974th played so far

Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 2008
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Eidos Interactive

It’s hard not to feel that the Tomb Raider franchise has been overtaken. They are still decently well regarded, but after the most recent entries it seems like the series has lost it a bit. It doesn’t help that Uncharted seems to do what it does better, without as much of a veneer of misguided English imperialism, while I don’t think the series has really had a reinvention as we saw in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

All that is to say that with the last game in the series, I am not running out to play a new entry any time soon just yet, although we’ll see how this entry holds up.

Our Thoughts

I have to say that this game managed to put me in a bad mood early on. The PC port of the game, which I played because – well, why not, right? – is troubled and was released with some clear problems. If nothing else, you need to enable vsync for the game to work. It’s off by default, and by the time I found out I had already moved some boulders to an unwinnable state. It’s poor form considering that cost me 45 minutes of game time as I wasn’t expecting that, forcing me to restart the first proper level from scratch.

And there are some other issues as well. The controls feel like they’ve lost their shine since the earlier games, I died several times because the camera angle isn’t quite right, which felt unfair, and the only way I felt okay with it is that the deaths didn’t set me back that far. The combat is just as bad, not supporting stealth that well despite trying to set up levels for it and generally becoming firefights where aiming doesn’t work that well. There’s no joy in it.

The story is fine, although I didn’t get to see too much that really became interesting, but the paranormal elements it introduces seem interesting. The game really shines in its levels, which feel bigger and more open than others, with some very interesting, different worlds and settings that I know I’ve only scratched the surface of. It’s pretty neat and if the game felt better to play around it, it feels like they could really shine.

Final Thoughts

This might be the worst game in the Tomb Raider series I played – it felt like it’s backsliding when the Uncharted series is going in the other direction. It sounds like the later games picked it up somewhat, and it probably would have been on the list instead of this if it was released at the right time, but at this point Tomb Raider Underworld feels like one to avoid.