In this year, a global financial crisis deepened. Stock markets plunged due to fears of a recession in the USA, governments took control of banks in Britain, Iceland and USA and the Lehman Brothers file for bankruptcy protection. Coups and rebel assaults occurred in East Timor, Chad, Mauritania, Guinea and Comoros. Islamic terrorist attacks occurred in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, India, Algeria and China. Riots and protests occurred in Greece, Nigeria, India, Thailand and China. Fighting occurred in Lebanon and between Russia and Georgia in South Ossetia. The Olympics take place in Beijing. Following rocket fire and attacks inside Israel, the Israeli military launched a military operation, consisting of airstrikes followed by a ground invasion, to combat the armed groups’ ability to launch rockets. Films released this year included dramatisations of events in recent history (The Bank Job, Milk, Frost/Nixon, etc.), comedies about actual events (How to Lose Friends and Alienate People and W.), thrillers with complex storylines (Burn After Reading, RocknRolla, Eagle Eye, etc.), comedies about making films (Tropic Thunder, Hamlet 2, Bolt, etc.), comedies with adult themes (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Pineapple Express, etc.), films which used heroes form the 1980’s (Rambo, Speed Racer, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, etc.), films based on older TV shows (The X-Files: I Want to Believe, Get Smart, Sex and the City, etc.), films based on children’s books (Twilight, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, etc.), renowned dramas (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, The Wrestler, Slumdog Millionaire, etc.), films which use an innovative idea (Cloverfield, Wanted, Bangkok Dangerous, etc.) and superhero films (Ironman, The Incredible Hulk, The Dark Knight, etc.). James Bond was involved in an action-packed story which heavily involved events from the previous film in Quantum of Solace. Music released this year included songs about devoted love sung by men (Jason Mraz, The Script, etc.), songs about broken relationships (James Morrison featuring Natalie Imbruglia, P!nk, Noah and the Whale, etc.), songs about bad lovers sung by women (Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Girls Aloud, etc.) and Coldplay produced a song about a fallen leader. Computer games released this year included fourth games in popular series (Grand Theft Auto IV, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Devil May Cry 4, etc.). Into this mix entered Tomb Raider: Underworld.
A huge explosion rips through a stately home, turning the front of the mansion into fiery ruin.
Lara, walking through a corridor made of stone, feels the ground shake beneath her. Struggling to keep balance, she sees the ends of the corridor burst into flames. “My God!” she exclaims, staring at the flames with a frightened look.
A young man, dressed in a light coloured sweater and jeans, and an elderly butler are standing in the hall of Croft Manor, attempting to open a heavy wooden door. “Look out!” the younger man, named Zip, shouts as he sees Lara watching them and aims a gun at her.
“Stop! It’s Lara!” the butler yells as Zip shoots an object placed on a table.
“I know!” Zip replies, struggling with the old man as he raises his gun again. Lara rolls across the carpeted floor as Zip fires a volley of shots, following her across the burning room.
“Wait” the older man pleads.
One week earlier…
A small, white yacht rests on the surface of murky water on a clouded day. Lara, dressed in a black and yellow wetsuit, studies the horizon on the top deck of the boat. A sound distracts her. She gives a final look to the sky before climbing down a ladder to the lower deck. She walks over to a small laptop placed on a counter and presses a button.
Zip appears on the screen, “Hey, Lara. Find it yet?”.
“Patience, Zip.” Lara replies with a smile. “I warned you that conveniently undiscovered islands would be scarce in the Mediterranean.”
A young man dressed in a suit usually seen in nightclubs appears. “Are you sure this Eddington chap knows what he’s talking about?” he asks, pleadingly.
Lara looks across at a photograph of two smiling men. “If he says Father was convinced the path to Avalon was here, I have no reason to doubt it.”
“Fair enough, but it’s…well…” the man in the casual suit says “we’ve been talking about it and-”
“You’ve been talking about it, man. Leave me out of it.” Zip interrupts.
