Saturday, August 28, 2010

Video game number two hundred and forty nine: Tomb Raider Underworld

Video game review number two hundred and forty nine in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Tomb Raider Underworld"

This will be the last of this week's Tomb Raider marathon, and the end couldn't come quick enough. I actually thought I might take a break from Tomb Raider games after that last one, but I decided that I should push through it, so I could enjoy the rest of my weekend of gaming. I like to think of it like eating all the vegetables on your plate first, then savoring the main course that you've left for yourself.

Tomb Raider Underworld takes place after the last game. The one I hated. It opens with Lara Croft blowing up the mansion, which I actually didn't mind, because I had spend so much time flipping around in there trying to find the damn artifacts. It was actually satisfying to watch it burn to the ground in the opening scenes of this game...although I imagine it's not supposed to be.

I made my way through the fiery remains of Lara Crofts annoying home, by way of a "tutorial" that teaches you the basic moves of the character. Even though I should be familiar with them by now, I still managed to burn myself to death no less than 5 or 6 times, because of the shitty jumping controls.

I got the achievement for beating the prologue, and while I should have quit right then and there, I felt that 10 minutes was not enough time to give the game an honest shake. I moved on to the next level.

Lara is in some kind of vinyl one piece bathing suit (best outfit yet), because she's about to go diving. This is the beginning of what is quite possibly the worst "water level" in any video game I have ever played.

You dive down, with no map and no aim, trying to find a cave, only I had no idea that was my goal. There is an on screen hint that tells you what you need to do (if you click it) but even that wasn't much help. I have no idea how Joe Average player is supposed to know where to dive, so I went to the net, and found a guide.

With this trusty guide, I was able to traverse the murky, blue/gray water to find the cave that I needed to go to. The cave opening was hiding in the midst of giant (similarly colored) underwater rocks, and honestly....without the guide, I'm not sure how long I would have had to explore before I had found it. The underwater graphics are shit, and the only thing you can truly distinguish from the rest of the enviornment is Lara Crofts ass, which you get to stare out while you swim endlessly around in this shit-tactular level.

Eventually, you enter the cave, and after collecting some artifacts (including one that must be collected from another cave altogether), you eventually find dry land once again. I got stuck when I entered a room with a giant Kraken in it, so I consulted the guide again to find the solution to one of the more convoluted puzzles I've seen in an adventure game. First you have to find and flip some switches, shoot some chains (in VERY specific places with no onscreen indicator that they must be fired upon) and finally pull some levers in order to kill this giant sea creature (who is blocking your exit). Never mind the fact you're carrying your trademark double pistols and a spear gun....this way is supposedly more fun.

By the time I killed him, I didn't want to play anymore. It had been an hour, and I was ready to quit...but I wanted to see how close I was to the end of the level. I consulted the guide.

Not very.

I quit.

Overall Score? 4/10. Again, this type of game is not my cup of tea, and I don't think I'll ever come back to it again. I must admit that when I was on land, it was marginally better than the last one, but only by a tiny, tiny degree. Honestly, I have no idea how anyone beats these without strategy guides, and if so...WHY? How is it fun? It just doesn't compute for me.

Achievements? More than the last two. That's good at least.

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