Tomb Raider: Underworld review (Xbox 360)

Tomb Raider: Underworld is the eight installments of the Tomb Raider series, and also the conclusion of the trilogy that Tomb Raider: Legend, Tomb Raider: Anniversary and Tomb Raider: Underworld formed. There’s going to be a reboot of the series later this year, showing Lara getting into her first adventure at the age of 21.

The game was designed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos Interactive, it was released in November 2008 for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Mobile phone, N-Gage 2.0.

The Story

The story picks up where TRL left off, Lara is still searching for Avalon but she soon finds out that there might be a deeper thread of mono-myth theory running through the proto-Norse ruins underneath the Mediterranean Sea.

After this she meets Natla, the Atlantean god-queen who is a prisoner of Amanda Evert. Natla tells Lara that Avalon is actually the Norse underworld Hellheim and that this is where her mother went after the events in Nepal when Lara was a young girl. She then leads her to a temple in Thailand to continue her search. The game will not only take you to Thailand, but you will play a level in Croft Manor, Southern Mexico, Jay Mayen Island, Andaman Sea, and the Artic Sea.

Norse Mythology

This game focusses mainly on the Norse Mythology seeing as you have to gather the gauntlets, belt buckle and the hammer of Thor, also called Mjöllnir. Thor’s hammer is considered the most fearsome weapon in Norse Mythology, it could level mountains and killing gods, but it isn’t always depicted as a hammer, it’s also depicted as a club or an axe. Thor is the son of Odin and Jord, the earth Goddess, he was considered to be the strongest of the Aesir, the collective name for the principal race of Norse Gods. Thor’s greatest enemy is Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent. At the day of Ragnarok, which basically is the Norse Apocalypse, Thor will fight Jormungand but he will die from its poison after killing the serpent. A pretty grim future to look forward to if you ask me.

Gameplay

The gameplay has changed for this game. Lara looks more realistic now. Lara’s movements have been reordered with Motion Capture technology, meaning that real people provided the movements for Lara. This shows as it now feels that Lara is a real person that you’re controlling. If Lara is moving down a path that is a bit overgrown with plants, she’ll actually bat the plants that are about to hit her face out of the way. But this is also a hindrance sometimes seeing as sometimes movements look weird.

The gameplay hasn’t changed when it comes to puzzles it’s still a key aspect of the game, you need to complete puzzles if you want to continue in a level. There’s also a few new features added to the game, like now you can climb and shoot as well as aiming at two enemies at the same time. You can also use elements of puzzles to beat up enemies. For instance, if you pick up a pole that you need to stick into a wall to be able to climb up, but if there’s an enemy near, you can actually whack him around the head with the pole you’re holding. There’s also been a bit of an upgrade in Lara’s technology, she now has a sonar map that you can use to be able to uncover secret locations and items inside the map that you’re playing.

One of the best features is player tailoring, this means that you can control how difficult the game will be or what aspect the game will focus on. For instance you can tell the game to make the enemies easier to beat if you’re not that much into the action bits of the game or you can tell the game to have Lara auto solve some of the puzzles if you want to focus on the action.

The enemies move more realistically as well, for instance the tigers that you will encounter at some point move like a real tiger would, plus the spiders move like real life spiders and seeing as I am an arachna-phobe, this scared the hell out of me each and every time that I encountered one.

At the start of each level, you’re able to choose what outfit you want Lara to be in for the duration of the level as well as choose what secondary weapon you start with, but this doesn’t really matter in the end as you can always change the secondary weapon whenever you want.

The Conclusion

Overall, the game is pretty good. The game creators removed the Quick Time Events during cut scenes and replaced them with adrenaline moments during the gameplay, which for me is a big plus. Despite the fact that Lara now moves more realistically, it means that some of the movements look a bit awkward. Lara’s look has been updated again to look like a mix of the original outfit from the classic TR games and TRL.

Still overall, if you’re a fan of the Tomb Raider series, this game will not disappoint, but fair warning, for anyone out there who fears spiders, you might want to move through the Mexico level as fast as you can.

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