Official Nintendo Magazine

Log in to access exclusive Nintendo content, win prizes and post on our forums. Not a member yet? Join for free

Tomb Raider: Underworld Review

Lara's latest digs the franchise into a hole

It's been something of a bumper year for fans of creaky, past-their-prime archaelogists. Not only have they been treated to an unbelievably rubbish return from arch treasure hunter Indiana Jones but now they also have an arthiritic showing from Lara Croft to keep them busy.

After many years of the doldrums, Lara's last two offerings (Legend and Anniversary) returned a little spring to the old gal's step. The former successfully took the franchise back to basics after the dismal Angel Of Darkness, while the latter skilfully remade the first, and best, game in the series. Alas, picking up directly where Legend left off, Underworld, is a bit of a mess - glitchy, unfinished and tired.

Click to view larger image

Hammer Time

The plot sees Lara traversing the globe in search of Thor's Hammer while continuing to look into the fate of her parents. Naturally, she's pursued by the requisite ration of no-good goons, with a few old faces popping up along the way too.

Prior to release, Eidos some pretty bold claims that Underworld was really going to push the series forward, with the game going down a less linear, more free-roaming path, with context-sensitive environments and more realistic approach to puzzle-solving. Some of these promised innovations do indeed add to the formula. Lara moves beautifully and reacts to her environments more realistically than ever. For the first time, she's fully motion-captured, so she'll hop over logs without being prompted, duck under obstacles and even occasionally stumble when sprinting through a level.

Similarly, she has more freedom of movement than ever. She can now free climb up walls in eight directions, perform Mario-esque wall jumps and swing around environments with her grapple. Sure, this is all stuff that the Prince Of Persia franchise has been doing for the past five years or so but nevertheless, progress is progress.

The irritating button-mashing quick-time segments of old have been replaced with some reasonably successful 'adrenaline moments' where the game goes into slo-mo giving Lara time to perform lightning fast evasive manoeuvres, such as leaping out of the way of falling barrels or swinging off a collapsing platform.

Going Underground

That's where the positives end though. As soon as you dive off your boat into the Mediterranean and swim down into the first tomb, it becomes cleat that this is the same old Tomb Raider - linear, rather dated and a touch predictable. Shimmy up wall, jump from platform to platform, flick switch, swing off a pole, pick up item, go through door, shoot poor defenceless tiger, repeat.

Click to view larger image
There's nothing wrong with that per se. Sure, it's now the eighth time we've slogged through a Tomb Raider title but there was something warm and cosy about the old-school dynamics of Anniversary - it was like sliding your feet into pair of old slippers and sticking on an old re-run of Fawlty Towers. In Underworld though, the game is so glitchy and the camera so irredeemably gimped - it frequently gets stuck behind scenery or jammed in front of Lara's face - that traversing the tombs is often frustrating, with the game sometimes being rendered virtually unplayable.

Underworld reeks of a game that has been crudely shrunk down from its hi-def cousins on other systems and then hastily rushed out in time for Christmas before it can be properly patched up. There's some jarring pop-up, a grim frame-rate and some horrid textures to look forward to here. Occasionally, things come together and there's some fun to be had and hardcore Tomb Raider fans will no doubt derive enjoyment out of the sheer familiarity of it all. Unfortunately though, even the most die-hard Lara enthusiast can't ignore the fact that at times, this is shoddy, antique and hair-tearingly frustrating. It's a shame - Lara deserves much better than this.

Comments

27 comments so far...
Add a comment

  1. Metroidfan09 Thursday 20th Nov 2008 at 14:52

    Was it not that good ,i thought it was going to be EPIC

    is the camera that bad and are the glitches bad

  2. Bretteh Thursday 20th Nov 2008 at 15:35

    70 is still an acceptable score.
    From the tone of the review I'm surprised you gave it such a high score.

    Still looks interesting, but I would never have gotten it for the Wii anyway so hopefully the other consoles versions are superior.

  3. neomole Thursday 20th Nov 2008 at 16:11

    I know it would seem unfair to say this but I can't blame them for just porting the game from its hi-def version. Most people I know would rather buy the game on the PS3 than on the wii, even I would. The graphics are better and it was originally only on the playstation, it feels more 'comfortable' in a playstation controller than the wii remote and numchuck.

