Tomb Raider Underworld (360)

Tomb Raider Legend? Lovely. Tomb Raider Anniversary? Excellent. Tomb Raider Underworld? Meh.

This, which happened about 10 minutes in, shows the quality of the game. It’s right up there with Angel of Darkness:

I’m now up to the bit where you get on the boat after the first “tomb”. I’m not really enjoying it.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (360): COMPLETED!

I was one of the lucky ones to get a free code for this, since The Times cocked up and allowed their “subscriber only” offer to be accessible to all and sundry. I’d just played the demo too, and was about to buy it anyway when I realised I had enough other games to be getting on with so would wait for a price drop. Ten minutes later – free code!

You’ll be noticing that there’s no “Tomb Raider” in the title. There are, however, tombs (of a sort) to traverse, and indeed “raid”, but the developers have chosen to distance this a bit from those platforming, 3rd person puzzle shooting games, instead turning this into a sort of grown-up Lego Indiana Jones crossed with the likes of Geometry Wars. No, stay with me on this…

You see, it’s a simplified Tomb Raider, in terms of types, quantity and complexity of puzzles. Puzzles much like those in the Lego games. There are also some objects that can only be destroyed or activated with certain weapons – like in the Lego games. And it’s all viewed from a sort of isometric angle, not entirely unlike the Lego games. Then there’s the combat, which is pretty standard twin-stickery, like Geometry Wars (and 446512 other games). See? That wasn’t so hard to imagine, was it?

But is it any good? Let me put it this way – I got it on Friday, completed it on Sunday, and it was the only game I played (or even wanted to play). So yes, it’s good. It’s short (although there are more episodes planned as DLC), at around 4-5 hours, and pretty easy, but it was great fun and it surprised me how well a Tomb Raider game could work when not actually presented like a Tomb Raider game.

The only real disappointments were that the end boss was far too easy, and some of the game is repetitive. It also suffers a bit from a cliché of how to make games harder later on: simply have more baddies.

Tomb Raider Underground Demo (360)

I thought Tomb Raider Legend looked impressive, but this is head and shoulders above it. More than that even. It looks amazing. And it plays really well too. It’s fluid, varied, well animated, and gorgeous – and that’s just completing the demo.

I’d be very likely to buy it, but I can wait. The last two Tomb Raider games I’ve bought were at bargain prices only a few months after release, so I fully expect this to do the same.

Tomb Raider Anniversary (360): COMPLETED!

And it’s about time! I’ve not completed anything in aaaaages.

As usual, I won’t spoil the last few bits of the game. I will say, however, there’s lots of precision jumping, at speed, requiring lightning reactions. And lots of giant bat things that shoot fireballs.

And lava. Lots of lava.

But the end boss was pretty easy, and I beat it on my first attempt (although it did take ages). I didn’t get the achievement for doing it without dying though, so I don’t know what happened there. Anyway, the game is complete, on Hard Mode. It’s the first game in years I’ve done on Hard Mode, probably the only game ever I’ve started on Hard and completed (rather than completing it on an easier mode and replaying it on Hard). It wasn’t especially hard though, I don’t think. Easy must be a complete walkover.

So the verdict: Not as good as Legend, better than I expected, too many collect-all-these bits, but generally pretty great.

Tomb Raider Anniversary (360)

I completed the two (similar) puzzles to gain the keys to get into the Sphinx. I think I chose the easier of the two puzzles last (unintentionally), making the first one I attempted harder than I expect it would have been had I done them the other way round.

Once in the Sphinx, there was a puzzle with lowering a raising water, and then a long corridor leading to a room with loads of baddies. It took me a fair few tries to beat them, but finally did and picked up the final bit of the Scion. Only to have Natla come and nick all the bits. Tch.

Anyway, I found myself on an island, and spent ages figuring how to progress from the warehouse you there (sans guns – which made the rats annoying), eventually making it through and past a lava section, to find two of Natla’s goons. With them dealt with, I could open up a huge metal pyramid. Onward!

Tomb Raider Anniversary (360)

Didn’t play for too long today, just long enough to finish off the bit I was on (all the bridges are sorted now) and end up in a room with a huuuuuuge Sphinx. I’m guessing I have to get inside it or something, and there’s two keys needed to do so.

I have to say, I’m getting a little fed up with “you need to solve X puzzles to get keys to progress” bits in the game. I know they’re varied, but still…

Tomb Raider Anniversary (360)

I hate spinny blades, and I hate crushy doors. So imagine my under-enthusiastic response to the bit in the game I did today. Jumping from pillar to pillar, avoiding crushy doors and spinny blades. Joy!

