‘Oh Tom,’ you must be thinking to yourself like you did when you got yourself a Mobilebet voucher code 2019. ‘Tomb Raider is still bringing out more content and you’re already talking about finishing it 100%. Are you too good at games? Are you cheating to complete them quicker? Did you get a code early and blast through it before it was released? Is it really short?
Well in order: Probably not, no, that was Yakuza 6, and yes. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is really kind of short. Now most of this is not due to the quality of the game itself, the experience is fun and the story while a bit buggered in places does the job. The problem is that, at its core, Tomb Raider hasn’t really evolved since 2013.
But of course I cannot dive straight into that, we need to cover the story first. So let’s dive in with the finale of Lara’s 5 year origin story as I always do…
We start our story two months after Rise of the Tomb Raider, with Lara and her friend Jonah working to stop Trinity, our shadowy organisation from the previous game. The clues from Lara’s father take them to Cozumel in Mexico where they identify the head of Trinity’s High Council as Pedro Dominguez, a friend of Lara’s father. Sneaking ahead of the Cell, Lara discovers references to a hidden city and ends up finding a temple containing a hidden dagger as well as murals referencing a ‘silver box’ and ‘the cleansing.’ Despite these rather stark warnings Lara takes the dagger triggering the Cleansing and colour me shocked and amazed if things do not start going wrong. Before she can escape Dominguez corners Lara and takes the dagger and escapes the raging tsunami which overtakes Cozumel. Cue an epic escape sequence and Lara and Jonah emerge only mentally scathed despite her damning a village to drown.
Despite the fact that setting off the apocalypse has caused some tension between friends Lara and Jonah head off to the Peruvian jungle to hunt for the hidden city. Despite a rather violent storm ripping the plane in two the pair manage to find a small Peruvian town and eventually work their way deeper into the jungle to find Paititi, the hidden city of legend. Exploring the local tombs the pair find references to the goddesses Chak Chel and Ix Chel. It turns out that combining the dagger and the box will sacrifice the god Kulkulkhan and halt the cleansing but also allow the user to reshape the world. Strange occurrences begin when the Trinity soldiers are slaughtered by an unknown foe and after saving a boy called Etzli, she and Jonah are dragged away by strange Mayan soldiers.
By sheer luck, Lara and Jonah end up in Paititi, and meet the leader of the rebel force Unuratu. There is a small civil war between Unuratu and the royalists and her brother-in-law Amaru who it turns out is Dominguez. Amaru’s cult is born out of Trinity who took him as a child with the goal of having him reshape the world in whatever their interest is. To prevent the ritual Unuratu points Lara towards the box, but when Lara makes her way in she finds it missing and upon returning to the city sees Etzli being kidnapped by the cult. Mounting a rescue effort Etzli is rescued but Unuratu is captured in his place marking the worst rescue in gaming history and Lara comes face-to-face with the Yaaxil, the guardians of the box. Mounting another rescue effort for Unuratu, Lara learns from Amaru that a missionary called Andres Lopez stole the box 400 years ago and in the attempt to rescue Unuratu she is shot and killed by Rourke, the commander form Trinity who appeared in the previous game.
While escaping, Lara and Jonah are shot at from a helicopter and destroying their boat and causing Lara to wash up in an oil refinery. Rourke taunts Lara, revealing that he has been listening to their communications for a while and taunts her by claiming Jonah has died. Lara goes on a small rampage, destroying the oil refinery in anger over Jonah’s death. Jonah is revealed to be alive, and the two discover the clue of the box’s location and once again ignore the atrocity Lara has just caused.
Following a clue with Jonah, Lara makes her way to a small Spanish Monastery opened by Lopez and through following clues discovers the remains of a small cult Lopez set up and the box. During their exit Rourke and Dominguez hold Jonah hostage for the box and during the escape Jonah loses the box and Lara escapes an earthquake. Making their way back to Paititi, Lara laments about Dominguez reveal, that he had her father killed to prevent him from revealing Paititi to the world, and is using the cleansing to save Paititi, whatever that may mean.
Back in Paititi Lara and Jonah meet the newly crowned Etzli and formulate an assault on the underground temple at Paititi’s centre to stop the ritual. Lara heads off alone to provide sniper support to the main assault but before any action commences she again meets the leader of the Yaaxil: Chak Chel. Lara convinces them to help her stop Trinity, taking on the persona of Ix Chel while the Yaaxil assault Trinity forces, killing Rourke in the process by chewing him up in his APC and killing the Trinity High Council effectively ending their organisation. Lara faces off with Amaru, who uses the box to gain extraordinary powers but through the power of stealth and guns Lara manages to take the dagger and kill Amaru. Accepting defeat, he transfers the power of Kulkulkhan to Lara and dies after imploring her to save Paititi. Despite the temptation of the dagger to revive her parents, Lara resists and sacrifices Kulkulkhan allowing the eclipse to pass and the world to be saved.
