Tomb Raider Underworld
Publisher: Eidos Interactive Price: £49.99 Format: PlayStation 3 (also on Xbox 360, PS2, PC, Wii, DS) Age rating: 16+ WITH a trowel in one hand and a semi-automatic in the other, Lara Croft is not your typical archaeologist, but she does make a particula
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Format: PlayStation 3 (also on Xbox 360, PS2, PC, Wii, DS)
Age rating: 16+
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WITH a trowel in one hand and a semi-automatic in the other, Lara Croft is not your typical archaeologist, but she does make a particularly brilliant videogame character. Instantly identifiable to a generation of PlayStation fans, the karate-kicking aristocrat has put the sins of her recent past behind her to star in a glorious return to form.
Tomb Raider Underworld is a fun, globetrotting adventure. Lara's adventures take her to the coast of Thailand, the frozen islands of the Arctic Sea, the jungles of Mexico and beneath the waves of the Mediterranean Sea. With trouble never far away, our agile heroine has to use all her acrobatic skills to stay one step ahead of the enemy, as well as spending time solving an array of head-scratching puzzles.
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More than 2,000 frames of motion-captured animation have been devoted to her athletic posturing, so Lara is as lithe as ever, capable of performing backflips and cartwheels at the tap of a button. Whether she is abseiling down a cliff face, balancing on a beam, leaping across a chasm or hanging off a ledge while firing her gun, the game's controls are spot on - something that could not be said about previous games in the series. As well as her new Prince of Persia-inspired agility, Lara can also target two enemies at once with both her pistols now under independent control, an innovation that adds an extra dimension to firefights.
For all the new athleticism and striking visual style, the game play remains incredibly familiar. You enter a chamber, solve a puzzle, vanquish an opponent, find an escape route and proceed to the next set piece. It is vintage Tomb Raider while the game's supporting cast is as inventive as ever, featuring man-sized bats, killer sharks, rabid tigers, yetis and a race of lizardmen.
With the latest Prince of Persia game only two weeks away from release, it remains to be seen whether Tomb Raider Underworld can hang onto its adventuring crown, but for the moment this is as good as it gets.