Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure game. As the third game in the trilogy of Lara Croft's origin story, you play as a darker, more brutal Lara as she hurries to stop a Mayan apocalypse from destroying the world.
Pro Realistic stealth gameplay where you get to stalk and hunt through the shadows
Shadow of the Tomb Raider gives you a lot of ways to sneak around and hunt your enemies compared to the previous games in the trilogy. The biggest feature is getting to cover yourself with mud as camouflage to hide in the bushes. Sneaking from bush to bush and planning out your attacks is intense, since you have so many options of hiding in this bush or that shadow as you stalk your targets. Getting the drop on your target is satisfying, especially when you kill someone and disappear right back into the bushes before anyone spots you. It's some of the best stealth gameplay around because of how real it feels.
Pro Aggressive third-person shooting and melee combat
The combat in Shadow of the Tomb Raider shows more of Lara's raw and aggressive fighting this time around. Shooting with guns or arrows feels satisfying with plenty of feedback, especially the hard kick from the game's many different shotguns. The enemy AI is active without feeling cheap, keeping you moving from place to place as you take down everyone in your path. If you choose to be more predatory before jumping in with melee combat, Lara has some really bloody and brutal kill animations with a huge knife. Combat is fast-paced and fun, constantly keeping you on your toes.
Pro Lots of opportunities to explore the world and solve challenging puzzles
Compared to the first two games, Shadow of the Tomb Raider gives you way more chances to roam around the environments and solve some great puzzles in various tombs. The lush forests are perfect for exploring at your own pace, climbing around and taking in the beautiful view of the world. There's a lively hub city filled with plenty of people, with markets for you to barter at and NPCs to talk to in order to learn more about the history of the location. And solving puzzles inside of tombs is a welcome challenge, rewarding you with unique gear and loot that's absolutely worth going after. If you don't want to spend most of your time fighting enemies, you have plenty of freedom to skip that and take your time to look around and soak in the world instead.
Pro Great cinematic cutscenes
Like the first two rebooted Tomb Raider games, the overall presentation of the plot in Shadow of the Tomb Raider is gripping in how cinematic it is. Some of the set pieces are wild, like Lara wrestling with deadly marine life in the water and managing to break free and survive. The way she thinks herself out of tough situations is also impressive, such as with the way the camera follows her with closeups as she wriggles her way out of traps or takes down enemies who seemingly have the upper hand over her. The direction and acting are similar to those in action movies, telling a grand and intense story.
Con Bland story
The story in Shadow of the Tomb Raider is just okay. There are some exciting action scenes and impressive setpieces, which is great. It's more that the writing is too boring and safe. The plot picks up two months after where Rise of the Tomb Raider left off, with Lara trying to stop an apocalypse that her main nemesis wants to bring about. There are a few interesting ideas here, like showing a darker side to Lara in how far she's willing to go to do the right thing, even if it means turning into her enemy. Sadly, the writers didn't do enough with this concept, since the rest of the narrative is standard and uninspiring. It's too bad, because this plot had plenty of potential to show off a lot more.
Con The gameplay hasn't changed much from the first two games
If you've played Tomb Raider (2013) and Rise of the Tomb Raider, then you might find that this one is way too similar. Aside from the neat changes to stealth and melee combat, too much stays the same. The same story beats, the same feel to the gameplay, and basically going through the same motions as the first two games. It just feels like the devs didn't innovate nearly enough for this big finale to the trilogy, keeping things safe and familiar without taking meaningful risks.