a few things which are perfectly acceptable. I say this now to quell the confusion I have been noticing about this subject. The game is a work of fiction, not an academic paper.
This final in the trilogy game is Lara Croft’s defining moment.
Also a big BRAVO!
To Earl Baylon and Camilla Luddington
for outstanding performances as Lara and Jonah! The best ever and without you two, it would not be Tomb Raider! Thank you for doing what you do!
Shadow of the Tomb Raider will bring us the Lara we are all waiting for and by far the most poignant story ever presented in a Tomb Raider game. She will undergo an expedition that shapes her into her destiny. Trinity wants to destroy the world as we know it. They want it to become what they foresee from their own selfish, evil reasons. Lara fears she is becoming the evil she is working so hard to defeat as she advances through the nightmare she started to save the world from Trinity and the Maya Apocalypse.
However, she has Jonah to help her through the tough psychological strain she finds at a time to be unbearable. He makes her understand “It is not all about you, Lara” They join forces through the sometimes-lethal world they find themselves confronting. The environment is lush and quite colourful. However, that is nearly always a facade hiding treacherous traps and deadly enemies. The writing is strong in this game, the plot is interesting and fast paced action packed. This is the best story-line to date.
- The tombs and challenge tombs are something out of a nightmare, they are intensely dark and extremely treacherous with spikes, blades, creatures climbs, and much more to thwart Lara on her path. In some areas, she must crawl through narrow tunnels filled with blood and bodies in order to reach her objective. She even says “I think I am going to be sick” in one area of immense gore. However, if she won’t descend into the darkness, she will never discover the essential secrets buried within. These are the deepest and darkest tombs ever in a Tomb Raider game thus far.
- The Hub:
I shall say that hub system which we saw in the previous reboot games has returned in a BIG way for Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This by far is the biggest hub ever in any Tomb Raider game to date. You will notice this fact as soon as you step into the world. You can interact with the people of the fabled Paititi and earn language points, spend gold currency in the merchant’s shops and wander around forever and see new things. It never gets old, and the vibrant colour of everything in the game in general screams beauty.
For those of you who play this game on the PS4, which I did, here is a graphic on gameplay.
Please click on each photo in this review article for a larger image.
Items for crafting:
Much like the previous reboot games, you can craft your weapons to make them hold more ammunition, hone knife blades, strengthen Ice axes, Bows and arrows etc. When you have enough of each item a little green Full label will appear over each one.
On occasion, Lara will run across a puddle of mud. The square will appear (if you play in normal setting) and tell you to let her smear it over her skin to blend into muddy walls with plants growing on them. She has the ability to become “One with the jungle” and disappear into any mud wall or ground covering grasses and ferns. You will find the ferns, for example, covering certain areas that are teeming with enemies. Because Lara has become a stronger more defined in combat character along with far more confidence, she now enters a situation knowing she will destroy her adversaries. Now she springs from the ground cover and ambushes her enemies with a swift stealth kill and drags them into the foliage with her to hide them. Then she loots them and waits for another victim. The tables have indeed turned. I would say her defining moment
came when she heard that Jonah was dead. This sent Lara off the edge and she knew she would stop at nothing including zip lining through fire to avenge Trinity. Speaking of “Tables Turned” I won this trophy called the same. Pretty entertaining since that is what has happened concerning our Lara!
Xboxone Controls. At E3 I played on an Xboxone I also have one at home, but I purchased the Ultimate Edition for PS4. Also, the computer controls are here for your convenience.
Lara and Jonah Dynamic
They are best friends and he would do anything to protect his “Little Bird” He stands beside her through this game and becomes her voice of reason. “It’s not all about you, Lara!” Is a key line of Jonah’s. Lara knows she must stop the apocalypse she started when she found and took the dagger. Unfortunately, Dr Dominguez intercepted her with Trinity, which he appears to be deeply involved, and took the knife. Through the cataclysmic event to follow in Cozumel. When a tidal wave hit, Jonah remained balanced and kept Lara in check with priorities to the people that survived the event. This event signalled the beginning of the apocalypse. It is after Lara defeats more enemies running on pure adrenaline from thinking Jonah is dead that she falls to her knees and cries big tears when he finally walks into the room to see her dear friend alive. It is a very touching scene that made me cry as well.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider takes the player deeper into the lives of Lara and Jonah. We learn about his brother and how heartbroken he is that he could not save him in the past. Lara reminisces about her father and mother. We are taken back to her childhood and see her as a little girl who loved to explore and climb. In this case, she climbed the manor and was acting out an exploratory mission about the White Queen.
