Tomb Raider: Underworld Review
- Posted November 19th, 2008 at 12:05 EDT by Steven Williamson
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Tomb Raider: Underworld is a lackluster adventure. Lara looks great, but gameplay is predictable and thwarted by camera issues.
- Lara's character model and animations are spot on
- Some beautifully rendered locations
- Predictable, bland puzzles
- Poor camera angles makes exploration frustrating
- Combat is lackluster and overly simple
Can you believe that it’s been over 10 years since the voluptuous Lara Croft began seducing us with her enticing blend of action-packed exploration, treasure hunting, acrobatics and perceptive puzzle-solving?
The success of the series has meant that the foundations laid down by the original title still haven’t changed one bit, with Tomb Raider Underworld following a familiar and predictable blueprint. If you’re a fan of the series then you’ll no doubt take some delight in exploring ancient ruins, underwater chambers, dimly-lit caverns and lush jungle settings all over again. You’ll probably also feel quite at home climbing mountain faces, ledge-hopping, swinging over ravines, pulling levers, pillar jumping, shifting blocks to activate weight mechanisms and solving cog-based puzzles. We, on the other hand, were bored out of our minds. Ever heard of the saying “familiarity breeds contempt?” Well, never has a phrase been more apt than in the case of Underworld.
Furthermore, whilst Miss Croft’s latest outing, which carries on from where it left off in Tomb Raider Legend, looks suitably next-gen, with Lara moving around with admirable poise and grace, ass cheeks wobbling with every step, we spent most of the adventure swearing at the T.V. with sheer frustration. Like spoilt brats - and we feel quite ashamed to admit it - we almost lost the plot at one point, banging our fists with anger onto the table after we fell to our death and then had to scale a cliff face for the tenth time. A videogame hasn’t made us this angry since we hopped on the back of a dragon, took to the skies and wrestled with the motion-sensing functionality of the Sixaxis controller in the disappointingly poor, Lair.
There is some good news though. As far as pixelated videogame heroine's go, Lara does look very sexy. With all the bumps and curves in the right places, her finely chiseled body should certainly appeal to the testosterone-fueled teen brigade and undoubtedly old perverts as well. Crystal Dynamics has cleverly played on her sexuality throughout the game and from the outset, where they place her snugly into a figure-hugging swimming costume for the first ocean-diving level, to the coast of Thailand where you have the opportunity of dressing her up in either jungle pants or jungle shorts, there’s never an opportunity missed to take advantage of her obvious womanly charms.
Wisely, every opportunity has been grabbed by the developer's manly fist in order to show off Lara’s mighty fine cheek-wobbling buttocks up close and personal. Thanks to camera angles that pan in when you’re scaling a mountain face or during cut-scenes you'll get plenty of time to ogle those buns. We’d hazard a guess that this will also be the gameplay footage that is most likely to be sent out to the press or put onto You Tube in a bid to tempt you into the alluring world of Lara and her creamy thighs. Unfortunately, watching Lara parade around in this flirtatious manner is one of the few highlights of an otherwise boring, predictable and irritating jaunt across some familiar locations.
Lara does animate extremely well. It’s clear that the motion-capture technology, which has been used for the first time in the Tomb Raider series, has really paid off. She looks fantastic shimmying down poles, somersaulting through the air, traversing cliff faces, scaling walls with her grappling hook and swimming through the clear blue ocean. Lara has never looked and moved so well as she interacts with the environment, using her arms to push through the overgrown jungle foliage or putting her hands to her face to shield herself from fire. It’s commendable that his level of attention has been paid to the story’s heroine and her impressive range of acrobatic tricks, but the focus on making her look great and move like a medal-winning gymnast feels like it’s been to the detriment of much of the rest of the game, which consistently fails to live up to her eye-catching physique.
Underworld suffers from some frustrating level design, annoying camera angles and tedious puzzles, the likes of which have been regurgitated from the bowels of previous Tomb Raider games and mixed around ever so slightly to try and give you the impression that they’re ... (continued on next page) ----