SDCC 2018 Hands-On Impressions: Shadow of the Tomb Raider

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XBOX one version

Having not personally played the previous two entries in the series that lead up to the events in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. My 20 minute demo took me into a Day of the Dead celebration where Lara encounters the organization Trinity, and it’s up to us to find their objective before they do.

I immediately find myself in a tomb where my platforming and puzzle-solving skills are put to the test. Lara is equipped with an array of tools to help her navigate areas such as these as I use my bow to tether ropes to climb across bottomless caverns and my rappelling gear to gain traction on rocky surfaces. These tools combined with moving platforms and crumbling surfaces make for tense moments and require precision timing. Quick-time events popped up to help myself balance on platforms should my jump fall short but never lessened the importance of correct platforming.

Most of the puzzles involved tethering my ropes to mine carts and having them roll into blocked paths so that I could move forward. It’s safe to say that the full game will have a larger variety of puzzles, especially as this was an area from the opening sequence of the game. Clever traps and deadly spikes also shoot out from walls that require a timely dodge-roll to avoid being skewered instantly. Underwater portions were also on display in the tomb, which came as welcome breaks to the dark corners and rocky cliffs that are typically traversed, especially when underwater life tries to hinder your progress.

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Worth the wait

After maneuvering through the tomb Lara finally discovers an ancient dagger that Trinity is so keen to get their hands on. Removing it from its pedastal, however, triggers a collapse of the tomb and the action immediately picks up. Trinity’s men are on guard and Lara’s experience she gained from the previous entries is on full display. From the shadows of tall grass and wall vines I’m able to stealthily aim my bow and dispatch of enemies silently or trigger a take-down with my dagger should they pass close to me.

Stealth wasn’t the only aspect of combat however, as more reinforcements arrived I pillaged a machine gun off of one of Trinity’s goons and forced myself forward.

After mowing down Trinity’s men a cutscene showed Trinity getting the jump on Lara and retrieving the dagger from her. Strangely, they’re angry at Lara for taking it and now feel responsible to end the apocalypse that she’s brought on.

The final sequence of the demo tasked Lara with jumping through flooded streets and ruined buildings in order to get to higher ground where it’s safe. Along the way a boy is trapped on a ledge and Lara watches him plummet to his doom, as she is unable to save him in time.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider promises to tell a poignant story where Lara has to deal with the consequences of her actions and to live with the major decisions that she’s made thus far and will make moving forward. Although I didn’t walk away overly impressed with Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the phenomenal motion capture, voice-over talent, and setting kept me engaged and interested in this upcoming chapter of Lara’s story. Shadow of the Tomb Raider launches for PS4 and XBOX One on September 14th.

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