Tomb Raider: Legend was a fantastic game that rejuvenated the tired looking Tomb Raider franchise. Last year Lara Croft fans were treated to the stellar Tomb Raider Anniversary, which was also a fantastic game, but ever since Tomb Raider: Legend fans have been waiting for a truly revolutionary Tomb Raider title designed for the current generation of consoles. Here it is, Tomb Raider: Underworld. We thought we'd take an early look at the game that could shape up to be Lara's best outing yet.
Crystal Dynamics isn't just happy to sit on its laurels and quite a few changes have been promised for Underworld. First off, the game world will be a little more interactive. For example, as Lara walks she will leave footprints in the mud, even the bodies of the enemies you kill will stay permanantly in the game world, in previous Tomb Raider titles, the bodies would disappear, this will no longer be a problem.
Lara seems to have gone to summer combat camp as well, as she has a few new moves. Players will now be able to dual target with their guns, there are other new moves that she can execute as well. Lara can rappel down surfaces as well as perform wall kicks. She can also shoot while on ledges and even sprint now. Lara can also use the environment around her to her advantage, so if there is an object sticking out in the environment then Lara can use it to clobber an enemy.
Lara's bike will also be back and will be a lot more important this time around. Rather than pop up randomly throughout the game to fill in a few driving levels the bike will be used to solve puzzles and to get Lara to her destination even quicker than sprinting will. The grappling hook has also been reworked so it can now push objects as well, which seems quite a bit more realistic.
Graphically Underworld should look even better than its predecessors. The game includes a brand new lighting model as well as a weather system which can change the dangers that Lara will face. For example, if she is climbing a ledge and it is a sunny day then she will have a tad more grip than if it's hammering down with rain. This all sounds rather fancy, but whether it's all talk remains to be seen. Even the animation has been improved in Underworld, which means Lara should move even more realistic than in Anniversary and Legend.
Even though Tomb Raider: Underworld is still months off release it is clear that Crystal Dynamics isn't just creating new levels and placing Lara in a new scenario and twiddling their thumbs. Not only have Lara's moves evolved but the whole Lara Croft universe seems to have been reworked to be a lot more interactive and a lot more realistic. The game's still a while off, but the early signs are good.