“It’s just…all right, maybe Avalon is real…” He continues while Lara loads her small pistol “…but just because some mad woman tells you your…” Lara suddenly turns and scrutinises the screen as she listens to the man “…your mother didn’t die after all… I mean, look…” he becomes less certain as he continues speaking “I, I don’t want to seem heartless, but this idea of your mum living in some…” Lara, squatting down to pick up breathing apparatus, stops to consider his opinions “…some Celtic underworld…” feeling her anger growing she rises to a standing position “…it’s a, it’s a little bit mental, isn’t it?”
“I have no illusions that my mother is holding court in some mythical paradise, Alister.” she replied angrily, striding towards the laptop. “I only want the truth, whatever it may be.” she continues in a calmer voice. “I’ll ring you later.”. She presses a button to end the video call. She turns, leaves the cabin and jumps into the water.
The player explores an underwater building, discovering it is an early Norse building with reference to Niflheim (the Norse equivalent of Avalon), and kills a large, blind kraken. She finds one of the iron gauntlets the Norse god Thor used to wield his hammer, Mjolnir. After touching the glove, it disintegrates to become a small device which, using straps, Lara attaches onto her left hand. A group of armed men appear and knock her unconscious, removing her newly acquired device and ammunition, before the men trap her behind rubble and mention Amanda Evert.
Returning to her yacht, Lara sees a larger ship nearby and infiltrates the vessel. A shootout causes explosive gas to ignite and damaging the ship. While exploring the boat, Lara finds Amanda complaining the artefact will only fit Lara’s hand. Amanda leaves and Lara discovers she was talking with Jacqueline Natla, imprisoned within a clear cylinder. Natla reveals she told Amanda about Avalon and the dais Lara and her mother found was part of a transport network that took her mother to Avalon. She further informs Lara that her father found Niflheim, but needed to find Helheim, and tried to find Thor’s hammer (which is needed to enter Helheim). She tells Lara to go to the West Coats of Thailand at the seventh parrallel, before her prison is lifted into the sky by a large helicopter. Lara escapes the sinking ship, while a helicopter rescues Amanda, who throws the device into the sea. Lara retrieves the device.
In Thailand, Lara reveals the reason the locations have many names is because many myths referred to the same set of ruins of buildings from an ancient civilisation, which Natla was part of. Lara finds ancient buildings and reference to Bhogavati, the capital of Patala (the lowest infernal world in Hindu tradition and home to snake-men). She discovers older ruins similar to Niflheim and is able to use the gauntlet to move heavy objects with a blue light. She also learns the gauntlets, belt (Megingord) and hammer (Mjolnir) are protected by “the dead” to keep Jormungardr at bay. She also finds a message left by her father, suggesting he wishes to prevent Natla fulfilling her plan and has stolen the second gauntlet and destroyed a map.
At Croft Manor, Lara’s butler shows her the hidden entrance to the Croft family’s crypt. Realising that her father signed his message with the initials “RJC” as a clue, Lara discovers a secret passage below her grandfather’s tomb. Exploring a hidden, underground church, Lara finds a room containing items her father recovered from Bhogavati. A tape message from her father tells Lara he found one of Thor’s gauntlets and a map showing where the objects needed to open the path to Avalon were. Informing Lara that the Norse believed a powerful weapon was kept in the location, he destroyed the original map. Lara recovers an artefact from the gauntlet.
After defeating a few strange creatures who guarded the gauntlet, Lara returns to Croft Manor to find the building ablaze. Running through the burning building, Lara finds Zip and her butler struggling with the front door. Zip turns and tries to shoot Lara, before she draws her guns and convinces him to stop. He tells her someone, who resembled her and was able to pass through the retina scanner, blew open the Lara’s vault, stole Amanda’s wraith stone (from the Tomb Raider: Legend game) and shot at Zip. Lara tells them to escape outside while she reviews the security footage.
Inside an enclosed room with powerful computers, Lara sees her double in the burning mansion. Lara watches as Alister appears, coughing in the smoke, and is shot by her mysterious double. The double displays fast speed and good combat skills, before knocking Lara onto her back and making a series of powerful jumps to escape the fire. She tries to help Alister, but he dies, promising to meet her in Avalon, and she shows some anger.
