Tomb Raider: Underworld review

The new Tomb Raider game has been put back to 2013, but in the meantime Mac users can while away the soggy summer with this rather belated version of Tomb Raider: Underworld from 2008, in which Lara shimmies into yet another skintight costume and heads off on a quest that somehow ties together the ancient British legend of Avalon, norse mythology and Thor’s big old sledge hammer, Mjolnir.

Despite its age, Underworld actually looks pretty good, kicking off with a visit to a spectacular underwater temple that is guarded by a gigantic kraken. From there Lara heads off on a typically globe-trotting adventure that takes in jungles and mountain tops as she tries to uncover the secret that led to her father’s death.

Lara herself is also pretty spry in her old age, climbing and leaping around like a monkey as she explores each location and attempts to escape from an endless series of brain-teasing traps. Those puzzles have always been the heart of the Tomb Raider adventures, and there’s no doubt that the puzzles in Underworld are challenging. Even at the start of the game I found myself scratching my head as I tried to figure out how to shift the vast kraken away from the entrance to the inner chamber of the temple.

If you enjoy those sorts of puzzles then you’ll certainly find that Underworld keeps you engrossed for many hours. However, the format is starting to feel a bit dated nowadays. You’ll often find that there’s just a single specific escape route out of many locations, or that you need to spend time just wandering around in order to locate a concrete block or a special key that will help you to solve a particular puzzle. That leaves Lara’s adventures looking distinctly old school when compared to the more freeform style of play found in many more recent games.

Underworld features some impressive locations and battles

OUR VERDICT

Old school does still have its charms, and if you’ve enjoyed Lara’s adventures in the past then you’ll no doubt feel right at home with Underworld. However, the formula does need updating, so let’s hope that next year’s reboot can come up with a few new tricks.

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