Shadow of the Tomb Raider - First Look
Under the cover of night in Mayan ruins, surrounded by the ambient sounds of rain and wildlife, I sipped a lukewarm coffee and checked my watch. The line for the newest Tomb Raider was long and moved slowly, but the excitement was palpable.
Square Enix pulled out all the stops for the area, turning it in to the ruins of one of the Mayan temples Lara will be desecrating in the newest addition to the long-running Tomb Raider series. They did a great job of using the fallen pillars and vines to really isolate the area so you could get immersed.
Even better, they had a fully decked out cosplayer walking up and down the line, asking trivia questions and giving out 20th anniversary patches to the speediest among us. I earned mine by remembering the horrifying encounter with a giant squid at the beginning of Tomb Raider: Underworld, which feels a bit less traumatic now that I got something in return.
The demo itself was run a little differently than most others, letting you play through an entire level instead of being cut-off at a time limit. This is of course the reason for the long line, but was probably done with the few puzzle sections in mind so that you could really sink your teeth in.
I'm not sure if the level was taken directly from the game or created specifically for the demo, but it's likely the prologue as it sets the scene for the story's events. It introduced all of the game's main mechanics: stealth, shooting, puzzle-solving, climbing, and putting Lara's life in peril. Overall it was great, giving a nice taste of everything without any part dragging on for too long. My only critique, and it may have to do with pacing specific to the demo, was at one point the solution to a problem was a move that hadn't been explained yet, despite the wall giving the same visual clue as a different move you had just been shown. That being said, this might be smoothed out in the final version and anyone who's played the previous games will be pretty familiar with the controls already. Other than that, everything ran smoothly and looked great, giving a nice update to an already very solid franchise.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider launches September 14 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.