Tomb Raider sequel still offers plenty of thrills and action

In Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, gamers can explore underwater tombs, among other things.
In Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, gamers can explore underwater tombs, among other things.

Lara Croft, the iconic protagonist of the video-game franchise Tomb Raider - which has crossed over to the big screen - may be more than 20 years old, but she is still going strong.

Developers Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics released an interesting reboot in 2013, intended to be the first part of a trilogy.

The sequel appeared in 2016 and the third instalment - Shadow Of The Tomb Raider - arrived last month with great timing, given the release of the latest Tomb Raider movie earlier this year which starred actress Alicia Vikander.

Shadow Of The Tomb Raider aims to appeal to both casual and seasoned players by having four levels of difficulty. It also allows further tweaking of three sub-categories - Combat, Exploration and Puzzle.

But note that you cannot upgrade or downgrade the difficulty level once the main campaign starts. The only way to do so is to start a fresh game, which means losing your current progress.

If you have played any of the previous games on a same account, a nice loyalty reward comes unlocked at the start, allowing you to change Lara's outfits.

Some outfits go way back and turn Lara into her early character models. However, the only perk for doing so is nostalgia - changing into the old-school outfit does not allow your character to wield two guns, a trait Lara is well-known for.

In contrast, those who pre-order get a useful outfit that grants bonus experience points.

  • RATING

  • 8/10

    PRICE: From $79.90 (PC; PS4, version tested; Xbox One)

    GENRE: Platform adventure

Character progression is based on levelling up, whereby you unlock skill points to purchase enhancements from a skill tree that suits your playing style.

Lara has some new tricks in this game. She can blend into dense vegetation to sneak up on and strike unsuspecting enemies.

This will be welcomed by those who prefer making a calculated approach to thin out the resistance, rather than charging head-on with guns blazing.

The rich visuals and audio are also the highlights of this release.

The lush jungle and native settlements feel realistic, especially if you have a good surround-sound set-up. In addition, there are wildlife threats and various optional tombs to raid, some accessible through underwater exploration.

The core gameplay sticks to the familiar, with the usual cycle of climbing, jumping and swinging activities, scripted events and timed button presses.

While the story campaign is entertaining, there are highs and lows.

For example, it is great to see the bond between Lara and Jonah, a trustworthy survivor from the first game.

There is also a playable flashback scene involving an adolescent Lara that adds a fresh perspective to the backstory.

However, her clash with the paramilitary organisation Trinity, which has spanned all three games in the trilogy, feels unsatisfying.

I am also disappointed with a segment of the game, in which Lara has to escape from a tsunami and one wrong move will lead to her death. This is because whether it is Lara missing her grip or making a bad jump at different spots, the resulting animation is always the same - her getting fatally stabbed by metal spikes.

Finishing the campaign does not mean your tomb-raiding escapades are over. There are still hidden tombs to discover and side quests to complete. You can also replay the game at a higher difficulty level.

You can consider getting the Season Pass, which offers access to new adventures and items over seven months.

This release completes the trilogy. But I certainly hope this is not the last time we are seeing a new Lara Croft adventure.

• Verdict: Shadow Of The Tomb Raider offers gamers much to discover, while pointing to exciting possibilities for the franchise.

• Mohd Nizam is a freelance writer.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2018, with the headline 'Tomb Raider sequel still offers plenty of thrills and action'. Print Edition | Subscribe