Tomb Raider Underworld Updated Hands-On

We saved Lara Croft from an unsettling turn of events in our latest hands-on with Eidos' upcoming archeological adventure.

Lara's come a long way since her inception in the original Tomb Raider. Crystal Dynamics proved there was life in the old girl yet after its impressive performances with Legend and Anniversary, but despite this, we approach every demo of the next iteration in the franchise, Tomb Raider Underworld, with trepidation due to some of the missteps made in the all-too-recent past. However, this game features an entirely new engine, a fully motion-captured Lara, and a number of intriguing new dynamics and mechanics.

We got to see a few of these in action during a brief hands-on with a new part of the game, which we were told takes place about an hour in. Warning: The demo that we played featured something of a plot twist that could be considered a spoiler due to the way it unfolds.

We found Lara on a cargo boat, faced with Jacqueline Natla, the main antagonist from the very first Tomb Raider game. Natla is sealed in a capsule that, after a bit of banter, is lifted through the roof and off into the sky by a waiting chopper. As the cutscene continues, a series of explosions rock the ship, and it becomes very clear that getting out is the only reasonable way of surviving. Running through the cramped hallways of the ship, we came up against one of Underworld's adrenalin moments, which replace the quick-time events that littered previous instalments of the franchise. Unlike in previous games, these don't involve pressing certain buttons as prompted onscreen to perform set actions, but simply involve a slowing down of time during some serious onscreen action. In this case, we needed to dive out of the way of a mass of collapsing wreckage as the entire room shifted around Lara.

An explosion somewhere else on board, in fact, made the situation a whole lot worse, and afterward the entire environment had been rotated 90 degrees, with the ship apparently sinking rapidly into the waves. This completely changed the approach to escape, with previously secure floor panels falling away, leaving us with a long climb up the corridor that we'd only recently been running down. The now-exposed under-floor piping proved an excellent place to try out Lara's new free-climbing ability. The right stick let her scramble across the wall, grabbing on to pipes, valves, and pretty much anything that stuck out enough to get a grip on, without the need for much jumping around.

With falling debris to dodge and an interesting three-dimensional path to traverse, the result was a compelling, if brief, game segment that suggests Crystal Dynamics is really trying to bring Lara back in some style.

We then moved to a later segment of the game to try out the combat in a zone that had a slightly richer selection of wildlife, and we were also pleasantly surprised. Fighting a selection of spiders as we scrambled through some very Indiana Jones-style puzzles in an underground temple chamber was exciting, and we found that the dual-pistol targeting worked very well indeed. Lara's new melee moves also looked good, though they didn't prove to be hugely effective against the larger, armoured, spider-like creatures that were attacking her. The same could not be said about the smaller spiders present in other parts of the level; they did not much care for a swift boot bringing squishy death from above.

A demo of the game featuring the first hour of gameplay has just hit Xbox Live, so you can now check out Tomb Raider Underworld for yourself. We'll keep you posted on any developments on the game as it nears release next month.

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52 comments
ShiroKitaHoshi
ShiroKitaHoshi

BEFORE buy ANY computer game...check this site first: http://www.reclaimyourgame.com/ Underworld is listed as having DRM. As to the extent - I'm not sure how extensive the DRM is. Protect yourself! Be well-informed before you buy! Don't be a victim of game crashing DRM!!

Hazzerz
Hazzerz

"I wonder if you realize that you dont HAVE to play mulitplayer modes in the games that have a multiplayer. stop whinning" Agreed. Idiots.

FomarThain
FomarThain

Eh, this little tid bit has some semi-major spoilers.... Need a little warning with that stuff. The bit about the cargo ship really is big... I didn't know she was in the game. Guess this goes to show why you should stay away from pre-release info on a game...

Citronc
Citronc

Devilzzz, I wonder if you realize that you dont HAVE to play mulitplayer modes in the games that have a multiplayer. stop whinning

sissy___
sissy___

Unfort OPS Australia may be right...played the 360 demo the other day...worst camera ever!..while the movement was not as fluid as Assasins (sp?) Creed...the camera was awful. Nothing like climbing when all you can see is the wall in front of your face...and where the hell is time rewind LOL.

cotterell55
cotterell55

I heard Offical PS mag Australia gave this a 5 out of 10!!! very worrying. Im still buying it of course but a 5 out of 10 is discomforting

Doolum
Doolum

something to look forward for

ScottRhom
ScottRhom

Just started the PC-Demo. The graphics look great and Lara looks Hotter than ever! I hope that there aren't too many High-Difficulty puzzles to solve. Either way, this will be fun...