  4. Dark Toad Thursday 20th Nov 2008 at 16:24

    I know it would seem unfair to say this but I can't blame them for just porting the game from its hi-def version. Most people I know would rather buy the game on the PS3 than on the wii, even I would. The graphics are better and it was originally only on the playstation, it feels more 'comfortable' in a playstation controller than the wii remote and numchuck.

    I have to agree with this statement. I also think that it feels more comfortable playing it with the PlayStation controller.

  5. some randm freak Thursday 20th Nov 2008 at 16:54

    Tomb Raider 70%, Quantum of Solace 52%, Shaun White 80%.

    If you don't want to be a Guitar Hero or play a cube version of Animal Crossing what's left to play on the Wii this Christmas?

    Is it time to trade the Wii in for a Playstation?

    Yes. Unless you can afford to have both.

  6. PsychoPikmin Thursday 20th Nov 2008 at 17:56

    That's just stupid...


    ...how is the new Indiana Jones movie terrible?!!

  7. SuperSamus Thursday 20th Nov 2008 at 18:00

    70% Isn't bad. But you say that it's the same thing, Isn't Animal Crossing? Or Pokémon? Yet they get good scores. Anyway it doesn't matter, your the reviwers(sp?) and you know what it deserves. :wink:

  8. chazrinelli Thursday 20th Nov 2008 at 22:05

    That's just stupid...


    ...how is the new Indiana Jones movie terrible?!!

    It was rubbush, how could a million year old king bring out a UFO? ridiculous!

  9. FrederickONM Thursday 20th Nov 2008 at 23:49

    70% Isn't bad. But you say that it's the same thing, Isn't Animal Crossing? Or Pokémon? Yet they get good scores. Anyway it doesn't matter, your the reviwers(sp?) and you know what it deserves. :wink:

    Animal Crossing might have been very similar to the last game but at least it was polished, classy and built on very solid foundations. Underworld on the other hand, is just not finished - as we said in the review, it's glitchy, has a terrible camera and in places, more than a little broken.

  10. hpmad910 Friday 21st Nov 2008 at 15:02

    70% Isn't bad. But you say that it's the same thing, Isn't Animal Crossing? Or Pokémon? Yet they get good scores. Anyway it doesn't matter, your the reviwers(sp?) and you know what it deserves. :wink:

    Animal Crossing might have been very similar to the last game but at least it was polished, classy and built on very solid foundations. Underworld on the other hand, is just not finished - as we said in the review, it's glitchy, has a terrible camera and in places, more than a little broken.


    Hi...Frederick...haven't seen you before on the forums... anyhoo i'm not gettin' it:

    Played Legend(PS2): Hated it
    Played Anniversary(PS2+Wii): Hated it
    Saw bad review for underworld: Not Gettin' it

  11. YAYFORNINTENDO Friday 21st Nov 2008 at 17:19

    Tomb Raider 70%, Quantum of Solace 52%, Shaun White 80%.

    If you don't want to be a Guitar Hero or play a cube version of Animal Crossing what's left to play on the Wii this Christmas?

    Is it time to trade the Wii in for a Playstation?

    You could play the new Wii version of Animal Crossing.

  12. LordYoshiman Friday 21st Nov 2008 at 17:34

    Tomb Raider 70%, Quantum of Solace 52%, Shaun White 80%.

    If you don't want to be a Guitar Hero or play a cube version of Animal Crossing what's left to play on the Wii this Christmas?

    Is it time to trade the Wii in for a Playstation?


    No. To be honest, I am interested in no PS3 games this Christmas. And I own the system too. I already have LittleBigPlanet and it definitely does not live up to the hype, not even counting the crazy problems with moderation.

    And to be honest, I want Wii Music over Resistance 2 and Gears of War 2. And I'm not joking there, I actually do. It's... You know... Fun. As games USED to be. Not that I'm saying Resistance of Gears of War are bad, but shooting aliens for the second time is dull in comparison to playing an NES Horn. But that's just my opinion. Don't go yelling "BLASPHEMY!" at me.

    And besides, considering both the Wii and DS cost just a little over a PS3, if you think them as a double team nothing can go wrong really. I'll be importing Chrono Trigger and Kirby Super Star which should last me well into New Year.

  13. fisher2007 Friday 21st Nov 2008 at 18:12

    Tomb Raider 70%, Quantum of Solace 52%, Shaun White 80%.

