Shadow of the Tomb Raider is coming off of the excellent Rise of the Tomb Raider, but with a new developer at the helm (Crystal Dynamics is mostly working on a different project). For the most part, the game continues the successful formula of the previous games since the 2013 reboot and tells a solid story in doing so. However, I can't help but feel underwhelmed. It might be TOO similar to the last game and didn't really take any risks.
I think the story is weaved in nicely throughout the game and tells a darker, more personal story as Lara engages in more self-reflection and realizes some of the consequences of her actions on those around her. The story ends in a somewhat cliche way, but is mostly satisfying on completion. I will say, the acting, writing, and animation on some of the side characters feels repetitive and underdeveloped. This game feels trapped in 2009 (or earlier) in that sense, especially with games like Uncharted in existence that do this far better. It's clear some areas of the game were given less love and attention.
The game feels a little short overall, even with much to do and collect. There weren't enough set piece moments or exploration areas to give it that grand adventure feel. I do love the jungle setting though, and the game looks pretty good on the PS4 Pro. The frame rate can get a little choppy though, as these consoles start to show their age. One thing I found far worse than the previous two games is the combat. It just didn't feel as good and there was hardly enough of it. It felt like a missing/underdeveloped segment of the game when it used to be a strength of the series.
Challenge tombs return as the best part of the experience and there's some crafty puzzles to satisfy those looking to actually do some tomb raiding. That said, nine of them didn't feel like enough at launch (especially with 7 more coming in paid dlc) and I can't help but feeling like there should have been more considering they're the best part of the game. If the main game had been more fleshed out or diverse, then maybe it wouldn't have been so noticeable.
Enemy AI and player movement/animation are two areas that feel stuck in the past and hurt the gameplay experience. There were many jumps or climbs that felt glitchy/on rails instead of natural and smooth. The little combat you do engage in feels like you're fighting against clueless robot humans. Not enough attention was given to this (especially considering it's the third game now).
Overall, I enjoyed Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but not as much as the other two games before it and it feels like it's aging quickly. This was largely more of the same instead of building upon what came before and it felt rushed/on a smaller budget instead of making that leap you would expect from a sequel. It's worth your time, but make sure you know what you're getting and set reasonable expectations. It's good, but nothing more. That's okay if you enjoy these games, but I think everyone would expect a bigger leap from the next game in the franchise.