It was borne from a book her father would read to her as a child. We see flashbacks to her father and mother and how her mother wanted him to stay home more with his family. Then after you work various puzzles out as young Lara, the final scene is when her father supposedly shoots himself in his study and she finds him slumped over his desk.
I adored this level because you get to play as young Lara and explore the manor and solve the puzzles in this level. It is a wonderful chapter to the game and really helps acquaint the player with Lara from the past to present. We saw this in Rise of the Tomb Raider as well but only cuts scenes and voice clips. Getting to play her little girl character was great fun.
While Lara progresses along her path she finds useful weapons and parts to craft better, stronger ones. There is one quiver that I enjoyed using and I found intensely helpful. It is Sip’s Quiver.
A Quick Note About Sip:
Sip is a Maya hunting god. He is from the Classic period. He has also been depicted as an elderly man with deer ears and antlers. Here is his glyph symbol as well. I shall return with many future articles concerning Shadow of the Tomb Raider and archaeology related or directly connected as well as legends. I saw this and had to add it because of that reason. I am sure the Quiver is in his name within the game because of who he represents to the Maya. I thought it added a bit of interest.
You will get this item after you win the rotating fire puzzle outlined below. Your prize is on top! Another interesting new item I discovered is “Fear Arrows” You can shoot and forge these nifty things that allow you to shoot your enemies once and watch the show. They start fearing everyone and everything around them. They imagine people are out to get them and they need to defend themselves. You could call them “paranoid arrows” LOL this causes the victim to turn on their comrades and start shooting all of them. They do the work for Lara. These arrows are one of my favourite new weapons!
This game may be a fictional work, but the way actual archaeology in some areas is woven together and obviously researched well makes for a beautifully, cohesive story. It is based in the mythology of Mesoamerica. The story and characters have far more depth than before. You have a huge hub to explore for hours on end without even going into the main campaign. I would even say, that it can stand alone as a separate game well. Although, the tie-in with 2013 and Rise is well done and needs no explaining.
As if Trinity were not bad enough! There is a new bad item that Trinity mercenaries now have. It is a heat-seeking scanner to find bodies that are not hidden by dense objects. You will know them instantly when you see them equipped with such things.
The story takes Lara through many areas. We see here exploring Mexico and Peru the vast reaches of explorable environments in Peru are listed by base camp below. You will explore through villages, and scale dangerous terrain, through ancient temples learn several languages such as
Quechua, Mam and Yucatec.
The action never stops Lara is either fighting enemies that are human, mythical or animal or she is scaling new heights by traversing upside down on rocky arches. Her rappel and swinging, wall running abilities are greatly improved, smoother and easier to control.
There is horror woven into the game with gory scenes and creatures persuing Lara over terrain you have doubts she will navigate properly to get away from them. It is scary at times and implements fire, pits with spikes and more fire, deep seemingly bottomless caverns and foreboding landscapes that look as if they emerged from the underworld. You will feel the heart-pounding terror as Lara makes her way through the intense combat with savage enemies from all directions. She has to be one step ahead of all of them to win. She has to be ruthless to beat them at their own game. As she says, “Because I could not stop for death, he kindly, stopped for me!” Which way will she turn, run, fight and she will win! Lara is the good guy after all. Lara is “The Tomb Raider” and she is back and better than ever! On to her next adventure!
Haha, that said, Lara seems happier and every once in a while you actually hear her laugh. She also appears to have a partiality for Llamas! Code word: Llama Croft! LOL!
Some of the main characters are as follows:
Performance Artist │ Camilla Luddington
Queen Unuratu of Paititi
Performance Artist │ Patricia Velasquez
Performance Artist │ Earl Baylon
Performance Artist │Carlos Leal
The Story Through Lara’s Notebook
This area will not tell the story verbatim, however, it will give enough information to allow you to know what happens and who the characters are.
Path of the Stars
This area will give direct information about the silver box and other items and characters in the game to understand the plot from start to finish.
