Customer Review

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poised for greatness, but slips off a wet ledge, 21 Jan 2009
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Tomb Raider Underworld (PS3) (Video Game)
Another exciting adventure for Miss Croft in her new designer outfits, boasting motion-captured movements modelled from gymnast Heidi Moneymaker (no pun, real name), she runs, climbs, swings, swims, swishes at undergrowth, chimney vaults and fights her way dirty kneed through a maze of jungles, caves, glaciers, ships and strange ancient machinery ... but Lara need never feel alone out there in the middle of the Mediterranean, or in Thailand, Southern Mexico or Jan Mayen island in the Arctic ocean; for around any corner there is bound to be another adversary, mercenary or Colin O'Malley orchestra.

Underworld is poised for greatness, but with yet another new graphics engine developed especially for the game, fresh with the latest bugs, it presents the gamer with yet another bag of niggles. The character animation is better than before, indeed it is excellent and you have to see it to believe it, but Lara has forgotten how to walk or creep. The best she can do is run in slow motion, or at least that's what it looks like to me. Perhaps walking was not in Heidi's contract ... this practically forces me to run around everywhere, giving me no time to really absorb the fantastic artwork and impressive scenery, and possibly as a result I discover that the puzzles require no thought whatsoever. If you can press it, push it, switch it, rotate it or climb it - do it. You don't need to know why, you don't need to examine the mechanism.

Long gone are the days where you need a piece of paper to write down clues or figure out how to solve puzzles. I didn't get stuck once playing this game. This was the most disappointing aspect of the release. Despite promises of non-linear gameplay and while the graphics are generally superb (with the few usual bugs such as Lara floating in mid-air in some camera angles), the sound effects and music heart-pounding, and while the story sets up the adventure excellently - the main reason we keep coming back to Tomb Raider is for the puzzles. In Underworld, they are simply far too easy to solve by anyone's measure.

The only real genuine puzzle in the game is why, if Crystal Dynamics focused so much on the WCLD (What Could Lara Do?) philosophy, why did they fail on that point so catastrophically - to the point where Lara still can't jump onto ledges that are only a foot above her head if the game developer hasn't thought about making the ledge "grabbable", and she still jumps off to her death in stupid directions when that's clearly not the direction in which you intended for her to die! The controls continue to be the most troublesome aspect of the most recent Lara adventures, when the puzzles themselves ought to pose the greatest challenges.

Another major disappointment for me is that exploration is not encouraged. Except to find a limited variation of pick-ups and a few bonuses which unlock some rather uninspiring extras, the game is in fact as linear as they come. And with the demise of Croft Manor, there is no escape to Lara's house to take a break from the bats of Bhogavati to practise your pole-dancing skills.

However, that should not put you off buying this game. I've said it before I'll say it again, there is no other game like it on the market. No self-respecting gamer would miss buying Tomb Raider Underworld. It is a marvel to behold, we only wish the developers would go back to basics and create a game that is primarily designed to exercise the grey matter and less of the adrenaline ...
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Feb 2009 18:28:41 GMT
Marty Depolo says:
1 of the most informative & amusing review I've read. Brilliant!

Posted on 16 Feb 2009 09:48:03 GMT
I do entirely agree with you on all of these aspects. I have not played underworld all the way through yet and I AM enjoying it because it's tomb raider! But since the advent of the PS2 I have noticed that the games have got less and less challenging. Everyone hyped up anniversary as a remake and it wasn't, anyone who had played the PS1 version would know that it was FAR more challenging and exciting. If I could forget the wonderful graphics on the new consoles i'd happily go back to the PS1 because those games were AMAZING.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Feb 2009 12:36:48 GMT
Mr. M. Wray says:
Yeah But Helen, My Brother Lent My copy of Anniversary and said it was very alike to the original, Now, I dont even remember The first Tomb Raider, although I did play it.. But My point is, that validates it was atleast very alike... so sorry Helen, but you're wrong, and actually Anniversary was a fairly good game, and I found it challenging. Legend Was Another good One, But the first one for the PS2 was pretty Poor, Now, Tomb Raider 1 & 2 are the best, because they are the classics... Underworld is Another Brilliant..|Tomb Raider III was ok, I liked the London Underground Level the best on there to be honest...

All have had flaws, and stuff, But, Tomb Raider 1 is the original and the best, leading the chain.. :)

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2009 06:47:03 BDT
tallpete33 says:
I agree with Mr Wray. Anniversary was challenging tho more for the timed jumps, boss battles and wall running than the puzzles tho I did have the opccassional look at YouTube for help ! It was a good tribute to TR1 and definitely added to it IMO. The puzzles in TR1 were massively hard and I had to refer to walkthroughs quite a lot. Legend was pretty easy unless you wanted to complete 100%.
I wouldn't like to go back to TR1 with the d-pad, blue diamond saves and easy walk-off ledges !
Looking forward to TRU :o)
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