The jungle is your friend: Shadow of the Tomb Raider hands-on preview

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Square Enix, Eidos-Montreal, and Crystal Dynamics have released the full trailer for Shadow of the Tomb Raider today, and soon players will get to embark on a journey in the South American jungle filled with all sorts of danger. Lara is looking deadlier than ever, and if you check out the key art, she is definitely on the hunt. The development team promises that this game will make Lara the Tomb Raider we all know and love.

I was invited to the Shadow of the Tomb Raider reveal event at The Mayan in Downtown Los Angeles and had the chance to play a one-hour demo. So far the game is shaping up very nicely, and fans are definitely in for a treat with the game’s story, stealth, action, puzzles and platforming. For those of you worried about Lara Croft’s facial design in the CG cinematic trailer, don’t worry. The actual in-game graphics brings back the face model we recognize from Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Day of the Dead

Shadows of the Tomb Raider day of the dead mexico

The demo starts off with Lara and Jonah Maiava in a Mexican town having a discussion about their mission. Seeing Jonah again makes me happy since he’s been a good moral compass for Lara and has appeared by her side in the previous two games. The two are tracking an artifact and the whereabouts of Trinity, the organization that has been a thorn in their sides. The good news is that Lara has a chance to be ahead of the game be heading to Peru. Trinity has been searching in the wrong place in Brazil.

Once the cutscene is over, you get to control Lara in the Mexican town during the Day of the Dead celebration. It’s a sight to see as the locals are wearing the Day of the Dead makeup and masks. With Trinity closeby and on the lookout for Lara, Jonah suggests that she disguise herself by wearing a mask as to not attract attention.

Enter Dominguez, a leader within Trinity whom Lara believes is the actual leader of the entire organization. He believes that what he’s doing is for the good of mankind and that Lara is the bad guy. This actually made me second-guess Lara’s intentions, and made me wonder if he really has the noblest of intentions. Now this is a villain I can root for, similar to Kingpin in Netflix’s Daredevil.

Stealth Is Back

Shadows of the Tomb Raider jungle stealth

I am once again introduced to the stealth mechanics, and here the jungle is Lara’s friend. You can blend in with the vines or hide in the bushes. Once an enemy is nearby, you can perform a stealth kill with your knife or ax. Throwable items return, and you can use them to distract the enemies. Her main weapon of choice, the bow and arrow, is back, and it’s the perfect weapon for silent takedowns. Of course, you can opt to blow your cover and blast the enemies away with handguns and automatic weapons.

Puzzles and Ruins

Shadows of the Tomb Raider ruin

Of course, puzzles and platforming are back, and the demo had plenty of them as you climb, jump, zip line, and swing. The newest addition to the series is the ability to rappel after digging an ax into the wall. Once you’re hooked, you can rappel down to an unreachable area. Other than that, fans will be familiar with using the bow and arrow with the rope to pull damaged pathways and to reach another platform.

Underwater Tension

Shadows of the Tomb Raider underwater

Lara will be faced with another deadly obstacle, water. After Lara has acquired the artifact from a ruin, it sets in motion a deadly flood that wreaks havoc to the Mexican town. It gets very chaotic, and I had to navigate Lara to safety as she gets trapped underwater. As the chaos ensues, the locals are seen trying to survive. There’s even a sequence where Lara tries to save a young boy; however, that ended very badly.

With Lara finally at a safe distance, she meets up with Jonah again. People have been dying left and right, but it looks like Lara is unphased by it. She is so consumed with having a lead on Trinity that she really doesn’t care about saving the locals. Jonah is furious about Lara not having time to help out the victims and pleads with her to help him. This is one of my favorite scenes in the entire trilogy, as you can tell that Jonah is hurt that Lara is becoming less empathetic. Then again, she believes that stopping Trinity is more important since more people may die. After having a brief encounter with Dominguez, I’m hoping that he enters a gray area where players will question whether he really is bad.

With Crystal Dynamics behind the wheel, I’m pretty confident that it will be able to deliver another solid game once Shadow of the Tomb Raider is released. Lara will finally become the Tomb Raider.

Check out the full Shadow of the Tomb Raider trailer below.

Synopsis: In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lara must master a deadly jungle, overcome terrifying tombs, and persevere through her darkest hour. As she races to save the world from a Maya apocalypse, Lara will be forged into the Tomb Raider she is destined to be.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be available on September 14, 2018 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

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