Hands-On: Shadow of the Tomb Raider Proves Lara Croft is the Ultimate Hunter | Tech News
I got my first taste of Shadow of the Tomb Raider back during this year’s Tribeca Games festival. At the event, we were shown an extended demo that showcased the story and gameplay. At the time, I desperately wanted to play it. I am a massive fan of Tomb Raider, after all. Thankfully, I got my wish during E3 when I checked out the game in the NVIDIA meeting room. Spoiler warning: I really liked what I experienced.
This demo ran on a PC with a GeForce 1080Ti graphics card. I played Rise of the Tomb Raider on my own PC which has a GTX 1080 card. I thought that was mind-blowing, but Shadow of the Tomb Raider running on a 1080Ti completely destroys it. The game looks absolutely stunning. The only drawback with the demo is that I had to play with a mouse and keyboard. I’ve only ever played Tomb Raider (and 99.9% of all games) with a controller. Despite that, I managed to complete the entire 20-minute long demo; even if it wasn’t as elegantly as I would have liked.
Most of the playable parts of the demo took place within a labyrinthine cave. This meant I had to flex my platforming skills in order to progress. Even though I didn’t need to do so for the demo, I made sure to pick up items found on the ground and read all of the inscriptions on the walls. Basically, doing Tomb Raider-y things. The highlight of this section was going underwater where I had to watch out for falling rocks and giant eels. As a person who is afraid of being underwater (don’t judge me!), this was intense stuff! Despite my inexperience with mouse and keyboard, I found the controls smooth and precise.
The demo ends with a massive firefight against a group of Trinity soldiers. Under normal circumstances, I would have no problems with a combat scenario like this. However, with a mouse and keyboard, it was exponentially more challenging. Thankfully, it’s now possible to end encounters by hiding from foes for long enough. I took my time and silently killed all of my enemies, shooting only when I absolutely had to. I knew the game places a bigger emphasis on stealth combat, but it was nice to experience this first hand.
Going into further detail about stealth, I love how Lara can now better use the environment to hide and attack. I can see why this game takes place in a jungle. It opens up stealth in new and creative ways. Like before, Lara can conceal herself within bushes and massive leaves on the ground. She can also hide inside of plants which cover the sides of buildings. I didn’t experience this in the demo, but Lara can also cover herself in mud to make herself invisible to foes. Basically, you can live out your fantasy of being Arnold Schwarzenegger from Predator. Lara can also instill fear in foes similar to the way Batman does in the Arkham series. This is a Lara Croft you do not want to mess with.
Story-wise, I didn’t see anything that wasn’t already shown during the Tribeca Games festival demo. As the developers have stated, this installment focuses more on Lara’s journey of finally becoming the “Tomb Raider.” Things won’t go smoothly, and we’ll see our hero possibly doing some decidedly unheroic things along the way. Is Lara Croft truly the “good guy” in this tale? The fact the game is even raising that type of question shows Eidos’ willingness to push boundaries with the character. If this demo is anything to go by, our hero is going to get tested in many ways.
I’m a big fan of the current iteration of Tomb Raider so this demo has only gotten me more hyped than I already was. In 20 minutes, it showed me everything I wanted to see. Namely, story, combat, stealth, platforming, and puzzles. I didn’t get to face off against any land animals like panthers, but I suppose I can wait to play the full game to experience that. I’m sure there are even more gameplay surprises awaiting gamers, as well as narrative twists and turns. I can’t wait to see what Square-Enix and Eidos Interactive have in store for us.
The only question I have now is: should I upgrade my graphics card to experience Shadow of the Tomb Raider in all of its eye-bleedingly awesome glory? I have until now and September 14 to make that decision, I suppose. If not, I can always play the game on Xbox One or PS4. I’m sure the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro versions of the game will look stunning as well. Whatever platform you play on, do yourself a favor and check out Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
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