Zip and the Butler watch as Lara’s double runs away and Lara brings Alister’s body to them. Lara suggests the doppelganger is similar to one Natla sent after her before, except this one is more independent. Suggesting Amanda and Natla (who Lara claims is an Atlantean god) have formed a team, Lara decides to travel to southern Mexico to retrieve Thor’s Belt. Zip, upset at Alister’s death, argues with Lara over her cold attitude to her friend’s death, before she angrily tells him she needs Thor’s Belt and Hammer to “kill a god”.
Lara finds a calendar among ruins in southern Mexico and uses it to open the “gates to the Underworld” (an underground structure). The underground building is labelled as “The Place of Fear” (or Xibalba, the Mayan land of the dead), where the Lords of Xibalba used trap rooms to kill visitors for sport. Exploring the ruins, Lara finds reference to the mythological Midgard Serpent, Jormungandr, who lies on the bottom of the ocean and encircles the world. Another engraving depicts Ragnarok, when Jormungandr thrashes beneath the sea, floods the earth and spews poisonous gas into the air, before Thor kills the serpent with his hammer and he dies due to the snake’s poison after retreating nine steps. The structure also contains a strange, glowing liquid which seems to cause living creatures to become undead, causing the ruins to inspire underworld myths in later civilisations. Lara finds Thor’s Belt, which collapses, leaving behind a small artefact which activates the gauntlets. After existing the hidden ruins, Lara contacts Zip. Zip informs Lara that he has managed to locate the coordinates for Jan Mayen Island, using photos of her father’s map.
At an island in the Arctic, Lara finds an ancient structure. She is informed by Zip that Amanda is on board an identical ship to the one she used in the Mediterranean Sea. The ship, called the Tisiphone, is anchored off the coast of Thailand, suggesting Amanda is following Lara’s journey. Exploring the ruins, which lead deep underground, Lara finds a large gate. It is suggested the gate is Valgrind, the Gate of the Dead, which leads to Valhalla, Odin’s hall where slain warriors came to prepare for Ragnarok. Lara opens the gate and continues into the structure, finding an undead yeti creature she believes was the inspiration for the frost giants in Viking stories. Lara discovers Thor’s hammer and an inscription, proclaiming that Odin will return after Thor is reunited with his hammer and father and son will open the seals of Helheim and fulfil their destinies. Lara decides to visit Natla to discover the location of Helheim.
Using her boat, Lara finds Amanda’s ship in the Andaman Sea and climbs aboard. Lara quickly finds Natla still trapped within her prison. Natla reveals that the hammer is needed to enter Avalon and a ritual needs to be performed. Lara agrees to work with Natla and prepares to smash the cylinder with Thor’s hammer when Amanda and Lara’s double appears. After threatening to avenge Alister, Lara and Amanda prepare to battle using the hammer and stone, respectively. Lara’s double suddenly grabs Amanda and throws her into a pit. Lara directs a number of attacks at the double, who dodges them, and smashes Natla’s prison in anger. She allows Natla to escape, who leaves behind the coordinates to Avalon.
Lara follows the coordinates to an ice sheet in the Arctic. Using explosives, she makes a hole in the ice and dives into the water. She finds a grand ruin underwater. Inside, Lara watches as Natla performs a ritual to open an elaborate door. Lara uses the hammer to complete the ritual to open a path inside the structure.
Exploring further into the structure, Lara finds a figure at the edge of a chasm, with the glowing liquid flowing from a gap in the ceiling. Lara calls to the figure, recognising her mother, who turns and reveals to be an undead creature (called a thrall). Lara draws a gun as her mother advances, telling herself that her mother died long ago, she reluctantly fires a volley of shots and forces her mother backwards into the pit.
As Lara mourns, Natla appears. Telling Lara that she used Lady Croft’s disappearance to manipulate Lara’s father into finding something for her. When he betrayed her in Thailand, Natla killed Richard Croft. Later, when Lara appeared with Thor’s gauntlet, Natla knew she was able to use Lara to find Avalon. Lara lifts Thor’s hammer in anger, before her double appears. Lara’s double disarms Lara and holds her arms in a lock. Natla tells Lara she created the double for Amanda, who was unaware Natla intended the double to be used to kill Lara, and leaves to raise a serpent.
