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Wonderfalls - Jaye Tyler

Tomb Raider: Underworld - Review

Posted on 2009.01.05 at 11:23
Current Mood:: chipperchipper
Tags: , ,
So when I first started Tomb Raider: Underworld, on the same day that I finished Mirror's Edge, I was all like "what?! I thought Lara was supposed to be acrobatic." I had gotten so used to Faith's speed and athletical prowess I found myself expecting Lara to be able to do the same. However once I'd had a sleep and put Mirror's Edge behind me I found myself getting back into the flow of the gameplay. Which is really good. In terms of puzzley tomb exploration games you don't get better than Tomb Raider and this doesn't disappoint. The puzzles are good and fairly intuitive with an option to recieve in game hints if there's that one puzzle the solution of which is eluding you. There were a couple of puzzles like that for me but only one where I wasn't doing the right thing. The others involved me looking in the wrong places.

In terms of gameplay I was incredibly surprised to see Jacqueline Natla making an appearance. I had previously written off Tomb Raider: Anniversary as a standalone remake of the first game and wasn't expecting any of it's plot to come scampering into Underworld. I really enjoyed the story in this with the whole Natla and Angela and Lara looking for her mother and everything. I liked how Angela eventually aligned herself with Lara and even helped Lara escape when Jormungandr, the world serpent, was slain. I'm kind of hoping we might get to see her in a more helpful context in later games. Actually since I'm me I'm kind of hoping we might get to see her in a more lesbian context in later games. That's probably just me though.

I loved the finale of this game. There's always something at the end of a game because that's how games work and I sound like a total idiot, but my point is there's usually like a big final boss or something and that's not my favourite part of the game because Tomb Raider is more about platforming and puzzling and everything. In this game the final boss was a big massive contraption that you had to platform and puzzle your way around to destroy. In short it was the perfect final boss for this type of game. Before actually getting a look at Jormungandr I'd been expecting to have to have a big fight with a big snake and I hadn't been looking forward to it. So a definate thumbs up to how it was pulled off. Oh and I love the games interpretation of Jormungandr, not as a massive snake lying below the ocean but as the cracks in the Earth's crust, waiting to be broken apart and destroy the world. Brilliant!

The one thing that lets Tomb Raider: Underworld down is the camera. Awkward and unwilling to shift away from Lara for even just a minute it had me longing for Mirror's Edge's brilliant first person camera. How I wished that I could just turn and look to see what was behind me. Instead I had to guess whether there was a ledge, pillar, platform, pole or whatever there to land safely on. Well actually there's two things that Tomb Raider: Underworld down. First is as already mentioned the rubbish unresponsive camera. Second is the bugginess of the game. Normally I don't really think about bugginess or whatever, but when it starts sending me plummeting to my untimely death because Lara can't jump in the direction I'm telling her to it becomes a factor.

So all in all I think Tomb Raider: Underworld gets an eight out of ten. A good game, slightly let down by bugginess and a dreadful camera. Tip for the camera next time: let the camera move off Lara so people can see what is going on with the rest of the world from time to time. Oh actually wait, I really want to say something about the motorbike. In Legend the motorbike bits were clearly defined. Here you are doing a puzzle or something. Now here you are on a motorbike. Reasonable but I didn't buy Tomb Raider to ride a motorbike so not really the best use of my time. In Underworld it's built into the game. Here's your motorbike. Use it to drive around, or possibly help with puzzles or simply get off and walk or whatever. Do what you like. It's great. Oh and the Valgrind. I love the Valgrind. The Valgrind is like sheer vertigo terror, but in a fun way. As set peices go you'd be hard pressed to find one as visually stunning or as cold-sweat inducing as the Valgrind. Anyway that's definately it now. Review over. Go out and get on with your lives.

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