    If you don't want to be a Guitar Hero or play a cube version of Animal Crossing what's left to play on the Wii this Christmas?

    Is it time to trade the Wii in for a Playstation?


    No. To be honest, I am interested in no PS3 games this Christmas. And I own the system too. I already have LittleBigPlanet and it definitely does not live up to the hype, not even counting the crazy problems with moderation.

    And to be honest, I want Wii Music over Resistance 2 and Gears of War 2. And I'm not joking there, I actually do. It's... You know... Fun. As games USED to be. Not that I'm saying Resistance of Gears of War are bad, but shooting aliens for the second time is dull in comparison to playing an NES Horn. But that's just my opinion. Don't go yelling "BLASPHEMY!" at me.

    And besides, considering both the Wii and DS cost just a little over a PS3, if you think them as a double team nothing can go wrong really. I'll be importing Chrono Trigger and Kirby Super Star which should last me well into New Year.

    so many rubbish games for the wii that's why my friend got rid of it.

  14. NEO.BAHAMUT Friday 21st Nov 2008 at 18:40

    I'm actually gonna try this game out. I can get it for Ł29 from Asda, so why not try it?

    A few glitches and a bad camera wont bother me at all! :D

  15. Adam2112 Friday 21st Nov 2008 at 19:14

    I'm actually gonna try this game out. I can get it for Ł29 from Asda, so why not try it?

    A few glitches and a bad camera wont bother me at all! :D


    Same here mate! I'm a massive Tomb Raider fan and I've been looking forward to this for ages so I'll have to get it. There are always a few glitches in Tomb Raider games, they've almost become a trademark. And a bad camera won't bother me!

    :D

  16. Anonymous Saturday 22nd Nov 2008 at 10:39

    I'm actually gonna try this game out. I can get it for Ł29 from Asda, so why not try it?

    A few glitches and a bad camera wont bother me at all! :D


    Same here mate! I'm a massive Tomb Raider fan and I've been looking forward to this for ages so I'll have to get it. There are always a few glitches in Tomb Raider games, they've almost become a trademark. And a bad camera won't bother me!

    :D


    I agree. In anniversary, if i fell, sometimes she would hit the floor but instead of dying, continuing the falling animation but on the ground, then her arms and ponytail glitch up and are flying all over the place. You have to reset it, no getting out of that. One time it happened and i hadnt saved for AGES. You can imagine how happy i was :evil:

  17. poisenjosh Saturday 22nd Nov 2008 at 12:17

    I have always been a Tomb Raider fan so despite the average review, i had to get it and see it for myself.

    Holly cow, you guys got it bang on, the camera has the most frustrating movements, theres no 180 camera correction or 1st person, which makes surching for climbing routes very tough and Lara doesn't even have her quick 180 turn any more.

    So far i have only played the first water Tomb level and this just did my head in.

    Why did they rush the developement of this game? they have only screwed it up releasing it early.

  18. lattywatty Saturday 22nd Nov 2008 at 15:58

    Damnit I was gonna get it for the Wii 'cuz I liked the anniversary controls on Wii but I guess I'll go for 360 now...

  19. lawrencer5 Sunday 23rd Nov 2008 at 10:35

    to be honest your'e really all over reacting over the glitches and camera 'cause other than that it's a great game. and also will everyone stop going off topic about this game and talking about a failing wii christmas. lets all be honest with ourselves here, no matter how many "rubbish" games there are the shops are still gonna be sold out. also people can buy games that aren't out right at christmas and AC is out with a very high score in this months ONM.argh. buy tomb raider.
    p.s. no i am not a edios employee.
    p.p.s it would be great if this came up in the rant section next month.

  20. Super_Sonic96 Sunday 23rd Nov 2008 at 17:38

    Exactly what every other critic said, and in the end it all boils down to one thing-it needed to be in development longer, it was rushed for christmas.

  21. PsychoPikmin Sunday 23rd Nov 2008 at 20:43

    70% Isn't bad. But you say that it's the same thing, Isn't Animal Crossing? Or Pokémon? Yet they get good scores. Anyway it doesn't matter, your the reviwers(sp?) and you know what it deserves. :wink:

    Animal Crossing might have been very similar to the last game but at least it was polished, classy and built on very solid foundations. Underworld on the other hand, is just not finished - as we said in the review, it's glitchy, has a terrible camera and in places, more than a little broken.