Lara breaks free of her double’s hold and briefly fights her, until the double forces her onto her back and aims her fist at Lara. Suddenly, the double’s attack is stopped and she is lifted into the air and thrown into the pit. It is revealed that Amanda was able to lift the double using the power of her wraith stone. She tells Lara she wants to help her as only Thor’s hammer can stop the Midgard Serpent. Realising an army of large thralls had appeared, Amanda agreed to use her wraith stone to fight the creatures while Lara stops Natla.
Lara finds Natla standing on a stone structure surrounding a large machine in the shape of a serpent. Natla tells Lara the Jormungandr is actually a network of tectonic plates which encircles the Earth on the ocean floor. Avalon is located on the site the weakest point of the network, where the ancient continent of Pangea first broke into two pieces. The machine causes a large impact to hit the site below and causes “the very seams of the plant to burst”, leading to Ragnarok (or the “Seventh Age”). Amanda appears, fighting the thralls, until an attack from Natla causes her to lose consciousness.
The player detaches the machine from the stone structure keeping it in position, causing the machine to collapse. Natla attempts to hold the machine in place, but Lara throws Thor’s hammer at her and she falls into the pool of glowing liquid. Lara wakes Amanda and the two of them find a similar circle of stones to the one in Nepal Lady Croft used to transport to Avalon. Realising the device was broken, Lara repairs it while Amanda activates it using the sword in the central stone. The two hold hands, which allows both Amanda and Lara to use the machine.
Amanda and Lara return to the ancient monastery in Nepal where Lara’s mother disappeared many years before. Lara picks up the sword while Amanda takes out her wraith stone. Realising that Amanda wants to fight her, Lara questions the point of her killing Lara. Lara withdraws the sword and the wraith stone loses power, leading to Amanda limping away. Lara picks up the drawing she created as a child and turns to the stone device. “Goodbye, Mother. Rest in peace.” Lara says sadly before leaving the structure.
At this point, I would like to make it clear I am reviewing the version of the game available on the Playstation 2 and not the ones available on the X-Box 360 or Playstation 3.
I actually have a theory about this game. The two previous games in the series (Tomb Raider: Legend and Tomb Raider Anniversary) were released on the Playstation 2 in the years before the Playstation 3 was produced. Tomb Raider: Underworld, however, could be released on the Playstation 3, a machine that was able to allow the game to be designed in higher quality graphics than the Playstation 2. Another market was also identified, players who had played the other games in the trilogy, but could not afford or were unwilling to purchase the more expensive console, and were willing to play the final game on the Playstation 2. This situation resulted in the production of the Playstation 2 version of the Tomb Raider: Underworld game. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide any evidence of this, so it is just a theory, but it would explain why the game can feel a little cheap.
I was actually provided with a guide for the X-Box 360 and Playstation 3 versions of the game, which actually provided clear examples of how this game can seem like a cheaper version. The graphics are greatly improved in these versions of the game (which can be expected). Some of the levels require the player to solve very easy puzzles (such as in Southern Mexico, where a missing object is kept on a shelf nearby) in this version of the game, while the improved games have more difficult obstacles and need more skill to play. A lot of the enemies have been removed from the game (such as the spiders in the Croft Manor level), which can reduce the amount of action in the game. The Kraken seems badly designed, the monster makes no action to stop the player as they prepare to kill it and the top of it sways gently, while the lower half remains still (creating a bad effect). Coming into contact with the creature or the pool of water surrounding it instantly kills Lara in a very lazy manner. There are other examples of this game being a low quality version of the other games.
This game functions as a sequel to Tomb Raider: Legend and uses aspects of Tomb Raider Anniversary (which had seemed like an update to the original game to celebrate the eleven years since the release of the first game). As a result, this game uses many of the features used in Tomb Raider: Legend.
