Int Other 122 Folder Collection
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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.
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Archery Popshots | Shadow of the Tomb Raider

122 Folder Collection
綠豆譯人 published on December 7, 2018    羅世康 translated    Evangeline reviewed
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