    Woah...!
    Who are you?
    The new editor?!

  22. nintendad1985 Tuesday 25th Nov 2008 at 22:46

    frederick!! you may beg for forgiveness right now!! i think the review is a little "up and down" more so down, i think you need to re-play it, and instead of comparing it to its prequels, take it for what it is, its a little glitchy, but i think the graphics are good and the story is fantastic....

    beg mokey boy, beg!! :twisted:

    http://aelliott.com/images/2002/s/02_12_02_01_milan_beggar_s.jpg

  23. NintendoGamer Saturday 29th Nov 2008 at 18:35

    I think I'll get it for xbox...

  24. Laughlyn Friday 12th Dec 2008 at 22:10

    Just entered the Mayan temple and after about 10 hours of god awful controls and dodgy camera angles i thankfull still have a bit of hair left.
    Its a great game and i've never really played the original games and just begun playin with Anniversary, i would like to play legends but was it released on Wii?
    Anyways the game is good, the checkpoints are frequent which is lucky when said dodgy controls and bad camera get u killed, i sometimes find that quick sucession of button presses just dont work and u fall back to the floor after 20 jumps, poles and wall climbs to do it all ove ragain or fall to ur death and go back to checkpoint.

    For Ł20 i cant really complain tho, just wish i'd played Legends first and kept up with the storyline

  25. BoredNinja Friday 19th Dec 2008 at 11:05

    I'm actually gonna try this game out. I can get it for Ł29 from Asda, so why not try it?

    A few glitches and a bad camera wont bother me at all! :D


    Same here mate! I'm a massive Tomb Raider fan and I've been looking forward to this for ages so I'll have to get it. There are always a few glitches in Tomb Raider games, they've almost become a trademark. And a bad camera won't bother me!

    :D


    I agree. In anniversary, if i fell, sometimes she would hit the floor but instead of dying, continuing the falling animation but on the ground, then her arms and ponytail glitch up and are flying all over the place. You have to reset it, no getting out of that. One time it happened and i hadnt saved for AGES. You can imagine how happy i was :evil:


    YEAHHH!!!
    ..i know what you guys mean...
    i've always been a TR fan.. (got all games...wooo!!)
    its always been really awesome.. but the wii kinda ruined it..
    i mean... for PS3 its really good 'cos there isnt many bad things about it...
    ..but for the wii... well i guess its just not working..
    ...
    im not sure whether its the wii's crappy memory and graphics or Eidos' problem.. but i'd play it anyway..
    =]

  26. BoredNinja Friday 19th Dec 2008 at 11:09

    Just entered the Mayan temple and after about 10 hours of god awful controls and dodgy camera angles i thankfull still have a bit of hair left.
    Its a great game and i've never really played the original games and just begun playin with Anniversary, i would like to play legends but was it released on Wii?
    Anyways the game is good, the checkpoints are frequent which is lucky when said dodgy controls and bad camera get u killed, i sometimes find that quick sucession of button presses just dont work and u fall back to the floor after 20 jumps, poles and wall climbs to do it all ove ragain or fall to ur death and go back to checkpoint.

    For Ł20 i cant really complain tho, just wish i'd played Legends first and kept up with the storyline


    lol... go to youtube and watch the tomb raider start scene and the ending... and you've got the plot..
    =]

  27. justshellee Sunday 19th Jul 2009 at 14:08

    havent played this on the wii,
    but i can say that the ds version is disappointing,
    very bad camera angles,
    and it was soo easy to complete
    as a big tomb raider fan, i wasnt impressed! :cry:

Register or log in to commment
Add a comment
Nintendo Co., Ltd. is the owner of certain copyright which subsists and trade marks and other intellectual property rights in certain content, characters, artwork, logos, scripts and representations used in this publication. All rights are expressly recognised and they are used by Future Publishing Limited under licence © 2006 Nintendo Co., Ltd. All rights reserved. "Nintendo", "International Nintendo Licensed Product" "Nintendo DS", "Nintendo DS Lite", "Nintendo DSi", "Nintendo 3DS", "Nintendo DSi XL", "Nintendo 3DS XL", "Wii" and "Wii U" and the associated logos are the trademarks of Nintendo Co. Ltd. All rights reserved.