Had loads of Anubiseseseses to kill as well. I do wonder if “hard mode” means “kill three baddies instead of two”. Individual baddies are still easy to wipe out, and jumps can’t really be made any harder than not-quite-impossible, so it isn’t that. And I get so many health packs I’m only ever bolstering my inventory and rarely actually using them, so that isn’t it either. Perhaps it’s the amount of damage I take? A swipe from a puma drops my health by more than a third.

Whatever it is, I’m not finding the actual game too taxing. Yet.

Tomb Raider Anniversary (360)

Completed all of the first bit of Egypt (up until the first “suggested” save point), and haven’t really had any problems yet. The pumas are quite difficult to kill (if they’re in packs, anyway), and the jumping and climbing here seems to require speed and timing more than anywhere else previously.

I’m now in a large room with a big obelisk in the middle, and four bridges leading to it – only one of which actually reaches, currently.

Tomb Raider Anniversary (360)

Although it was large in size, the room I ended up in on my last play was actually pretty easy with simple puzzles. Well, one puzzle. After that, I was through to a submerged area, and finally to the next bit of the Scion.

And a boss. Or rather, two bosses. Two centaurs, in fact. It took me ages to figure out how to kill them (you need to pull off their shields with your grapple), and I died a lot working it out. Once I had it worked out, however, they were easy.

Then it was off to Egypt. Not done much here yet, apart from kill a couple of Anubiseseses’s’s, and opened the door to another area.

Tomb Raider Anniversary (360)

I’m still in Greece, but only because everything seems to take ages to do there. I’ve done the puzzles associated with Midas, a couple of which made me scratch my head a bit, swum through what appears to be some flooded sewers, and ended up in a huge room with crocodiles in it.

I’ve killed them, but there’s a load of puzzley stuff to do now.

Tomb Raider Anniversary (360)

Played this quite a lot today, and my 360 didn’t crash at all. Which is most odd. The game did glitch once though – I fell down a hole, but Lara’s death scream never happened, the screen went black, and I could still shoot and bring up the inventory, but not do anything. Very strange.

As for how I did today, I killed the T-Rex (without dying, so got an achievement for that!), completed Peru, and have just reached Midas in Greece. I remembered the four gods bit of Greece and the final few bits of Peru from the original game, but everything is the same… only different.

Oh, and I’m playing on Hard for no reason other than I thought I’d give it a go. So far, I’ve not had much difficulty in terms of killing things, so I’m not sure how hard easier modes would be.

Tomb Raider Anniversary (360)

It’s odd, but I seem to start new games on Sunday evenings more often than at any other time. So today, in this strange tradition, I started Tomb Raider Anniversary.

It has been a long time since I played the Saturn original, but it certainly is different. Of course, it has the Tomb Raider Legend engine behind it now, and the graphics are much improved, but so far it isn’t really all that familar. The grid-based areas are much less grid-based, and the initial snowy area seemed awfully short, but it could just be my mind playing tricks.

It’s good though. Not as good as Legend, but I’m enjoying it. I’ve managed to get about an hour in so far, past the first water puzzle and the giant door with two weights.

Tomb Raider: Legend (360): COMPLETED!

Well. Some people did say that it sort of fizzles out at the end, and, well, it pretty much does. The England level is pretty huge (with a puzzle that had me scratching for ages, and a huge boss fight), but Nepal that followed it was really very short, and incredibly easy. The final level was even shorter, and the end boss was the easiest of all the bosses in the game, which was a shame.

But anyway. Overall, I enjoyed the game, it’s just at less then 9 hours play, it seemed somewhat short. There are the time trials (I tried the first one, and was too slow) and hard mode, as well as all the rewards, but I’m not sure I can be bothered with them. I’d have preferred another couple of levels.

Tomb Raider: Legend (360)

Finished up Ghana, where there was another boss battle, and then went over to Kajekstan (or however you spell it). No tomb there, either, just a Soviet research base, a train I had to chase on a motorbike, and some wantering through a giant Tesla device thingie.

Found Amanda, who is now baaaaad, and she unleashed another boss at me, which I had a job figuring out how to defeat. Turns out you don’t, as such. Anyway.

Then it was off to Cornwall to what started off as an abandoned King Arthur Museum, and has now become and actual tomb. With fire and stuff. Hmm.

Saved there, and decided to try and open up some of the Croft Mansion. I picked up about 15 “awards” there in total (mostly all bronze) and collected my grappler, guns, and personal light source thing.

Tomb Raider: Legend (360)

Finished off Peru, and then waded through Japan (yes, there wasn’t much in the way of Tombs to Raid) and killed my first “boss”.

Then it was off to Ghana, where I’ve managed to get inside another tomb, and start up some traps. Which doesn’t sound like such a clever idea…