The Trial of the Eagle
One of the items many Tomb Raider fans wished for, including me, was more puzzles and to make them harder. Well, they listened and we got it in a big way. For the sake of the size of this review I won’t outline all of the puzzles, however, I will show a couple. Two of my favourites. I found the timed areas in Trial of the Eagle quite interesting. In this puzzle quest, there are rope arrows needed to secure a revolving pole with sails attached to make the main pole with the rotating blades, and ladders move.
The objective is to get to the top through a major obstacle course. Lara climbs through timed areas. If she misses let’s just say she becomes two Laras. Each puzzle requires Lara to use a new skill. This one is mostly timed climbing and examining your surfaces to make sure they won’t fall apart when you grab them. Alas, some do and you need to think fast as in 99% of this game.
The Path of Battle
This puzzle is within a tomb. Remember Tombs are trying to kill you! That, of course, makes it even more special and treacherous so look out! This tomb puzzle is one you may recognise from the original game trailer. This is a hard timed fire puzzle. It throws everything at you. The arms of this mechanical beast revolve around its base. They bring fire and sharp spikes and blades with them. Add to the fun several well-placed levers you have to push to make the rotating terror go back into the floor and fold its nasty arms into itself so you can climb to the top. The key is timing. One wrong hop and a run that is not fast enough and you are literally cut down. To make this journey more interesting you have to run through timed spinning curved blades that spin on poles sideways through doorways in groups as well as the floor. Fun and this is to get to the levers. It is tricky but exciting. There are many more where this came from.
The central hub of this game is Paititi. There are many people and side missions. There are many items for Lara to pick up as well as clothing. She buys items from the vendors with gold. The people speak their native languages and you can fine tune that aspect as you like. This place is so vast it is hard to find your way around it when you first arrive. There are places that are dangerous and Lara must blend in with the people or the law enforcers Trinity in order to get along sometimes. She will sport special attire for these times. Such as her green feathered outfit (Serpent Guard from the cult of Kukulkan warriors). It is beautiful and interesting to see her dressed this way. Here is an example: Lara is holding her headdress in this shot. I like it because you can see who she is and that this uniform is something she wears in the game. She wears it to hide from Trinity and seek information. It is very useful.
Also, Paititi is a well put together beautiful place. I will show some screenshots of it. Note: All of the screenshots in here and in the future gallery are from my gameplay on my PS4. Also, we get to see the queen and her son. I enjoyed this hub and you can bet I will be back to beat everything at 100% I went through as fast as I could and did a few side missions, but I am currently at 62% There shall also be DLC coming as scheduled.
Jaguars & Peruvian Jungle
Yes, once again Lara finds herself face to face with the big kitties, Jaguares in the Peruvian jungle! Yikes, Lara! Here are some screens of her scary moments and more beautiful scenery! A little sneaky Jaguar info. Jaguar Note: Unlike previous games that you could get Lara up a tree or a platform and the cats could not touch her, this is more geared for a real-life experience. I went up a tree by the Jaguar Den camp, and one of them went up the tree and knocked Lara out of the tree. That is what would really happen, for they climb trees and other terrains quite well. Now it is on! Be aware of this little factoid. They are sneaky and fast beasts!
Lara does a lot of swimming in this game. She has no breather like in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Without that, you are holding your breath along with her adding to the suspense! You will find little streams of bubbles floating upwards towards a hole. You need to press the square on your PS4 controller in order to be automatically taken up to the hole where Lara catches her breath. You can see the bubbles surrounding her in this shot. She has enemies to evade underwater as well. There are piranhas and eels. She can take cover as she swims faster in the low growing riverbed plants whilst making her way to the next breath-hole or exit.
This is my skills section. Though I have a lot of them, I do not have all of them yet. These skills are earned by collecting skill points. Each skill requires a certain amount of points. I for one love the upgraded overlay and the map is also amazingly beautiful. I suggest clicking on each photo for a larger view. If you notice the skills are different colours. Let’s explore the one I have highlighted in my gameplay. As you can see I am in the red group that denotes Warrior class skills. This one is called the Howler’s Troop II it is an upgraded version and requires 3 skill points and at the time of this screen, I only had 2. This skill allows in basic you to never slip when you grab ledges. Additionally, it gives more time for Lara to strategise traps and use her weapons on enemies. Aside from Warrior skills, there are also Seeker skills and Scavenger skills. All are important and you should try to get all of them. The more you collect the more you achieve. They make Lara more efficient and powerful and of course more resourceful and The Tomb Raider! Check out the graphics below about them.
