Shadow of the Tomb Raider will show us a new side of Lara Croft in her rebooted role — going from a silent killer in the jungle to a single-minded enemy of Trinity, the evil organization that killed her father. Now, we’ll find out just how far Lara is willing to go to achieve her ambitions.
The Eidos Montreal and Square Enix game debuts on consoles and the PC on September 14, and it will be on display next week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles. I love the strong character that the Tomb Raider developers have been creating, and I’ll never get tired of seeing Lara’s many faces.
Gone is the innocent Lara from the rebooted Tomb Raider in 2013. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, she has an encyclopedic knowledge of archaeology and mythology, but she has also learned to be a cold-blooded killer when facing the evils of Trinity.
Now, she’ll spend time hiding in forests and jungles in a race to uncover a Mayan secret. In her ambition to beat Trinity, she causes what could be a world-ending catastrophe.
I had a chance to play an extended demo of the game in advance of E3, and I liked the little thing that Eidos Montreal has remembered in crafting this tale: character development. It matters — and so does a good story.
The deadly Mayan jungle
In the jungle, Lara has learned to strike fear in the enemy. She paints mud on her face and body to blend into the terrain. She sneaks around in the trees, plunging downward with brutal strikes. She can use her bow to achieve silent kills or come in close with a knife to skewer her foes. Now, it’s about mastery, and Lara becomes an “apex human predator” as she goes after Trinity.
“Shadow of the Tomb Raider is about a defining moment, as she becomes the Tomb Raider and learns the one thing that separates her from someone else,” said Jill Murray, lead writer for the game, at a media event.
She becomes one with the jungle, blending into the greenery and climbing the trees to escape notice. She can use psychological combat to strike fear in enemies, who can kill each other in moments of panic.
But just as Lara becomes confident in her abilities, she oversteps. She grasps at an artifact and, through her ignorance of it, sets in motion the wheels of the apocalypse. Seemingly a consequence of her actions, a catastrophic flood ensues.
Lara has so many close calls in the flood scene that I started to wonder if the action was ever going to end. It was an exhausting experience.
As much as we appreciate Lara’s need to right something that she has done wrong, Jonah fires back at her, saying, “Not everything is about you.”
Lara’s story is moving along a timeline toward greater experience and veterancy. I find the middle of the journey to be the most riveting, when she has doubts and anguish. It’s so much more interesting than when she has 100 percent confidence and unforgettable swagger. Let’s hope that she never fully gets there. The plot of Shadow of the Tomb Raider has her moving along in experience level with her mastery of the jungle, but just when she gets overconfident, the flood sets her back and humbles her.