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

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Dig a tomb for this franchise

 I don't think the Tomb Raider games have ever been good. Like, ever. They've never looked like the sort of quality game that I could embrace and point to as something appealing. Which is funny, because Naughty Dog basically took the Tomb Raider theme, made a gender change, and put out 2 really great games. That's kinda sad when you think about, that it had to take some pretenders to the throne to actually make good games.

Lara's a sex symbol in gaming, that's quite obvious. But that fact alone has never ever been able to get me to care about the games. Like, I'm as much of a red-blooded heterosexual male as the next gamer, but uh... if I want porn, I can find porn. It's all over the internet. Very easy to find. Even some super kinky stuff. I don't need it in my video games. And that whole idea of trying to sell the games based on Lara's massive boobs, that always turned me off, ironically. It just seemed very shallow and insulting and kinda desperate.

Now, I've actually only played one Tomb Raider game, and it was the last one, Underworld. Is it fair to judge an entire franchise on one game? If you think about it, the latest game in a series is supposed to have all the improvements and refinements and perfected elements of each previous game, right? So if Underworld wasn't gonna do it, I doubt my opinion would have improved by playing the older ones.

And uh, I hated Underworld. It really stunk to high heaven. I am really really glad I didn't play any TR games in the days of yore, judging by what I got in Underworld. First of all, the platforming is not that great. It felt pretty damn stiff and clunky. On its face, it's probably the strongest element of Underworld, but compared to contemporaries like Prince of Persia or Assassin's Creed, and it really fails. It's just not good enough anymore. Of course, there are people out there who actually dislike the sort of platforming in PoP/AC, so it's all personal preference. But I myself couldn't get onboard with it.

Now, the combat. That's a really strong factor for me in games. The combat in Underworld is complete shit, and far far worse qualitatively then the platforming. First off, manual aim seems almost nonexistent. The level of fidelity isn't there, you absolutely aren't capable of aiming at longer distances at anyone. Either it's too inaccurate or your bullets just seem to phase out of existence past 15 feet. 15 feet! How the hell can a developer only provide gunplay within 15 feet?

So manual aiming is terrible. I guess they want you to use their lock-on aiming. But again, this only seems to lock-on within 15 feet. You can't fire at enemies at medium ranges. I have no idea why. And the whole idea of lock-on aiming is repugnant to me. I don't need to have the game aim for me. I didn't need it in Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, Unreal, Rainbow Six, Battlefield, Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, Crysis, Gears of War, Mass Effect, Uncharted, etc... I basically haven't needed or wanted it in about 17 years. Yet that seems to be how they want you to aim in Underworld. I hated that, it felt lazy and out of touch with reality.

And the dual pistols contain infinite ammo. Why would pistols have infinite ammo? How does that make any sense? Where would Lara fit infinite ammo into her clothes? I hated it when Ubisoft gave infinite pistol ammo in Rainbow Six Vegas and SC Conviction and apparently they learned it from the Tomb Raider games. Also, the levels had a lot of peculiarities that really felt unpolished. Near the beginning of the game, Lara is onboard her fancy expensive yacht and is about to go diving for some treasure. Well, you can't actually explore this yacht, because there are invisible walls everywhere. There's some stairs leading up to the controls of the yacht, but you run into an invisible wall right at the stairs. Why would you do that? What the hell is the point of having all these boundaries on this boat? I dunno, but it was lame.

So yea, all in all, Underworld seemed like a terrible game. I did not finish it. The combat felt awful and the platforming was merely clumsy. Not a good experience, or even a mediocre experience.

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