Archery Popshots | Shadow of the Tomb Raider
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Archery Popshots | Shadow of the Tomb Raider

August 16, 2019

Well, Lara’s back, and once again she brings
her bow in the third instalment of the rebooted Tomb Raider series. Does Shadow of the Tomb
Raider bring a new light to the series, or is it a shadow of its former past? And for
us toxophiles, is archery still cool? As with the previous two Tomb Raider games,
Lara has to do everything from the beginning. Her journey to Peru comes crashing down to
earth, and she’s left with her trusty recurve bow. In fact, the bow is the most prominent
weapon, with segments of the game locking Lara into fighting in traditional style, with
the bow as her primary weapon, though of course she has access to her usual arsenal in other
segments. In what is definitely a cornerstone of the
series, Lara has to use her bow to hunt animals for resources and defend against hostile predators.
Doing this in the South American rainforest adds an exotic edge, and it really feels like
you are fighting for survival. Once you encounter the hired guns, the bow
becomes your go-to weapon for stealth, important as your suppressor options for guns are harder
and more expensive to come by. Several unlockable abilities give you familiar skills – shoot
arrows in rapid succession, and the overpowered multi-headshot skill that can instantaneously
take out up three enemies. Though, in this instalment, the less frequent combat sequences
and slower shooting speeds tone down Lara’s archery prowess. Initially, the bow’s silent ranged kills
kind of make the whole stealth mechanics redundant, but in later sections enemies have more armour
and health, making them more difficult to take down and triggering an active fight.
As mentioned earlier, the flow of combat feels different. Enemies are more inclined to get
up close and personal, forcing you to take evasive action. The bow feels slower, and
with the auto-headshot skill requiring you to be zoomed in, it’s more awkward to fiddle
around with, forcing you to take faster body shots or switch to alternative weapons. I
actually don’t mind this, as it does balance out the other items, though this is the first
time in the series where I felt that it was genuinely easier to pull out your assault
rifle. Shadow offers the largest selection of bows
yet. While previous games went with a recurve and compound balance, Lara can obtain numerous
recurve bows through missions and merchants. Weapons are more distinctly specialised in
damage and speed, giving players some more flexibility in how they want to approach combat.
Upgrades are back too – by gathering resources, Lara can improve the stats of each weapon. Honestly, these traditional bows look really,
really nice. I’d collect these in real life if they were made. As far as tools and function go, things seemed…toned
down. Lara has the usual ability to make ziplines and use rope arrows to solve puzzles, though
few areas require creative use of the bow to progress, which is a bit disappointing.
That’s…actually it for environmental interaction. Lara has three specialised arrows. Fire arrows
return, though there’s really no point in the game when you want to use it apart from
burning the occasional barrier. Poison arrows have been upgraded to lure arrows – the
target is dispatched and nearby enemies are drawn in by obnoxious beeper, causing the
arrow to detonate its poison cloud, making this a very useful option for stealth sections
since you can defeat armoured enemies with little effort. The newest tool is the Fear arrow, which causes
the target to shoot at other enemies. This is my favourite arrow to use, not just because
it’s useful in neutralising patrols, but because it’s funny to watch. Lara also gains the ability to use arrows
to hang enemies from trees, which really adds to the “Predator” edge that the game portrays
Lara to be. With a wide range of abilities and tools, Lara has all she needs to survive
in this jungle paradise. Except… Normally I don’t go into detail about reviewing
the game itself and focus instead on the archery specific elements, but there are a few things
about Shadow that flatten the experience. The focus has clearly shifted to exploration
and, well, tomb raiding. This also means much less emphasis on combat, and the stealth sequences
are paced out…but perhaps a bit too much. One of the common complaints is that the game
doesn’t feature much combat, and with that in mind, the bows don’t really feel that
useful. Craft a few arrows, and the stealth sections are too easy. But the pacing also
means you forget that you can use the tools you have. The tree-hanging ability seems useful,
but it’s the last thing you think of, since you can usually snipe the lone sentry from
the ground or use a special arrow. Combat is clumsier with more melee-focused
fighters, so your bow isn’t very useful and you end up scurrying away until you unlock
the dodge kill ability – which we’ve learned twice already in previous games. Ironically, despite the traditional setting,
it’s almost always better to use firearms, even if you have to go loud. Again, the claustrophobic
environments and in-your-face arrow sponges don’t feel rewarding to play. This isn’t to say that Shadow of the Tomb
Raider is a bad game. It’s very appealing and many fans will like the new setting, though
I personally didn’t enjoy the exploration focus and pacing as much. The archer side
of me didn’t really enjoy this particular instalment compared to the previous two games.
Despite a rainforest being an ideal environment for a rogue archer, Shadow doesn’t quite
hit the mark. Anyway, this is NUSensei. As usual, shoot
straight and aim for your best.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Hey NUSensei, can you do one for dragon dogma dark arisen game? There so much bow mechanic in the game. Longbow and shortbow

  2. It focuses more on the adventuring, like the series used to be. I guess it's a matter of preference, but many fans seem to have requested less action focus.

  3. How/where is the string attached to the recurve bow ? There are string groves at the tips but nothing in them … the string vanishes in the limbs … Also a recurve bow with a dead recurve is kinda ….. strange these days …

  4. id play a new tomb raider if they would use a fallout 4 scale open world , not really into cut scenes wasting time

  5. I love this game ^^ Tomb Raider needs to keep the adventure part like solving puzzles, jump, climb, explore… since the very first Tomb Raider 1996 (in my opinion the best part ever). However, the new game looks amazing and it feels like you're right beside Lara. Archery style is a bit… well… If you look at her while she's aiming the bow (not a charged arrow) her arm position is way to much outside, like the famous chicken wing ^^ If she comes to full draw from this position, the arrow should actually come of her bow hand. YES I know!! it's just a game and it's cool ๐Ÿ˜‰

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