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whatshot Tomb Raider: Underworld PS3 Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Gameplay 8.5
Graphics 8.8
Sound 8.7
Value 8.6
Distributor: Atari
Classification:
M15+
Review Date:
December 2008
Reviewer:
Tyrone Williams

8.5


Tomb Raider: Underworld

Adventurer Lara Croft returns on the PlayStation 3, XBox 360, PS2, Wii and PC in another exciting story that takes gamers across different exotic locations around the world such as the jungles of Mexico or the Arctic Sea. The series has always been strong on action and adventure with this current incarnation no different from the rest, however the graphics now support high definition and Lara has never looked better.

Although Lara Croft is the first female gaming hero, the quality of Tomb Raider games has become a hit and miss affair, fortunately for fans of the series or this genre, the latest game has in its essence gone back to basics and features a sturdy 21st century gaming engine.

Features:

  • Master your surroundings: Reach new heights with the broadest range of acrobatic abilities and utilize objects within the environment to uncover new paths to explore.

  • Explore epic and unknown worlds: Discover ancient mysteries of the underworld hidden within the coast of Thailand, frozen islands of the Arctic Sea, the jungles of Mexico, and more.

  • Treacherous and unpredictable challenges: Each level is an elaborate multi-stage puzzle masked within an interactive environmental playground offering more flexibility over how the area is solved.

  • New range of combat options: Choose to pacify or kill, target multiple enemies at once with the new dual-target system, and shoot with one hand while suspended with the other.

  • New state-of-the-art gear: Utilize the latest technology in Lara’s upgraded inventory to navigate the world including:

    o Active Sonar map: A revolutionary new tool that emits an active sonar ping to create a 3D image of Lara’s surroundings, perfect for uncovering hidden items and locations.
    o Multi-purpose grapple: A claw-like device with a high-tension cable designed for climbing, rappelling, performing wall runs and manipulating objects within the environment.
    o All-terrain motorbike: A unique vehicle design built to drive on everything from mud to snow and ice.

You immediately know that you are in for a treat from the spectacular opening sequence that sets the pace of the story and of course the myriad of questions for the player. The game itself begins in the Mediterranean Sea for the player where our attractive and lithe-like adventurer is searching for the mystical hammer of Thor, a weapon so dangerous that it can smash mountains into valleys and even destroy the gods themselves... or so fable has it.

Of course if this weapon gets into the wrong hands, mankind will be in danger and as fate would dictate, this is the very thing that happens and once again Lara must save the world after her tampering with fate again. Needless to say, it's a classic Lara Croft tale and is probably one of the more enjoyable tales due to the constant pace of the story.

In its essence, Tomb Raider Underworld is your classic third person action adventure game that has the player using a variety of skills and equipment in order to traverse the gaming environment. This can be achieved by climbing walls, using grappling hooks and of course using Lara's innate acrobatic skills. Each of the gaming environments that you visit has a set number of tasks or clues that must be solved and needless to say, all the clues are generally right in front of you.

It does however become tricky at times when you are balancing on a ledge and attempting to jump onto another ledge so be warned, you will be playing many of the trickier areas again and again. Thankfully the game contains a great in-game save system which will assist in these tricky aspects of the game. The puzzles in the game are much more understandable then previous titles, still offering you a challenge, without it being overtly difficult.

The combat of the game has received a much needed facelift that gives the player a variety of combat maneuvers as they battle a plethora of enemies from gun totting villains, animals and giant sea creatures. Although Lara has access to her hand-to-hand combat, the weapons in the game is what makes the Tomb Raider series so entertaining and thankfully you still have access to the trade mark two-guns of Lara Croft.

Of course, weapons are only good for their intended environment, so Lara does have access to other weaponry such as spear guns for underwater battle. The new dual-target system is a little tricky to master but does offer the genre a unique experience as does the suspended ledge attack which allows you to hold onto a ledge while shooting a gun.

There is even an all-terrain vehicle at Lara's disposal that allows her to traverse a variety of different terrains from snow to rocks which also breaks up the traditional monotony of the series of just being able to walk or run around only. The developers keep the story fresh by the various supporting cast who are in the game and some stunning CGI cutscenes that look extremely impressive, especially on high definition.

When it comes to graphics, Tomb Raider Underworld is pure eye candy that contains some wonderful background environments, each with their own unique looks. The star of the game is of course the sexy Lara Croft as she nimbly runs through the gaming environment and Underworld contains quite a few obligatory butt shots of Lara as she climbs and swims.

It's good to see that the character has not lost that "cartoon" look, however the change almost borders on realism. The special effects in the game are first class from the water effects to the lighting, it flawlessly interacts with the game. The characters in Underworld also move with a human or animal like grace, whether it's a shark or a villain attacking Lara, it's flawless incorporated. Match that with a perfect musical score and great professional voice acting and this game is quite an achievement.

In conclusion, Tomb Raider Underworld is what the series has been missing and although it may not the standout game of the year, it's definitely one of the better ones and it's good to see. Check it out!





 

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