Lara’s back in arguably her finest adventure yet.
But with the likes of FIFA 19 hitting the shelves this month, she faces a huge challenge yet when it comes to grabbing gamers’ attention.
Thankfully, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a very, very good game – and builds on what fans have come to expect from Lara’s two previous outings.
Still need convincing? Here are five things you should know before you go out and buy it.
It’s not that different from the last two titles
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Square Enix struck gold when they rebooted Lara Croft back in 2012 – blending gritty action with ‘sandbox-style’ level design and Uncharted-inspired set pieces.
Rise of the Tomb Raider then followed in 2015 – and represented an improvement in nearly all areas. It offered bigger, more complex levels, more action and, of course, more tombs.
Shadow builds on this formula yet again – giving the player more freedom to play the game how they want to.
The result is a game that feels familiar, sometimes overly so, but provides more of everything that made the last two adventures so great.
Lara’s a killing machine
One of the most memorable parts of the first game was watching Lara transform from timid archaeologist to hardened warrior.
In Shadow, she’s very much the assassin – having knocked up a body count the size of a small country.
It’s slightly unnerving watching how easily she can mow down hordes of baddies – especially when, just a few years ago, she shed a tear when forced to kill a deer for food.
Thankfully, gunplay is just as fun as you remember. Weapons can be upgraded with quirks and attachments, while the bow and arrow returns with aplomb.
The skills tree is back – letting you upgrading combat, exploration or resource gathering traits. Oh, and you can now cover yourself with mud to sneak up on unsuspecting enemies – pretty cool.
There’s plenty to do
The main story will take you about 15 hours to complete – but you’ll likely get distracted along the way.
Tombs are more varied this time – ranging from Spanish galleons to cliff side waterways. With bags of treasure and XP on offer that you can use to upgrade your gear, there’s plenty of incentive to go off the beaten track.
Puzzles are back with a bang, too – and are the finest yet in the series. Each one has its own mechanics while adjustable difficulty is on hand should you find them too tough.
For the first time in the series (although some areas of Rise of the Tomb Raider touched at this), Lara can walk around interact with NPCs – helping the world feel more alive than ever.
Add to the mix a generous helping of side-quests and play time could well hit 30 hours.
The action set pieces will blow your mind
Shadow wouldn’t be a Tomb Raider game without set pieces and thankfully it does not disappoint.
Eating on the move
Lara can eat plants on-the-fly that give her temporary abilities.
One, for example, reduces damage taken by enemies. Another slows down time making for awesome, John Woo-style shootouts.
Lara only takes a few shots to bring her down, meaning you’ll always be on the lookout for anything to give her a combat advantage.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is out now on Xbox One, PC and PS4.