September 16, 2021

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Shadow of the Tomb Raider review – latest reboot makes small strides but remains a shadow of the originals

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Care of a battered hand-me-down disc, Tomb Raider 2 is one of the very first games I remember playing that had something resembling character. Lara Croft was an unstoppable force, smirking in the face of danger and racing forward to the next challenge. She was beautiful and curvaceous, yes, and intelligent too. She was also a millionaire who could afford home gyms and butlers and walk-in freezers – she didn’t need the money or the infamy that all these dusty old relics provided. That’s why I loved her; she did it all and risked everything just for the thrill of the hunt, and had a damn good time while she did it.

That Lara was dead and buried in her tiny 90s sunglasses with 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot, which cast Croft as a frightened and shaken ingenue thrust into horrific circumstances on the island of Yamatai, where she was forced to do whatever she could to survive. This chain of events supposedly started her down the path to becoming an iconic adventurer, but ever since that outing, I’ve been waiting for her to regain that thrill-seeking bravado that I fell in love with, which coincidentally happened to be the reason she’s willing to put herself in any of these ridiculous life-threatening situations in the first place. After playing this, the third of the prequel trilogy and the first from Eidos Montreal, I’m sadly still waiting.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider starts with an interesting idea – to explore the negative repercussions to all this selfish snatching and storing of ancient artefacts that simply don’t belong to you. Since revelations involving the Croft family that came to light at the close of Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara has become ever more obsessed by vaguely evil and omnipotent corporation Trinity. But this single-mindedness betrays her, as in her hurry to stop Trinity from possessing a ritual Mayan dagger, she takes it herself and in doing so sets the lead-up to an honest to goodness apocalypse in motion. Whoops.

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