Tomb Raider Underworld (Xbox 360)
This is how exploration should feel. Not once on my 360 have I come across a game that delivers the true feeling of exploration. Tomb Raider Anniversary came close and it was a fine game, but nothing compared to Underworld. When I started playing I was hooked onto the game like never before. I could not put my control down until the game was finished. Not only was the story intriguing but just moving around in these huge, atmospheric environments made me grin like a big idiot.
As you move further and further into the tombs, jungles and underworlds you really grasp what shines in Tomb Raider, what we haven't seen since perhaps the original. Lara Croft has had her ups and downs in the past few games but all is forgiven now. Not only does she look better than ever she also moves more gracefully and easily. Finally a perfect control scheme for our Lady!
Lara isn't the only thing that looks great though, the entire game looks almost photo-realistic. Here is some of the best graphics on the platform, especially the Thailand level as you progress further into the jungle. Even the soundtrack is unbeatable this time round. Frequently whilst playing you really feel uplifted by the dramatic score featured in Underworld. What's better is that the music isn't constantly playing, when it shouldn't be, it isn't, leaving the game seem even more atmospheric and bringing back that sense of isolation.
Granted, the combat isn't perfect, but considering the exploration is the main focus, this definitely does not bother me. It's not like the combat is painful, it just isn't as inspired as the exploration. Towards the end of the game we weild a very powerful weapon and the combat suddenly feels much more exhillerating so don't let this turn you away.
I blatantly disagree completely with the negative review on here. For one thing, the game took me longer than 10 hours to complete and I am still playing back through the levels. Underworld is a must buy for anyone remotely interested. If you've given Tomb Raider a chance in the past and have been let down then give the franchise another go. I promise you won't be disappointed this time. Welcome back Lara Croft.