The story is similar to the story from the previous game (and uses aspects of the earlier games). In this game, Lara travels to a variety of international locations to search for a collection of objects which are linked, while competing against a deadly enemy wanting to use the objects to increase their power. The story follows from the previous game, after Lara threatens Amanda and travels to Avalon in search of her mother. Interestingly, this game expands on an idea used in the previous game. In Tomb Raider: Legend, Lara searches for pieces of a powerful sword, which is supposed to feature in a large number of myths, but only the story of the last queen of Tiwanaku and the legend of Excalibur are mentioned during the game. In this game, the ancient ruins used to house Thor’s equipment are suggested as the causes of myths about the underworld found in various cultures (with the different structures being referred to as Avalon, Helheim, Niflheim, Bhogavati, Xibalba and Valhalla).
The background of the story is formed by the story of the Norse god Thor. Lara has to retrieve Thor’s equipment (belt and gauntlets) to be able to use his hammer to defeat the Midgard Serpent and prevent Ragnarok. This is intended to mimic the myth of Thor. As a result, a network of structures (described as similar to Norse buildings in design, but older) were built to house the artefacts. It is not really explained what this civilisation was, whether it was a group of early Norsemen or a more powerful culture, as the artefacts more resemble advanced technology rather than mystical objects. It is interesting that the Midgard Serpent is actually a device to cause the tectonic plates to shift as it makes this the only game in the series to use the geological history of the earth as a weapon. It is strange that the serpent is a piece of machinery rather than an actual monster though, as the early games seemed to include a huge creature as a final boss and this game used a kraken in the opening level (proving the developers were willing to include mythological monsters in the game).
A lot of the game uses Norse mythology. According to the Norse Mythology website, Thor is the strongest of the Norse gods, but is less intelligent and has a quick temper. Thor owns a powerful hammer (called Mjolnir), a pair of iron gauntlets and a belt (called Megingford) which increase his strength. The hammer can sent out lightening bolts, but can also revive dead animals and people. Many of the locations used are also from Norse mythology. Niflheim is described as the “coldest and darkest region in the world” and is the source of all living things and cold rivers. Valhalla is the place where people would go if they died in battle, the residents would fight each day and enjoy a feast each evening in a huge hall made of golden shields and wooden spear shafts. Helheim is the home of people who died outside of battle. Ragnarok is how the Vikings believed the world would end. The Midgard Serpent was a huge creature which encircled the land and poisoned Thor before he killed it. Apparently, he was also the son of Loki, a god. A series of events will lead to Ragnarok and cause a great battle between the gods and warriors from Valhalla against the giants and the dead from Helheim, with a number of events occurring (such as the Midgard Serpent emerging and poisoning the world, the burning of the home of the gods, the deaths of a number of gods, etc.), before the world is re-born. According to Tribal Roots of Hinduism, Bhogavati was the capital city of a race of snake-demons (called the Nagas) in the subterranean world and features in Hindu mythology. According to the Myth Encyclopedia website, Xibalba was an underground realm of the dead in Mayan mythology and used caves and pools of water as entrances. A myth describes how the lords of Xibalba tricked people into playing ball games and used different houses to torture their opponents, before they were killed. Eventually, two players won the game and tricked the lords into being killed.
This game includes the characterisation of the previous games in the trilogy. Amanda is shown to be a secondary villain in this game and it is suggested she has been manipulated throughout her attempt to find Avalon. Unlike in the Tomb Raider: Legend game, Amanda seems to slightly reconcile with Lara, agreeing to help her stop Natla and allowing Lara to use the transport device with her, however, she also wishes to fight her former friend until she loses the power of the wraith stone. Natla resembles the character in the Tomb Raider Anniversary game. She wishes to unleash the “seventh age” (which is still not explained) and has manipulated Lara, Amanda and Richard Croft to achieve this aim. Her background is slightly expanded, it is suggested that she is part of the ancient civilisation that built the structures and Midgard Serpent, but this aspect is not developed further. Strangely, her character design has changed. In Tomb Raider Anniversary, she looked quite reptilian, in this game, she resembles a slightly glamorous, middle aged, blonde woman (with wings and a white outfit), which is closer to how she looks in the first Tomb Raider game. Lara’s colleagues (Zip and Alister) have a smaller role in the game. They appear in person in few animated sequences and provide plot details at the beginning of each level. In the versions of the game with improved graphics, they are shown as a video link on a computer screen, in this version, a screen shows their pictures with their voices as background noise. Alister’s death provides a dramatic point in the story, but it is quickly overshadowed by greater events. They do not provide commentary during the levels either, making Lara a lone hero (like in earlier games) and their humour is only applied to a few animated sequences. Lara’s butler has a slight role, alone with the double from the first Tomb Raider game.
