The first Xbox 360 game with gold is here and it isn’t a great start to the year. Tomb Raider Underworld is a third person game that has a focus on climbing, puzzles and some combat. The game is also a sequel to Tomb Raider Legend which I haven’t played so I have had trouble understanding the plot or at least the bits of the plot that aren’t saying Lara Croft (the main character) has to go somewhere to get some treasure. I also feel the need to mention that I haven’t completed this game as I didn’t enjoy it and if you don’t like something why should you put yourself through doing it?
To start out positively, I liked the controls and how simple they were. I was able to guess how to do most things before the game told me how to do them even though I can’t remember the last time I played a tomb raider game so had no prior knowledge. The game also doesn’t give you waypoints or tell you what you’re supposed to do which I liked because it allowed me to explore and see the game environments. The climbing was a puzzle in itself which made me think and I like it when a game makes my brain active. The last thing I liked was how before I started the Thailand level it let me choose Lara’s weapon and outfit giving some very basic customisation options.
Now for the bad things about the game. The lack of waypoints and instructions was good as an exploration encourager but it often left me wondering what was expected of me to progress, I may have done something but not everything so I’d spend an hour walking in what felt like circles achieving nothing in the process. To help with this there were hint buttons but all these did was told me what I already knew so they didn’t help at all. As I was exploring everything started to look the same as everything else which made me more confused and angry at the game. The climbing may have been good if the camera was willing to co-operate but it often set itself at an angle which made the game harder than it needed to be and Lara would often get stuck on a piece of wall or floor or throw herself to her death for no reason. There were also some sections of the game that lokoed like cutscenes but were instead slow motion sequences which made the player have to act fast leading to pointless deaths. The combat wasn’t thought out much, just lock on to an enemy with the left trigger and pull the right one to shoot, the thought that was put into the puzzles wasn’t put into creating a decent aiming or cover system; kicking enemies in a melee attack often did more damage than shooting them and some enemies seemed to be designed to be annoying. The worst thing of all was the fact that I needed to turn to the internet for direction where I found out other people had similar issues to myself.
I’m willing to accept that my bad experience may have just been a result of me being bad at the game. I can also see what was the intention with a lot of the ideas in the game and think it has the potential to be good with a more helpful camera and a better sense of direction for the player but potential isn’t reality. Not enjoying the game at all and being in a bad mood on the early sections has led me to believe that the game is bad. I’ve seen average games and have played them to the end because they were at least a little bit fun and this would be average if it was fun but it isn’t so sadly I think it is a bad game.
The art that I’m using as the featured image was found on the achievements section of the Xbox website. This has a focus on Lara Croft’s old image where her reputation as well as this picture is all about her body, it relies too much on the established reputation and does nothing to sell the game. It does have the good side of showing her signature twin pistols but for some reason there’s black stuff coming from them, are they dropping to bits? I don’t understand this artwork.