Preview: ‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider’ strength lies in its ambiguity

The “Tomb Raider” reboot has been successful because it puts Lara Croft and players in difficult situations. The first game rewrote her origin story and revealed a newcomer struggling to survive against cultists on the island of Yamatai. The sequel explored her family history and lifted the curtain on Trinity, the organization that plays the Spectre to Croft’s James Bond.

Now, the third entry to the series “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” puts Lara Croft in the most unlikeliest of roles — villain. While racing Trinity to a relic in Mexico, the hero may have unintentionally started the apocalypse by grabbing a Mayan dagger. The artifact is tied to a box and without it, the world would end, according Dr. Dominguez, a Trinity leader.

He manages to escape with the dagger after holding up Lara who just survived a tsunami. Is that disaster a sign of the apocalypse or is it coincidence? Is Lara really the bad guy this time around or is stopping Trinity important enough to perform any deed? “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” challenges players and Lara by giving both plenty of ambiguity.

The narrative is one that straddles the line of realism and the fantastic. It’s something that the “Tomb Raider” reboot has excelled at. As Lara uncovers the mysteries behind a seemingly magical treasure, she discovers the truth behind it.

In past games though, the adventures have always been self-contained and limited to remote parts of the world. This time around, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal have created a campaign built on a bigger scale. With the possible apocalypse looming the background, players see a Mexican town destroyed in a tsunami. Lara will explore South American jungles and uncover inhabited towns full of people.

All of this makes “Tomb Raider” feel more like a role-playing game. Lara can go into the town of Kuwaq Yaku in Peru and chat with the inhabitants. She gets clues that uncovers side quests and a shop that has guns, ammos and items that help her on her quest.

Elsewhere, she can uncover crypts and other small dungeons that hold prizes such as special armor. These pieces of clothing — they come in a top and bottom — give Lara stat boosts. The vest and boots of the empress jaguar, an item obtained by killing a boss, grants the hero improved stealth, making it hard for enemies to find Lara. Meanwhile, Nine Strides’ boots, which can be found in a crypt, lets Lara harvest more man-made materials from a source.

Along with the RPG elements, Lara has some new moves at her disposal. In “Shadow of the Tomb Raider,” she has a grappling hook that lets her rappel down cliffs and wall run. The tool lets her explore more vertical areas. She also had the ability to put mud on herself and blend in the background. It’s an ideal move for those who play using stealth.

On the whole, it’s often better to sneak around and kill foes with the bow and arrow and ice axe rather than …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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