Aside from the main course, like its predecessors, Lara is given an array of different tombs to explore, various side-missions, and a level-system to further its playability. Something I'd heard thrown around before Shadow's release was trepidation that the change in developer might cause them to scale back some of the game features, as well as other aspects. From my end, this didn't appear to be the case, and I can't think of anything too significant that's missing from Shadow of the Tomb Raider that was in Rise of the Tomb Raider. With that said, I can't think of very many new things that were added to the experience either. As much as I liked Rise of the Tomb Raider, it's unfortunate how so much of Shadow of the Tomb Raider feels like a beat-by-beat retread.
Speaking of re-treading familiar territory, I think it's finally time I divulge the reason I started this review off with a walk down memory-lane, discussing the numerous large-scale glitches I've encountered with the Tomb Raider series. I did so because, once again, I encountered a game-breaking glitch, and more than that, this entry in the Tomb Raider series has the flimsiest structural foundation of the franchise yet. This sounds harsh – but, imagine buying Shadow of the Tomb Raider on-release, ignoring other highly-anticipated series' like the Spyro Re-Ignited Trilogy and Spider-Man because of how much you wanted to revisit the Lara Croft character. Then, imagine how you'd feel if the camera-angles were so out-of-whack and jittery that your view would unexpectedly shoot to the sky in the middle of crucial plat-forming or gun-play? Imagine un-installing and re-installing Tomb Raider over and over and over again, only to find the problem continues to persist. Imagine gritting through all that frustration, then, discovering you can't adjust your skill-set or change your weaponry, keeping you from being able to equipped the proper equipment to even finish the story-mode. I went through that, and then, nearly four months later, I restarted the whole campaign and only then, was I able to finish the campaign, and the camera-angles were finicky and problematic. Honestly, I was willing to overlook this problem if it went away in my second go-around. I hadn't heard very many others complain about the issue and so, it seemed isolated. However, the fact it still remains and the fact I bought it from the PlayStation Store means there's no reason I should encounter this.
Although Shadow of the Tomb Raider debunks some of the series' biggest flaws, in-particular the arguable “plainness” of its main-heroine, its ability to create dramatic, suspenseful conflict continues to suffer. Our main-antagonist holds a sameness, and the battle with Trinity is the same dance we've done since what feels like forever. We've sent Trinity blasting off again so many times that the twinkle in the sky is no longer as bright as it once was. It's an issue that's inherent with Tomb Raider and Uncharted alike, where, while the series' remain fun, they have trouble diversifying the central conflict the longer the series' go on. Our guy wants the treasure, bad guys want it to. Rinse and repeat. It isn't a damning aspect. In-particular, Shadow of the Tomb Raider's effort to dramatize Lara Croft's character also freshens up the conflict some as well. It simply isn't enough to step out of the rest of the series, ahem, shadow. The side-missions and further emphasis on tombs is appreciated as well. Alas, like making a castle with dry-sand, it doesn't really stick, serving less as an adhesive creation and more as a large-pile of great, good, and so-so ideas.
The aesthetics and production-value have remained operating on all cylinders, backed by enticing and inspired sound, Shadow of the Tomb Raider maintains a high-caliber presentation standard that shouldn't be taken for granted.
I certainly have my bone to pick with the series because of all the technical issues I've encountered over the years. The more it happens, the more difficult it becomes to get excited about future entries. Regardless, so long as you can keep from having your name drawn from the hat, Shadow of the Tomb Raider provides a solid addition to the Tomb Raider series. Its story won't blow you away, but you might appreciate some of the new layers they add to the main-character. The game-play is nothing you haven't seen, but it does return to the tried-and-true plat-forming, puzzle-solving, and shooting that has made Tomb Raider such a successful series. Despite its flaws, it's still an above-average video-game.