Lara Croft resembles her character from Tomb Raider: Legend and Tomb Raider Anniversary. Like in the previous games, she is trying to rescue her mother and her father’s actions feature during the story. She finds her mother and, in a sad twist, is forced to kill her after she has turned into a thrall. She mourns over the death of her mother and Alister, but manages to recuperate to continue her fight against Natla. Her anger over Alister death leads to her threatening Natla. She is also reluctant to fight her former friend Amanda, deciding that she needs Amanda’s help and seems to hope they can end their feud. The game ends with Lara finally accepting her mother’s death (after defeating her as a thrall). This shows Lara as the more emotional and warmer character from the previous two games, rather than the early games.
The game also seems to have a theme of parents coming to the help of their offspring. The story revolves around Lara finding Avalon to rescue her lost mother, a continuation of her father’s quest. Richard Croft’s most significant feature in the story was working out how he was being manipulated by Natla and hiding one of Thor’s gauntlets. He also left a clue which would only help his daughter. During the Jan Mayern Island, Lara learns that a prophecy states, following Thor’s recovery of his hammer, Thor will be reunited with his father, Odin, and will travel to Helheim to fulfil their destinies. A removed aspect of the story seems to slightly develop this theme. According to a game guide, there was a plan to include two characters, Dr Peter Eddington (who is only named in the game) and his niece, Jessica. Another artefact, called Odin’s Eye, would take possession of the little girl and one of Lara’s motivation to complete her quest would be to rescue her. This storyline was removed from the final game, apparently because the developers felt it would complicate the story and the little girl could seem more annoying than likeable.
The designs used in the game are interesting. The settings for this game are mostly ruins, which can be overgrown areas (Mexico and Thailand levels), underwater (Mediterranean Sea level) or underground (Croft Manor, Jan Mayern Island or Arctic Sea levels). Part of the Mediterranean Sea level and the Andaman Sea level take place on ships (providing industrial environments).
Some of the level on board the ship in the Mediterranean Sea takes place as the ship is sinking, which adds an interesting feature to the level, as the player has to climb up corridors (instead of running along them) and creates interesting visual elements. The Coastal Thailand level uses ornate ruins and luscious jungle (including a huge statue and a tree within the ruins). It is also possible to compare the bright sea in this level to the murky waters of the Mediterranean Sea in the previous level. The Croft Manor level includes dark caves and a large church (with stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings). The Southern Mexico level takes place during rain, is the largest environment (with roads that lead to various parts of the ruins) and features a grand entrance to a ruin. Some of the level takes place underground and the game manages to convey a cold feel to the environment The Jan Mayern Island has a road through a snowy landscape, a stone corridor which spirals downwards and (using falling snow and dark rooms) manages to create a freezing atmosphere. The Arctic Sea level also creates a sense of cold (using the mysterious liquid to create a light blue light) and features an interesting climb on a large machine.
The levels also feature the ruins used to house Thor’s equipment. These ruins can form parts of the level (the Costal Thailand and Southern Mexico levels) or their design can be used for the entire level (such as the Mediterranean Sea, Jan Mayern Island and Arctic Sea levels). While these environments use a grand design and feature wide corridors and halls, the fact they are built from grey stone can seem cold and monotonous. Personally, while I liked the openness of the ruins, I did feel the representations of the underworld could be more creatively designed (there are some descriptions of the underworld myths of the cultures used in the game which are barely featured in the actual designs) and could be more differentiated, rather than just using different statues.