DeViLzzz
DeViLzzz

That is a big step up from what they previously had ... the graphics and sound are very good but the negative is the controls are somewhat wanky as usual but I feel it plays better than past games. I like the idea of these games as they are thinking games and this style does not have to be limited to the Tomb Raider series. I look forward to more companies taking this approach with their games. It is also nice to see a game where there isn't multiplayer. It is very cool to enjoy a game without some idiotic chatter in the background on audio or in a text chat channel on screen. There is room for 1 player games still and I am sad to hear that some big name companies are going to stop producing these type of games. Uhmmm the thing is if you make a good game people will buy it no matter if there is multiplayer or not. I really look forward to this game ... really really ...

joel_chtri
joel_chtri

played tombraider 2, tombraider 3 n TR: anniversary. now no more tomb raider games(boring)

kitty
kitty moderator

I really can't wait for the release of this game, I've been a tomb raider fan since 1998. Btw for those you who haven't played the demo, I suggest that you do.

oblivionxrebx
oblivionxrebx

sounds interesting my gold mem expired. anyone know if it is out for silver membership yet? im talkin bout the demo

martianrobot
martianrobot

I just played the demo and thought it was fantastic. Looks like the best TR so far, and I thought Anniversary was great. Graphically speaking it is phenomenal, and Lara now has a more fluid grace about her. Just the opening of her standing on the boat as it bobbed up and down on the best looking sea I've ever seen in a game - I was gobsmacked, and, like Fallout 3, I'm just wondering how the hell the developers do it, how they push the hardware so hard to make games look and feel so good without any slowdown. Too many people take how a game looks for granted, or just expect it to look good - I grew up playing Pong, Pacman and Space Invaders, and seeing how far games have gone since then is astounding. Hell, comparing this to the first TR of 1996, it's incredible. There's so much detail in the textures and so many little nuances in the animation and movement that make it feel quite special. I'll calm down now, but obviously I am so looking forward to this, even though I'm completely hooked on Fallout 3 at the moment.

URSpaztic
URSpaztic

Hey coldheart, Ever think of that eidos would try to make more money!? Looks good.

splendormk7
splendormk7

TR: Underworld must be one of best of the series. it can't be as poor as TR:AfD. it's been years, but still needs several numbers of revisions. main theme is wonderful. i think including this part and the other parts which we'll see in the feature will be much cooler.. if they give underworld 9.0 it doesn't deserve. a game like, take it play, complete and drop it. actually it should be on top

Bahgahyahduh
Bahgahyahduh

you kno wats really sad, all u people who are bothered what coldheart said. who cares, go click on another page.

chilipepperman
chilipepperman

i played the demo of this game and i was utterly dissapointed. bad camera, horrible guns, and like no checkpoints. the graphics looked good, but this game felt so lame. i was glad when the demo ended. i dont think im gonna play this when it comes out unless its really good

sw_and_wet
sw_and_wet

@coldheart99 why are you sad man? it's not like it's cancelled for PS or anything, besides, tomb raider series have release on multi-platform all along....it's not a recent thing....it was also on XBOX... what are you talking about? stealing???...... again it's still on PS2, PS3 and other portable console.....that's just friendly sharing not stealing.... if you seriously think MS is stealing, and you just don't want other players with a XBOX or PC to play the game, like Mr_Kralc said, you are just selfish.... Plus, now PS3 also get bioshock, it WAS exclusive for XBOX360 years ago, I don't see people are sad because of this.

Temtamperu
Temtamperu

Ive just completed the Demo, the graphics are beautiful, the gameplay is ok. I got a bit peeved when spiders spawned right in front of me but this may be ironed out. The camera as always lets lara croft down, and I had to restart some of the puzzles due to this, after the sixth time falling because of a stuck camera I could see that being very tedious.