The aftermath shows Unuratu being laid to rest, and Lara, Jonah and Etzli discussing plans for the future. Etzli works to restore the city to its former glory. Jonah heads off to spend some time on vacation. Lara is shown in a post-credit scene planning her new adventure at Croft Manor, looking to protect the world’s mysteries rather than solve them.
What Happens Now?
After finishing the story you are placed back in Paititi, given everything to do but the ending and allowing you to nail that 100%. Now the list of things is rather long, but only because each is connected to the other.
The easiest of these to do is the optional tombs. Like the previous games they are littered around for you to do. They are fairly straightforward: Complete the puzzle to unlock the skill at the end. Alongside these are crypts, which are somewhat like the tombs but provide items instead. The crypts are a nice addition, almost like tombs light but add very little to the meat of the game.
The collecting however is absolute hell. You collect everything you can, not only to craft items during the game but to gain the language proficiency required to decipher the monoliths around the map. This by far is the most laborious bit. While the stories behind these objects are still really interesting it’s just a lot of filler.
The other big addition is fully fleshed out side quests. This does the job of adding depth to the game world, making the cities seem a bit more alive than in previous games. However the quests are not particularly deep in action, and normally it involves going somewhere and talking or killing a person. Still their addition is noted positively and many of the stories really help you understand the Mayan world Lara is thrust into even if the gameplay it translates to is boring.
THOUGHTS AND WONDERS
In total, powering through the story will take you about 10 hours, and the subsequent powering through the rest of the missions will probably take another 10 hours. A solid 20 hours of content is not too shabby, if you really take no downtime at all and run through like a Red Bull junkie.
Now I would like to take you back in time to the year 2013 for a little. Obama was President, leaving the EU was a distant thought, and I was starting University. More importantly games were getting bloated.
Not with quality content however, with filler time wasting garbage. Games had to have an open world and they had to have a lot of content regardless of quality. This meant collectables, and far too many of them. You remember them well: Animals, dog tags, artefacts, goddamn radio towers. Ubisoft became known as the company filling games with absolute garbage, making you collect things to enable you to collect other things. Now in 2013 this was somewhat more acceptable; companies were still finding their feet with massive open worlds and trying to find a balance between the size of the world and the content richness within it.
But this is 2018, games have had time to balance out. And compared to the original Tomb Raider reboot Shadow of the Tomb Raider has not really evolved beyond its original 2013 incarnation in any significant way. There are some steps up in the realms of traversal, gunplay, little basic refinements you should expect but the game in essence still contains the same sort of content. Granted I’m grateful that it hasn’t become a bona-fide DLC fest like other Square Enix IPs, but being the most graphically intense thing on PC is not a move forward in game quality.
Even with the story, very little steps are taken forward. While there are a good solid number of twists and turns to hook your interest and reel it in, in essence Lara stopped evolving about 3 hours into the first game. The game tries to cover a few topics: The meaning of family, power, duty and whether doing what is right can be worth the cost. But it is all ham-fisted and not really done well at all. Physically she hasn’t really developed as she is still the stylish gymnast she was in the first game, only now with two climbing axes instead of one. I remember the big furore in the first game when Lara killed her first person, the emotions of fear and the horror dawning upon her that she has done this. But current Lara kills with absolute abandon. Her going for treasure is only really done because whoever else gets it would be bad, and then accepts the horrendous consequences of her actions instead. Faint glimmers of emotion appear, with a sequence in Croft Manor giving detail to a happy child who loved adventure for the mystery over duty and the emotional turmoil of Jonah’s several near-deaths. But once she finds Jonah alive its back on the path.
The reason this development doesn’t happen is because it isn’t needed. It’s only needed enough to make several set-pieces occur and then it’s pushed aside. Tomb Raider hasn’t developed because it really couldn’t. Everything you could do was in the first game. That might be why they hype graphics so hard.
WHAT’S IT WORTH?
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the essence of ‘more of the same.’ More traversal, gunplay, wandering big open worlds swiping everything not nailed down. The story is a bit loose in some places leaving big questions unanswered. The gameplay just has not changed in the slightest. It’s Tomb Raider DLC, and therefore will not upset old fans or add new fans.
It is not a long game either, and though the season pass will have more content to add you can power through the game quickly and ignore a lot of the side content without issue. But if you just want to close that book on the Tomb Raider story then I would say this game is worth:
Square Enix may claim that buying this game at that price will make Tomb Raider an unsustainable series but in all honesty it could just be the third part of a really long Tomb Raider game. Plus there isn’t even any Croft Manor in this one besides a small flashback sequence.
I’ve been trying to avoid filler games, because quality of content is not beaten by quantity of content. Quite a few games I’ve considered for this series have been dismissed because all the side content is filler with the last one considered being Watch Dogs 2. Filler is not really content, it’s timewasting, it’s aiming for a number of hours in-game rather than playing the game. Shadow of the Tomb Raider could have avoided being a game with filler. But they aimed for that number of hours over quality of hours, and didn’t even give us more Croft Manor