Tomb Raider: Underworld – First Impressions (Updated)
This was my first ever Tomb Raider game. I kept hearing great things about it, so I decided to rent the game when I saw it in the movie store. This game starts off with a story of how Lara’s mother was lost, thought she was dead, and now is possibly alive. The controls are very easy to get use to, and they are very accurate. Also, they did a good job of not running motion control into the ground. You point your grappling hook and guns with the Wii Remote, and you pull a couple levers with both the nunchuck and remote together. I’d say it’s similar to Metroid Prime 3 in it’s use of the controllers. The voice acting also isn’t too bad. The game looks pretty good for a 3rd-party Wii title. I especially liked the scuba-diving parts. The water looked really good. I will say it does not look as good as the XBox 360 version, but that’s a given. However, I was very unhappy to see that the level layout is also different between the two versions. As I got stuck on the “Kracken level,” I searched to find some help videos online. When I began watching the 360 version, I was left going, “Where in the world is that?” After a while, I learned to clarify my searches by placing “Wii” to differentiate. Ok, on to gameplay. Well, let me tell you one thing. If you aren’t used to puzzle-adventure games, you’re going to need some patience. It had been a while since I’d played a game like this, so I had to be very patient and observant…looking for clues on how to solve the next puzzle. Here’s the deal, though. I finally got past the Kracken, only to get a bit stuck in the next room. Right as soon as I begin to figure it out, my Wii freezes on me, piping out a high squealing noise, and I lose all my progress in the game (nope, hadn’t saved). Apparently, those “checkpoints” aren’t automatic save points, which would have been an EXCELLENT addition to the game. Now, I’m not sure if I want to even go back and do it again.
Overall, here’s my impressions: The game is great, and very well done. The graphics are good for a Wii title, stretching the system’s capabilities a bit more than most 3rd-party titles. However, because I was out of practice and it took a while to get through what I did, I’m not sure I want to go back and do it all again just yet. I don’t think that’s a knock on re-play value. I just think I’m too frustrated to give it another go right now. I’d definitely recommend you check it out, especially if you are looking for a puzzle-adventure-exploration type of game. If you’re not sure, give it a rent. It’s definitely worth that.
UPDATE (11/26/08 1am): I just went back and did everything again in about 20 minutes (maybe even less). I will admit I’m having a lot more fun this time around. Also, I realized that the Wii graphics look even better when you don’t crank up the brightness and contrast (like I did the first time).
UPDATE (11/26/08 11:30am): I definitely stayed up too late playing last night. I totally got sucked in after I started replaying. I went ahead and finished the Mediterranean Sea level (first area of the game), which was really cool in the end, especially the parts where time slows down and you have to react quickly to escape danger (kinda like the Matrix…sorta). After escaping, I had to take over a boat and get back what they stole from me. Here’s where I finally had some combat. The shooting was spot on. Your enemies have a read circle where to shoot them (after you lock on). This was nice, as it only took 2 shots to kill, but I somewhat feel they were catering to novices with this addition. I did enjoy ducking behind obstacles and hiding. The control never gave me problems. When I finally decided to go to bed, I had just reached Coastal Thailand (the 2nd area of the game).
UPDATE (11/29/08 1:15am): I just returned the game a few hours ago. I told my roommate earlier that I was just going to play for about an hour and then take it back. Five or six hours later, I’m finishing Croft Manor and starting Southern Mexico (5th area of the game). I’m addicted, and loving every minute of this game. I thought about buying it, but then I thought that it’d probably only take me one more rental to beat it, which would cost a lot less money, especially if I rent it on a Tuesday ($2). I will say that I’m slightly upset when I went to look for help online (when I got stuck). To start with, there are hardly any Wii help sites out there for this game. Secondly, when I started to read the ones for 360, I realized that they’ve taken several things out of the Wii version. For instance, I never saw a shark in the water, I never saw a bat in a cave, and I never had to kill any spiders. I think that’s stupid. Not that those would make the game that much more difficult, but if that was their plan, then they should have had difficulty settings. Another comment about the graphics… There are some levels that look amazing for the Wii. There are parts of Southern Mexico that look awesome, but the problem is that you’re only in that section for a brief time. So, when you get there, be sure to enjoy it while you can. Walk around and enjoy the scenery. As a final note, I want to recommend this game. If you have multiple consoles, you may want to go the route of the 360 because it will look prettier. But if you are like me, and only have a Wii, you will not be disappointed. It looks good. The controls are spot on. And it is a lot of fun, even addicting. It definitely kept me going a lot longer than I thought it would. I’m over halfway done with a game I wasn’t even sure I would enjoy. It’s enough to make me a Tomb Raider fan, and now I want to play some more.
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