Oakals
Oakals

@Mr_Kralc I agree with you, multiplatform is a good thing, anyone should have the right to enjoy a game no matter what console they own (Should people with a Toshiba TV be allowed less TV stations that someone with a JCV TV? Makes no sence). What really gets my back up though is when a devleoper releases a game multiplatform and then shuns half their good honest customers by releasing exclusive content via only one platform. It's blatent money grabbing from the console makers and a kick in the teeth to anyone who bought the game on a different platform. (Rant over)

redline09
redline09

(i played the demo) tomb raider really needs to drop its childish aspects, i mean the game looks really good so does lara.. but the wepons are really poor so is the fighting. i like tomb raider but i think it needs to grow up.

cas11123
cas11123

@coldheart99 I wouldn't really call it stealing since Tomb Raider has been on the PC since the beginning of the series, not to mention the fact that it has always been a multi-console game. However, if you want to think of it like that then the Playstation stole Tomb Raider from Sega Saturn. Damn them for trying to expand their player base and make more money! No company should do that!

Mr_Kralc
Mr_Kralc

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

boba_fett22
boba_fett22

lets hope this game will be as good as other games released in this crazy time of the year for gaming... I really hope so... 8.5 or more will only get me getting this game!

coldheart99
coldheart99

It's sad that Microsoft is trying to steal tomb raider away from Playstation. Microsoft approached edios with exclusive levels and outfits. I'm sad.

zeonfollower
zeonfollower

Lara in the new 3D generation? Sexayy....

bodylotion
bodylotion

Always nice another Tomb Raider game

cjohnson007
cjohnson007

I played the demo. Though its not an hour long i will say Lara is lookin good. There are a few Camera problems that remind me of past tomb raider games. But i still think it'll be a pretty good game. Im predicting an 8.5 from gamespot

kami123000
kami123000

when does ps3 get the demo??? or if we ever get it at all??? why is sony becoming so lame.

east_county
east_county

The demo rocked. It totally had the old school Tomb Raider feel. I loved it. The jungle actually made you feel like you were in a jungle and the temples were beautiful. Hopefully the complete game will be as good.

G6games
G6games

not again xbox gets everthing everthing and to think i spent extra to get a ps3 cause i think it would be better. tombraider demo does look good but to bad ps3 owners can't play it

Hoops0123
Hoops0123

Played the demo and i loved it. i havent been a Tomb Raider fan for long but the last games and this demo have made me rethink that and try exploring. I was super impressed with the demo and i cant wait to play the retail verson.

itwiz90
itwiz90

I am loving this, I can't wait until it is released. 8)

Pitcher-T
Pitcher-T

OPM gave it 8/10 saying the AI was terrible and the gun fights weren't interesting enough. Why are all game developers this gen concentrating so much on graphics and forgetting about AI? My girlfriend can programme AI better than some of this gens games, ffs! lol

Molezzi
Molezzi

oooo ooooo oooooo OOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO i cant wait! :-) Looking gr8 so far!

Strigidae
Strigidae

Man this game is causing me to salvate. Good timing though since it will be close to when most of us are getting paid.

Olaoye_tw
Olaoye_tw

Already played the demo, fantastic game!

Pete5506
Pete5506

I didnt care much for the demo

mutley89
mutley89

First hour of gameplay?? am I reading that right? you get an hour of the game?? lol

slayersdeath200
slayersdeath200

the demo was actually alright but still debating buying it way to many games that have come out and need to choose which games to get first lol

No_SuRReNDeR
No_SuRReNDeR

"@_@ so many games, so little money...." BluNarciss-- I think you hit the nail on right on the head...between this Fallout 3 Fable 2 Resistance 2 Far cry 2...omg the list go on and on .......wait a minute...there ALL sequels...aghhhhh nope scratch that Left 4 Dead....looks bomb diggity too.

dskingston
dskingston

I've never been a big fan but my girlfriend will be happy!

Dualmask
Dualmask

annegab, a demo will probably come to PSN later this week. PSN tends to update on Thursdays, I believe. I can't wait until it comes out...I was a TR fan for parts 1-3, took a break and then came back for Legend and Anniversary, and I'm glad Lara's back in fine form.

itwiz90
itwiz90

I love Tomb Raider, even though ther were may be 2 games of the series I would question. I will get Underworld the first day it is released. I believe it is going to be a sleeper. 8)

ohsudong
ohsudong

Shouldn't a game series have to go on some kind of hiatus before the next installment is hailed as a comeback? I have tried to play a couple of Tomb Raider games in the past, but the controls always seemed too clunky to me, so I gave up before finishing.

BluNarciss
BluNarciss

@_@ so many games, so little money....

muppen
muppen

Tomb Raider Underworld will be awesome