Here’s Why Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the Worst of the Reboot Trilogy

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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.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

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.

Poor Writing

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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.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

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.

Limited Environments

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.

Lara’s character

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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.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Lara’s voice-acting

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!

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These things really bothered me to the point of almost quitting the game. What are your thoughts on this topic?

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Further reading:

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Areej
I love computer hardware and RPGs, and those two things are what drove me to start TechQuila. Other than that most of my time goes into reading psychology, writing (and reading) dark poetry and playing games.

4 Comments

  1. Cant agree with you…though havent played shadow yet but th first two parts were an exhilarating ride. It was quite a refreshing take on Lara as a charachter that we have only symbolised as a sex symbol more than a adventure lover taking on epic battles. This lara is different in every aspect and the change is welcome. Shadow looked good though some of the stuffs looked repeated..but still have it to play it..

  2. I came here because Shadow of the Tomb Raider was by far the worst of the three and I wanted to find out what other people thought. But I’m not sure I agree with everything in this article. I like the Maya, Aztec, and Inca worlds. I liked Lara’s voice acting, and her acting chops were not why I hated the game story.

    I hated how they took a real human struggling to leave her mark, and turned her into Schwarzenegger battling the Predator. That was dumb. The bad guy wasn’t all that bad. The good guys weren’t all that good. People were unreasonable and the world of South America felt small. It felt like Game of Thrones season 8. Good build up to a stupid end.

  3. I’m here belatedly, and I agree with the article. In fact, I’d have liked a more in-depth analysis of why Areej found Shadow so disappointing. A lack of personality, fun, and recycled environments, plus a really slow pace ruined it for me. Right after my last session of Shadow, I returned to Uncharted 2 on the PS4 Pro. U2 is a decade older than Shadow, yet looks better, plays better with its tighter controls, overflows with personality, has far better characters, and has an ever evolving and fast-paced plot. Okay, so Uncharted 2’s graphics have been overhauled, but the core game is unchanged. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a tedious chore, and Lara is so robotic compared to the the rounded personalities of Nathan Drake, etc. I loved Tomb Raider 2013, but each successive game has been worse. Rise wasn’t bad, actually, but Shadow really is poor.

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