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Crystal Dynamics / Buzz Monkey Software


T (Teen)


November 18, 2008



- Adventuring though Mexico , Thailand and Croft Mansion among other places, there is a good variety in the locals.

- Finally getting a chance to kill all the endangered species I want. Stupid tigers, think theyíre so great.



- The graphics, camera and controls all have big issues

- The gameplay is incredibly linear and the puzzles are simple

- Combat is terrible and incredibly sparse for a game that has two drawn weapons on its cover



Review: Tomb Raider Anniversary (PS2)

Review: Crackdown (360)

Review: Portal (PC)


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Tomb Raider: Underworld

Score: 5.5 / 10


My first clue about Tomb Raider: Underworld, should have been the cover art. Itís a shot of Lara Croft posing dramatically while holding her guns except for one thing, her head is completely covered by a logo. This sums my opinion of the game pretty quickly, a good foundation to build from, but no real brain power behind the game itself.


tomb-raider-underworld-1.jpg (34434 bytes)          tomb-raider-underworld-2.jpg (48565 bytes)

With the story starting off right where the last game ended, Croft Mansion is being burned to the ground by a mysterious enemy. From there, ancient temples everywhere from Mexico to Thailand are your playgrounds to explore as you try to solve the mystery of your motherís disappearance and how it relates to the mysterious location of Avalon.  To help her with her quest, Lara relies on nothing but her athletic skills (skills which can be seen in greater detail on the PS3 and 360) and a grappling hook to make difficult jumps and solve puzzles.


The core gameplay of TR is jumping and climbing. Then more jumping and climbing with a little swinging thrown in. Swinging from a pole to a narrow ledge can be a lot of fun, but sometimes a prospective jump makes you squint at the screen and ask yourself ďReally? I have to do that?Ē The problem is compounded a few minutes later, when youíre in a similar situation and miss that same jump a few times before discovering a hidden ledge off to the right.





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Finding the right path to take requires a good deal of searching on some levels and depending on your attitude it can be rewarding or annoying.  Based on my experience having an online guide handy will help prevent noise complaints. Make sure you have the right system guide however, as there are subtle differences in the layouts of each consoleís version


of the game. A fact I did not know when I first tried to defeat the giant squid. Sorry about the yelling Mrs. Gonzales.  Once, while trying to descend to the base of temple, I found a series of ledges and worked my way down. After running around for an hour and eventually killing myself in frustration, I discovered that since I went down an unconventional way, the game refused to recognize my progress and stopped the next series of puzzles from opening. If you want to advance through the game, you need to find the specific ledges and grappling spots the game provides. As a result there is no real replay value to the game, unless you want to recreate your last adventure step for step.


While there is some combat, itís mostly nonexistent. The twenty or so battles are short and the optimum strategy is to stand and shoot because itís almost impossible to die by getting attacked. Even though every mission is started with ten grenades and unlimited ammo, the only time I used grenades was to commit suicide when I realized that I made an unforgivable error when choosing what platform to leap from and needed to start back at a loading point.


What separates the Wii version from the 360 and PS3 versions are puzzles that make use of the wiimote. Every so often there will be a small puzzle on the wall that requires you to solve it before moving on. Unfortunately the puzzles are ridiculously simple. One puzzle requires you to put two gears into a clock to make it work, and are given two to choose from. Hmm. Another requires you to solve a moving tile portrait, except the answers are painted behind the tiles and four of eight spaces are open. And thatís one of the trickier ones.


In addition to some faults with the creative aspects of the game (the storyís a real bore), there are massive clipping problems. Many objects that seem cylindrical are in reality cubes, so Lara ends up standing on thin air while walking across a platform. On top of this Iíve seen Lara sink into a statue way too many times. Also the camera often has no idea what to do. At times when Lara is hanging off a ledge itís uncontrollable, leading to many mistimed jumping deaths. So many, many jumping deaths.


A next gen adventure title that relies solely on platforming should emphasize creativity. Getting from A to B should be an adventure in finding interesting jumping angles and ledges, making you want to replay a level countless times to find new and more inventive ways to advance. And with no real enemies or other obstacles throughout the entire game, that importance is doubled. Here, however, unless you follow the specific path, the game simply wonít let you advance. Jumping from cliff to cliff overtop of a deep ravine in South America can be a lot of fun, but it gets lost in all the times you died retrying a leap not knowing that there was a hidden ledge far off to your right.


- Karol Kudyba

January 15, 2009

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