catalystx's Tomb Raider: Underworld (Xbox 360) review

Tomb Raider getting old?

Lara Croft returns in the sequel to Tomb Raider: Legend. While she has some new moves and improved visuals, you’ll find yourself frustrated after Lara falls to her death again trying the simplest of actions.

The story picks up where Legend left off. Lara is still on her quest to determine what happened to her mother following the clues she finds in her travels to various locales ranging from underwater temples to massive jungle environments. Though the story is standard fare, it is told in a relatively compelling manner, making each cut scene worth watching.

Graphics are easily the best improvement offered by Underworld to this series. Lara Croft looks better than ever, with gorgeous surroundings that have been given much more detail. I thought the water looked particularly beautiful. Also some stages are very open allowing you to actually explore as opposed to the more linear Tomb Raider games in the past. However, most stages still have only one correct path you can take to proceed.

Combat is an absolute bore. The same lock on combat system returns, taking any challenge out of gunplay. There is the addition of an adrenaline attack, which allows you to perform a one shot kill. You charge the adrenaline attack simply by shooting and hitting your target. Get close enough and you can execute the adrenaline attack. Using this attack makes the game ridiculously easy since you can use it quite frequently, and they never throw an overwhelming amount of enemies at you. I had no problem finishing this game on the hardest possible difficulty. There is also a melee attack added, which is required to finish off certain enemies, but for everything else it’s completely unnecessary and extremely difficult to use effectively.

Platforming is the main focus of Underworld, instead of the combat focused Legend. You will spend the majority of your time running, jumping, diving, rolling, and climbing your way through the majority of the stages. The motorcycle returns as a key component in Underworld as a means to travel around the level. There is no longer annoying drawn out sequences of motorcycle gunfights that were found in Legend. With platforming being such a major component, it is somewhat unpolished. Jumps Lara would often find no problem will send her plummeting to her death as she bumps into the wall. Also clipping is a serious issue. I got stuck many times between some small rocks in a corner which would force me to load a previous save to continue. The biggest issue I had was trying to get Lara to jump to a moving object. If Lara grabbed on, but the object moved away from her, she fell. Some of the puzzles are also too easy and uninspired. Sometimes you didn’t need to do any thinking, just flip the switch till you hear the click. Boss fights like they were in Legend no longer exist. If you do encounter a “boss”, it was really just a puzzle. There were no exciting boss battles at all, and the climactic “battle” was extremely disappointing.

You can expect this adventure to last around 8-10 hours, more if you wish to find all the collectibles. It’s a pretty solid rental with its average length, and though there are many bugs it can be somewhat enjoyable.

Other reviews for Tomb Raider: Underworld (Xbox 360)

    Graphically competent but boring 0

    First of all, let me get the positives out of the way: this game looks very good. A lot of the environments are lush and give a nice sense of scale. Unfortunately, this is let down by the abysmal camera work. This development team have done some wonderful things with camera work in the past (Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 comes to mind) but here I found myself constantly in opposition with the camera, almost as if it were fighting against me at times. This in turn made the gameplay even more frus...

    3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

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