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Tomb Raider: Underworld Review

September 20, 2009

tomb-raider-underworld

Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Eidos
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (Version Played), PC (Also PS2, Wii, PSP, DS)
Genre: Action/Adventure
Players: 1
Release Date: 21st November 2008 – All platform except for PS2 (EU)

Recent Tomb Raider attempts haven’t been all that have they? Angel of Darkness is a pretty average game that I don’t think anyone liked whereas Legend was good but not the amazing game fans were hoping for. So is Underworld the game fans were after? It’s close but it isn’t quite there yet to be honest. It is still a good game though that deserves praise for being very entertaining despite a few flaws.

As with the other Tomb Raider games Lara Croft is on an adventure to find something of great value. This game focuses on Thor, his hammer and various other similar areas. I’m not going to spoil anything and though the story isn’t amazing, it never ceased to keep me entertained. I’m a big fan of mythology and find it very interesting so I found Underworlds story very enjoyable. The story sends Lara to various locations too which manages to keep the game interesting for the most part. Jungles, mountains and the sea are a few of the place you will visit.

The gameplay of Tomb Raider focuses on exploration, platforming and shooting. The exploration is great and if you are willing to put in a good few extra hours then you will find some nice secret areas and many of the collectable treasures. Whether it’s worth it depends entirely on how much you like the game. As usual the platforming is top-notch with all of Lara’s previous moves available plus more. New moves include climbing on top of poles so you can reach new places that you can’t reach by swinging. You can also climb up areas using smaller parts of the environment such as small stones in a wall or any other parts that have places to hold your feet. It all flows together for the most part but occasionally it can feel a bit sluggish. Generally it’s a joy to play though.  The combat, on the other hand, is nowhere near as refined as the platforming. It suffers from being very boring and easy because it just consists of auto aim. You can now aim at two people though which is a nice improvement but still not enough to make the combat as fun as it should be. I don’t want a combat focused Tomb Raider game though but when I am shooting I want more to it than auto-aim. There is a new adrenaline shot which lets you go into slow motion and get a headshot which is quite cool too. The weapon you get at the end is great though, even though it uses auto-aim.

tomb raider underworld

The puzzles still remain as good as ever but this time you can get help. You are able to request hints from the PDA and you may think that makes it too easy but it doesn’t. This is because the hints don’t help at all and just point out the obvious. Apart from that though the puzzles are great. There are some really good ones and more often than not you will think you are an idiot for not figuring it out sooner. Some of them last quite a while which can keep things tricky as you have lots you need to do to move on. The first part of Mexico is one big giant puzzle (Enemies are there though) and lasts about an hour because of the amount of stuff you have to do. It’s really impressive.

I need to praise the scale of Underworld. There are some huge areas you get to go to that really add a lot to the game. It makes the puzzles even bigger and more complex than before. It also makes exploring great fun. Keeps in with the great adventure feel of the game. I also want to point out that the graphics are really good. The environments and character models are fantastic and some of the places you go to look amazing.

This could be a lot better though. It does have its flaws and it does take away from the experience. The main problem is the amount of bugs in the game. If you get lucky and don’t get any then you’ll like the game more than I did but I suffered from quite a handful of annoying glitches. One of them was a switch not activating and forced me to start the level again and was very, very annoying. Another major problem is the camera. The camera works well for pretty much all of the game but whenever you get to a tight part it becomes very difficult to see anything. It always become impossible to see at corners when you need to jump back and most of the time you will choose a random direction to jump in until you finally make it across. And like I said before the combat needs a complete revamp.

These problems may not seem like much and I haven’t really commented on them much but they do bring the whole experience down. It’s still a good game though, it’s not amazing and it has its flaws but it’s still worth playing. The story is very enjoyable and the platforming and puzzles are done really well.

+ Great puzzles and platforming
+ Enjoyable story
+ Much better than recent Tomb Raider attempts

– Combat needs to be improved
– Camera can be a pain
– Quite buggy

7/10

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