Tomb Raider: Underworld Review (Xbox360)

Back for its eighth installment – third by Crystal Dynamics, the creator of the Legacy of Kain series – Tomb Raider is bound to win over fans of the series. With a major focal point at improving the puzzles and adventure aspects, Crystal Dynamics have provided a worthwhile experience full of classic moments to bask in.

Starting off in the Croft Manor, players will begin their journey through Tomb Raider Underworld as Lara in this tutorial level. Here they’ll learn how to dive, leap from ledge to ledge, use their grappling hook and much more. It is here you’ll learn that Underworld isn’t for the faint of heart due to how difficult the game proves to be. Dying at least four times throughout the tutorial level, players will encounter many situations throughout the game where you’ll often leap to your death and have to start over again. Don’t worry though, when you finally accomplish solving the puzzle, it’s tremendously rewarding.

The grappling hook is Lara’s best friend
Gunplay in Underworld isn’t exactly to a satisfactory level.

After the Croft Manor, players will begin their quest through the storyline where Lara is hunting for facts and truths about her mother and father. The plot is centralized on Norse mythology where Lara is in search for Thor’s Hammer. Not risking the possibility of ruining the storyline, players can be assured that it has the right mixture of science-fiction added into this adventure.

The first authentic level (outside of the tutorial) will throw players into the depths of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s here that you’ll first experience how gratifying Tomb Raider Underworld is – it’s beautiful and at times, breath-taking. Jumping off your ship into the water, Lara is equipped with scuba diving equipment as she battles against sharks deep beneath the sea. This is hands down the best swimming I’ve ever come across in a video game – though, this claim is one without much competition.

The controls of Underworld have significantly been improved over Tomb Raider: Legend. The grappling hook is an extraordinary gadget at Lara’s disposal. She’s able to swing across platforms, pull down doors and use it to climb up walls as if you were rock climbing. Though, the grappling hook is only usable within areas that have sections for it to latch onto. The d-pad allows access to Lara’s flashlight, weapons and health packs. If you’re a weapons fanatic, Underworld provides players with a speargun, shotgun, tranquilizer gun, assault rifle, submachine gun, and dual pistols. You’ll need to switch up your weapon selection as each of them are useful against different enemies such as the speargun with sharks, assault rifle on tigers and shotgun with the Naga.

I’d pay for a full game based on underwater combat.
Lara’s the queen of the catwalk.

Players will also have the ability to enter into slow-motion with Lara’s adrenaline meter. While fighting your enemies, players will have built up their adrenaline meter for Lara, which she can use to unleash powerful attacks and add more damage to her gunfire. The problem with the combat this time around is that it’s too simplified and, at times, unstable. Having the ability to switch between your targets is nice by tapping the right thumb stick, but fighting against your enemies isn’t the most enjoyable aspect of the game.

If you are planning on purchasing Tomb Raider Underworld it should clearly be for the platforming and puzzles. The first level of the game introduces players to at least three epic puzzles to solve, as does the second. If you’ve played the demo, you’ll be familiar with the level as it is Lara’s journey through Thailand. Having spring boarded from ledge to ledge and teeter-tottered across walkways, Tomb Raider Underworld provides an involving world to embark through.

One things for sure, she retained all her athleticism.
It must hurt to look this good.

Speaking on the worlds, Crystal Dynamics has graced games with several beautiful environments to run through. The only problem is that not all of them receive the same amount of detail, especially the sections where dozens of gunfire is permitted such as the boat at the end of the first level. Still, Underworld is a great looking adventure title that should make some gamers drool at the prospect of exploring the environments.

The last information that gamers need to know is that the Xbox 360 version is the superior one with two exclusive episodic chapters coming before the start of the spring via Xbox Live. “Beneath the Ashes” will arrive by the end of December and “Lara’s Shadow” will show up on the service by mid-January – both only accessible on the Xbox 360. So after completing Tomb Raider Underworld, players are guaranteed to have replay value added on within a few short months. Overall, Underworld is a satisfying experience that will be enjoyed for at least eight or so hours.

Top Game Moment: Other developers should take note of Crystal Dynamic’s underwater swimming as diving into Mediterranean Sea in the first level started out my infatuation with Underworld.

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By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Nov 20, 2008
This is something I've been waiting for. :D
By Lonewulf (I just got here) on Nov 25, 2008
I expected more from this title... sigh.
By AceofSpades (SI Member) on Nov 26, 2008
Its good but I did expect a bit more
By Revan (SI Elite) on Nov 29, 2008
I had to freaking order this game from Hong Kong just to get a copy! Because some stupid freaking morons decided that if they bought it first, they would be able to sell on eBay for $100!!! Ahhhh!!!