Shadow of the Tomb Raider Is a Looker, but Gameplay Is Divisive
Lara Croft has returned yet again, and this time Eidos Montreal has taken the character in a darker direction. The youthful student of yore is gone, and we’re left with a highly competent – if self-absorbed – tomb raiding hard ass.
The Tomb Raider reboot series is well known for its tech. The first installment’s TressFX showcase was revolutionary, the sequel blew the doors off for animation and deformation, and now Shadow of the Tomb Raider gives us a gorgeous open-world jungle for Lara to sneak around. The question is: Can this new team live up to Crystal D’s finest work?
Some outlets are significantly colder on Shadow than they were on the last installment, but our sister site IGN assigned it an Amazing score of 9/10 – only a fraction away from Rise of the Tomb Raider. Lucy O’Brien, IGN’s reviewer for both titles, calls Shadow of the Tomb Raider the “most ambitious of the modern trilogy.” The focus on stealth and puzzle-solving is undoubtedly compelling, but much of the side content didn’t draw her in.
Metacritic has collected 47 reviews for the Xbox One version, and the game is sitting at 83/100 on average. Gamespot‘s reception was surprisingly lukewarm, and the Telegraph’s review of the PS4 version comes in at just 2/5 – extremely critical of the finished product. It’s clear that fewer people are wowed by Edios Montreal’s take on the franchise, but your mileage may vary since this stealthier Tomb Raider is extremely polarizing.
Digital Foundry’s analysis shows that the game looks gorgeous across the board, but performance is fairly uneven in some circumstances. In particular, the Xbox One S struggles to keep a regular 30fps in some locations despite only running at 900p – a drop from the resolution we saw in the previous installment.
The standard PS4 sticks to the bread and butter 1080p30 setup we’d expect, and it’s a bit better than the stock Xbox One, but stress points can still get the better of Sony’s console at times. DF praises the overall visual quality on both older machines, and the temporal anti-aliasing being used here is largely to thank.
Both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X enjoy two modes: High resolution and high frame rate. When you favor resolution, the frame rate is capped to 30fps, but the resolution is boosted to 1872p on Pro and 2016p on X. Favor frame rate, and you’ll get an unsteady 60fps at just 1080p. Let’s just say that some additional optimizations would be very welcome.
On the PC side, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is even better. And oddly enough, the game goes out of its way to recommend using DirectX 12. Based on early results, DF has found that using it can make a big difference in performance. So if you have a relatively new gaming PC, you’re in for a real treat.
Eidos Montreal has served as a decent steward for Tomb Raider, but now we’re interested to see what this studio does beyond this franchise and Deus Ex. More importantly, what is Crystal Dynamics really up to? It’s been a while since we heard about their Avengers game, and we’re itching to learn more. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait until E3 2019 rolls around.