Base Camps & Maps
Lara and Jonah arrive in Cozumel after they explore off-site and Lara takes photos of a ruin with a star constellation. They leave in hast due to an explosion from a set charge. After they come out from the fast-paced scene of escaping falling rocks etc they emerge unscathed. They speak about their next move when looking out at Cozumel. The scene is stunning with the outlines of the buildings against the setting sun! In Cozumel, Lara and Jonah spot Dr Dominguez in a cafe whilst discussing what they saw in the ruin earlier. The Dr. and his men are looking for a silver box, in fact, the very same that Lara is looking for. Lara and Jonah leave to follow them and she puts on a mask for a disguise. The celebrations for the “Day of the Dead” are taking place in Mexico, so Lara blended into the population. She follows them and discovers a mysterious dagger in a pyramid ruin.
Put Lara through her paces against the flora and fauna of the treacherous Peruvian jungle filled with Jaguars, howler monkeys and much more. She must find the Plane wreckage and retrieve her weapons along with finding Jonah.
(Some base camps within the Peruvian Jungle)
Kuwaq Yaku is a village in Peru that Lara travels to and finds clues about the silver box of Ix Chel.
(Some base camps within the Kuwaq Yaku area.)
Temple of Life
Kuwaq Yaku Ruins
Airfield Dirt Road
Trial of the Eagle
This is part of the path to the hidden city.
One base camp here and it is:
The Trial of the Eagle
Paititi Region (Hidden City)
Meet the people of Paititi interact with them and go on side missions and keep up with the main story for your journey to progress.
Belly of the Serpent
Head of the Serpent
Temple of Kukulkan
Upper City Main Gate
Extra Visual: Silver Crowned Mountains above the Gate
The Mountain Temple Camp
The cenote levels are very violent. There is a character known as the Yaaxil that are ruthless killing machines. They stop at nothing to destroy anything that comes their way. Their purpose is to protect the silver box that Trinity and Lara are looking for. When Lara enters their domain she can see it is a bloodbath from the start. Many of the people who set out for the mysterious box vanished until Lara finds them dead and bloodied throughout the areas of this level. The following photo is of these creatures. The woman is their priestess known as the Crimson Fire and she is with her warriors. Also, when you see the green fire-pots it is an indication the Yaaxil are around. Pay close attention. They strike with no warning and when they do it is hard to stop them from killing Lara. When they are near the fire-pots shoot the pot to explode it onto the beasts. That is their worst nightmare.
Cenote Temple Ruins
Porvenir Oil Fields
Harsh battles for Lara with Trinity on her tail. This level lets Lara shine in stealth mode! Use your ground cover foliage and mud walls to your advantage with mud puddles.
San Juan Mission
Lara must find the clues to the silver box of Ix Chel hidden by Lopez here and then they discover where it is. Unfortunately so does Trinity.
City of the Serpent
This is the last area and it is 100% because I beat the game earlier this week. Because of that the camps and the area are closed. So the map that goes to the area will have to do.
There are a lot of these throughout the game. I am using one among many as an example. This is the one from the Kukulkan Temple area.
Monolith Map with a clue about the something you need to know.
A Progression of Load Screens
As you play the game you will notice the load screens change from sunny to an eclipse. Here are three load screens I took off of my PS4 that go from partial to full-blown eclipse like a time lapse.
There is a new fun addition to this game. In this mode you can control Lara’s expressions, background filters colour many items that you would adjust in a program like Photoshop you can now do in the game. You can even add a border and the TR logo if you like in various positions. I made several quick ones for an example. I will make many more later. This is so much fun.
Path of the Stars Trophy!
This was a major eye candy moment, because, as you all know that puzzle came out before the trailer launched and we had to solve clues from the game. It was amazing to find it here. This was in Cozumel Mexico. The beginning of the game.
Well, until the next article and update about some beautiful place among the legends that live through your wildest dreams, I will see you then! But remember to
Explore the World!
This is part 1 of 2 pieces about Shadow of the Tomb Raider. In a couple weeks or so I will have the follow up about relics, more documents etc. Archaeology centred of course.
I am pleased to announce that my site is in the credits of Shadow of the Tomb Raider and all my fellow Official Fansite Program webmasters are, too. This is a huge honour, for we not only get to play the much-anticipated game, but we are part of it in the way of being added to the credits. Here is where my site is in the credits. This is so exciting and I could not be happier!