While I enjoyed the level designs, I felt they were undermined by the quality of graphics. The general quality of graphics was quite good and were similar to the graphics of the Tomb Raider: Legend and Tomb Raider Anniversary games. Unfortunately, the graphics also had a fuzzy quality which blurred the edges of shapes and muted colours, creating a slightly fog-like feel to the game and inhibiting the aesthetic quality of the environments.
Each level also features Lara wearing a different outfit. Lara explores the Mediterranean Sea in a wetsuit. Lara wears brown shorts and vest in the Coastal Thailand level. Lara dresses in a brown top and trousers in the Croft Manor, Andaman Sea and Southern Mexico levels. Lara wears a thick coat and trousers on Jan Mayern Island. Lara wears a wetsuit to explore the Arctic Sea. Completing the game unlocks a light blue swimsuit that the player can select for Lara to wear.
The controls for this game are similar to Tomb Raider: Legend, with Lara singing from horizontal poles, holding vertical poles, balancing and using the grapple. There are a number of additions to the controls. Lara can grab onto horizontal poles, climb on top, perch and jump off. Much of the game involves climbing across ledges, with Lara now being able to reach across small gaps to reach nearby ledges and climb certain walls. Lara can perform a chimney jump. Jumping and hanging onto a wall, she can then jump and hang onto the opposite wall and repeat this to climb up. The game also uses adrenaline. At certain points in the game, the game will become fuzzy and slow down, allowing the player extra time to find ways of dodging sudden obstacles or reaching safety. This is an interesting concept, but rarely occurs during the game and is underused (it is much more widely used in the improved versions of the game). The game also uses “portable objects”. These are large items that are too big to fit in Lara’s backpack, instead the player can pick them up, carry them around and use them at specific points in the level (such as to open doors). The game also removes the interactive animated sequences.
Vehicles are used less widely in this game. A motorbike is used to travel between the archaeological sites in the Southern Mexico level and the Jan Mayern Island level begins with a motorcycle ride through icy mountains. These parts of the levels are moderately enjoyable, with a few jumps and avoiding cracks, but could be made a little more challenging. According to a guide for the game, originally the Jan Mayern Island and Arctic Sea levels were connected by a sheet of ice. The original idea was that the player would use a motorcycle to travel to these locations (adding extra gameplay and linking these two levels). This idea was removed after it was decided the area would be completely white and featureless, making it an annoying part of the game as the player could get lost easily.
The combat for this game is strange. The combat controls resemble the early Tomb Raider games, with the player firing multiple rounds at enemies, and removes the attacks she could perform in Tomb Raider: Legend. The health system has changed. Instead of using health packs, Lara’s health regenerates after a certain period of time and is shown by a small figure and bar which change from green to yellow to red to signify her loss of health. The weapons are strange. There are a range of weapons (pistols, sub-machine guns, shotgun and an assault rifle) which have unlimited ammunition. The player is also able to use limited numbers of grenades. During the game, the player is able to use Thor’s hammer (the Andaman Sea level seems to function as a an area for the player to test this new weapon), a powerful weapon that can be used as a close combat weapon or can fire lightening bolts to hit targets at a distance. This item seems to have a similar function as the sword in the previous game, an object which features heavily in the plot and forms a powerful weapon later.
This game continues the tradition of extra features. A number of secret items are hidden in each level and resemble small, green packages (these objects are the only items in the game, as there are no clips or health packs). The extra features in this game seems to consist of concept art, with an extra costume for completing the game. Completing the game unlocks the Treasure Hunter mode. This feature is designed to be used to collect treasures and allows the player to replay the levels, except they are completed so the player does not need to find keys or complete puzzles.
In conclusion, I felt this game (or this version of the game) is the weakest game of the Tomb Raider series and a disappointment for such a well-made trilogy of games. The story is quite good, with interesting developments and a good ending to the story of the trilogy, but it can seem slightly underdeveloped, with some levels not advancing the story much. The level designs are good, but the game is affected by low quality graphics. The game also presents with a much colder atmosphere than other games in the series. The controls allow extra actions, but the combat controls are much more limited. The game is too easy and feels like a cheaper version of a superior game.