Tomb Raider is one of the most successful franchises in video gaming history. With multiple big budget Hollywood releases, there is barely any gamer, young or old who hasn’t heard of Lara Croft and her daring adventures. However, the rebooted trilogy has been a mixed experience with lousy writing and overly used settings. The very first game was a refreshing entry in the adventure genre with engaging mechanics, albeit a mediocre story. The second game retained the plus points while also working on the rough edges and is by far the best the trilogy has to offer. Shadow of the Tomb Raider may be the most visually appealing, it was ultimately a letdown and I’d recommend all but the most hardcore fans to avoid it like the plague.
It isn’t a bad game by any means. However, it just takes the franchise in the direction of an already saturated adventure genre that is full of unremarkable stereotypes:
A Cliched Setting
The Mayan civilization, however impressive it may have been, has been depicted countless times. It just isn’t interesting anymore. To make matters worst, Shadow of the Tomb Raider adopts the apocalyptic side of the Mayan lore. I do appreciate the apocalypse in games as much as the next gamer, but the Mayan version has been used too many freaking times by modern media. For some of us, it’s just a big bore now.
While the first game in the trilogy was less than impressive in the writing department, Rise was somewhat of an improvement. Unfortunately, Shadow of the Tomb Raider takes everything good about its predecessor and drains it down the pooper. There is one thing about Western games that I absolutely love, and that is how they explain all kinds of seemingly miraculous phenomena, no matter how bizarre the explanation may be. It is a fairly reasonable one within the game’s universe.
None of the games in the Tomb Raider trilogy attempt this and the explanation of the cataclysms and apparent apocalypse is left to old gods and curses which honestly isn’t very satisfying.
One of the better things about Rise were the diverse environments. You’ve got Syria, a hot and humid region, Russia with its snowy climate and the temperate setting of the Geothermal Valley. Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the other hand features the tropical rain-forests of the Amazon basin in pretty much every area. Another positive aspect of Rise that the concluding game in the trilogy decided to dump.
In the first two games, Lara is portrayed as a young but talented archeologist who has a knack for following in her father’s footsteps. Her character suited the story and the franchise. However, in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, by the later half of the game, she takes on a darker personality, something a certain section of the audience might approve of, but isn’t quite practical and doesn’t fit in well with the rest of the game.
I left this for the end as it’s not one of the more pressing issues. From the very first game, Lara’s voice acting felt a bit off. It isn’t subpar, but just lacks emotion, almost as if you can tell someone is reading it off a script. This may or may not have bothered you as much, but perhaps now that I’ve pointed it out, it’ll be more noticeable!
These things really bothered me to the point of almost quitting the game. What are your thoughts on this topic?