Turning a pile of shame into a pile of victory!
Tomb Raider: Underworld
Getting it working
Recent enough that it installed like a dream.
Pretty, but derp.
This was a game of great promise, but instead of excellence, it achieved mere goodness.
The soundtrack was unobjectionable, but aside from the swelling menu music we've all come to know and love from the series, it didn't stand out as excellent at any point. The graphics were absolutely lovely, and the environments themselves felt very engaging. I felt there was good setting and game-play variety, from claustrophobic burning corridors to expansive lonely ocean floors. On the whole I didn't have much problem working out which ledges were grabbable, my biggest impediment in that department was I kept forgetting about the chimney jump, and thus couldn't continue at several points until I got through my derp.
And there was derp a'plenty.
Lara has always plunged hilariously to her death when I'm in the driver's seat, but this time around I found her ragdolling more hilarious than in previous games. I think the shoehorned-in character development (and slightly noticeable age lines on the otherwise perky Lara) actually made her feel more like a caricature than ever. But I've never played the Tomb Raider games for the plot, but for the ledge-grabbing fun.
As always, I felt the combat was a little clunky, but that was probably an artifact of the control I'm used to from PC first person shooters. Once you get Thor's hammer, combat becomes an hilarious unchallenging farce, where previously tough enemies are sent flying in all manner of comical flailing. The level design was generally solid, except for one or two areas (one ocean, one involving giant swinging hammer pendulums) where there simply weren't enough cues to navigate by. I found myself spending far too long trying to work out where I had come from, where I was supposed to go, and orienting which way was forward at these times. They stood out all the more as the rest of the level design was pretty intuitive.
During the final half an hour or so of gameplay, the best and worst points of the game just got better and worse. The levels became all the more beautiful, the combat all the more uninspiring, and just when things were feeling epic it dumped you into a cutscene before the credits rolled.
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