|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Crystal Dynamics||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Eidos Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Q4 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: TBA||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
May 7, 2008 - If you can believe it, Lara Croft has gone through yet another facelift! Will this be the definitive one? From what we've seen in videos and screenshots, there's almost no room for improvement, but we'll have to wait until the game is released to confirm the upcoming title is as awe-inspiring as it looks. Everything points to a holiday release, so be ready to shell out those dollars towards the end of 2008, because this new adventure might very well be worth it!
Tomb Raider Underworld takes our favorite adventure raider (other than Indiana) to ancient Mayan ruins in the heart of Mexico. Not many details have been unveiled just yet, but we know Lara will travel to this new location in hopes of unraveling the mystery surrounding the particular Mayan calendar and its five missing days: this is when the portal to the underworld opens up, leading to chaos. Hopefully after jumping around a bit and solving a good amount of puzzles, things will get better.
The game has been in development since Tomb Raider Legend was released, and the technology that's going into this title surpasses any other Lara Croft games by far. Simply said, Tomb Raider Underworld is a big step up from previous installments and will be sure to please fans around the globe.
Starting with dual lighting technology, advanced texturing effects, motion tracking, etc., Tomb Raider Underworld will more than prove to be a next-gen video game, at least in the case of Xbox 360, PS3, and PC versions. Lara's model has been reworked into a more advanced design composed by ten times as many polygons as the one we saw in Tomb Raider Legend. The way the lights and colors reflect into objects and characters depending on their surroundings will leave many of us open-mouthed. Also, as it happens in many current video games, the weather conditions will affect Lara's abilities to move around, climb, etc. Water will make things slippery; the sun will dry things out; mud will get Lara dirty; and rain will wash her off.
The environments will be much more interactive this time around, leaving the linear style behind and replacing it with a much more open-ended world. She'll be able to climb many kinds of walls and surfaces, as long as they're shaped appropriately or have a feasible texture where an actual person could climb. Objects in the surroundings will offer more interactivity; in some cases they'll even become key elements that'll trigger different outcomes or serve as tools, platforms, etc. It seems like the puzzle mechanics will be much more complex and refined, giving place to new challenges most gaming adventurers will appreciate.
Lara's acrobatic moves have also been greatly improved thanks to motion-tracking technology: professional gymnasts have made this possible; their flexible moves will be translated into the game as Lara's own. She won't only be grabbing ledges, climbing walls and columns, etc. Tomb Raider Underworld will also allow her to multitask like never before: Lara will be able to shoot her gun with one hand while hanging from a ledge with the other, use the grapple hook to latch into unsuspected areas or interact with objects while in precarious situations without falling. The grapple hook will play a more important role in Underworld, as it won't only let you grab onto things but also will serve to retrieve and possibly destroy objects.
Lara's motorcycle is back as well. It was used in Tomb Raider Legend, and it will be part of Underworld. We don't know how predominant it will be this time around, but the idea of racing around with it sounds like fun, as long as the game doesn't become the next Grand Theft Auto.
As it is to be expected, players will also notice the A.I. is much smarter than in previous installments. The enemies will calculate their moves and attack when they feel it's safe or wait until you attack them. They'll even run away sometimes, when things are getting ugly for them. If you plan it right, you can also make the enemies fight each other, like in the case of panthers and poachers that appear in the game demo.
Stay tuned for new details as they come up; we'll be sure to keep you informed! The game will be released for Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii, PC, and DS later in the year, so most of you should be able to get your hands on it when the time comes.
CCC Site Director