Tomb Raider Underworld
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this adventure sticks to the traditional Tomb Raider formula of platforming, puzzle solving, and straightforward shootouts. Heroine Lara Croft uses weapons like assault rifles, handguns, and grenades, as well as her fists. Sometimes, you'll see blood when Lara kills humans or wild animals. As always, Lara dresses rather provocatively, often wearing outfits that show a lot of skin. There is mild cussing.
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What's it about?
Gaming's most recognizable heroine makes her big return in TOMB RAIDER: UNDERWORLD. And while Lara Croft and the environments she explores look exquisite, the action is less impressive. Lara's latest quest takes her on a search for the hammer of Norse god Thor, once considered a myth. She eventually finds proof of its existence in the Mediterrean Sea, and sets off on her journey to discover the item.
Tomb Raider Underworld sticks to the concepts that made the franchise so popular: platforming, puzzle solving, and acrobatic gunplay. For this adventure, Lara boasts a bevy of new moves and tools. A sonar map creates a 3-D image of the environment to better spot hidden areas. Instead of just killing enemies, Lara can opt to use tranquilizer guns to knock foes out. Lara travels all over the world in search of the Hammer, from the jungles of Thailand to the frozen landscapes of the Arctic Sea.
Is it any good?
Underworld is definitely one of the most attractive Tomb Raider titles in the series. The environments are gorgeous. Ancient ruins sport fine details etched in stone, while jungles look lush and vibrant. You'll even see Lara get dirty as she climbs walls and darts through ruins. Unfortunately, the action doesn't match up. For a game with these epic locales, the actual adventure feels boring. Underworld emphasizes exploration, yet the game feels pretty linear. For newbies, the game provides a field guide that offers tips in case you're stuck on a level. However, the platforming and puzzles are pretty basic, so most players won't need this option.
The platforming suffers because of an erractic camera. If you're moving too quickly, the camera struggles to follow, leaving you viewing the action from a bad angle. This makes executing big leaps all the more difficult. The combat is solid, but not very explosive. While Lara looks quite agile leaping away from gunfire as she shoots enemies, most opponents put forth little effort. Some even stood still while Lara picked them off with ease. Tomb Raider fans will enjoy Lara's latest quest even though it's lackluster. But if you are looking for a great platformer, you're better off exploring different options.
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