A Missed Gem – Tomb Raider Underworld

A Missed Gem – Tomb Raider Underworld

Recently I had the opportunity to revisit the Tomb Raider franchise before the reboot. I commemorated the experience by writing an article on Tomb Raider Legend, and more specifically, on the bootstrap paradox. It was something I had not seen back in 2006, and trust me, I was obsessed with the game. I played it unhealthily a lot, that when I came back to replay it in the present day, I could remember almost every hidden secret throughout the levels!

Today’s article is about the successor of the story unfolding in TR Legend – TR Underworld. As TR Anniversary is a remake of the first Tomb Raider from 1996, many fans, including me, do not number the game, and also, chronologically Anniversary takes place before Legend and Underworld.

If you would ask me what is TR Underworld in a few words, I’d say it’s a missed gem. I can only ask so much myself why didn’t I have as much appreciation for the game, as I do today after starting the replay. Maybe it was due to 2008 being a busy year, or maybe it was my outdated video card that I had which made the greatest visual lag. All you could see was Lara’s movement skipping in frames. That must say how much I valued the game even back then never the less, since I finished it with the visual lag. I must note here that I have replayed the game numerous times around then, too. Going back to it now, however, I must underline I’m falling in love all over again’ (Lara, Tomb Raider Legend).

The graphics are amazing and that allows for the breathtaking beauty of the game to be realized. I can hear the ambient soundtrack in Thailand just as I’m writing this, or even more so, the battle track that plays out during combat, inspired by the Norse culture. I haven’t gone far into the game, yet, because I am taking my time. As much as Underworld has won my heart, I do undertake the adventure with a critical eye. I analyze the level as I play, I watch for any glitches in the extensive motion-captured animations of Lara, I watch for the environment around me. I must say I have a few remarks, as it happens for me to try to execute a jump and climb, and shift, all at the same time, which only makes me feel bad for Lara as I see her struggle to understand and hope for me to make up my mind. It results in a funny twist of her ponytail, a bit of a sudden switch between animations, but it’s something that happens with as much fluidity as possible. Not anyone would notice these details, and the fluidity of the animations only speaks for the effort the developers have put in. It definitely isn’t an eyesore.

The game features a variety of locations that do the game justice of showcasing how breathtaking a Tomb Raider game can be. Something, that is remarkable to Tomb Raider, and something that by no means is lacking in the other titles from the franchise. I just have to express my shame in not appreciating this eight instalment of the series as much as I am now.

The story is part of a trilogy and the conclusion to it (the story chronologically is Anniversary – Legend – Underworld, and by release: Legend (2006) – Anniversary (2007) – Underworld (2008). Many fans, including myself, have concurred that Lara isn’t as badass as we know and love her to be as she is in the ‘Classics’(Tomb Raider 1 – 6). Well, of the trilogy, Legend and Anniversary stand out as the more soft and feely ones for Lara, but this playthrough around, I have to express that the developers, as listening as they always have been to the community, they have taken note for Underworld, and Lara has tried to regain her standing. I mighty good attempt and success!

The game has what to offer as content and as inner reflection during you explore the various hubs of the game. I really love the extensive options for the gameplay that have been added. You can disable any tooltips or visual cues so you can really immerse into the environment!

If I have to rate it stand-alone, in a vacuum, I say it’s 8 out of 10. If you are a fan of exploration, puzzle, acrobatics and occasional weapon combat, you will not regret it!