The new Tomb Raider’s freshest idea is the floating of a question: What if all this tomb raiding that Lara Croft does indicates that she is a treasure-plundering jerk who wrecks other people’s cultures and, worse, their lives?
Despite the navel-gazing self-reflection that question implies, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is not a dreary buzzkill. It’s fun and beautiful and is a lengthy adventure full of enjoyable Tomb Raidery things. It’s built on the sturdy traditions of the 22-year-old franchise and uses most of the same smart systems for exploration and combat that were introduced in 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot and refined in 2015’s Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Once more you make your way into an exotic location, climbing and puzzle-solving your way through tombs, ruins, and enemy installations. Once more you engage in a combination of platforming, puzzle-solving, exploration, and combat, usually sneaking around with a bow and arrow before alerting a guard and transitioning into outright gunplay. Once more you gradually level up Lara Croft as you attain more experience points and virtual gold to spend on new skills, outfits and weapons.