I missed out on the original Tomb Raider game in the 90s. I think I downloaded the demo and thought, “This isn’t Doom, or even remotely Doom-like” and then proceeded to erase it from my 450mb hard drive. It wasn’t until I played the franchise reboot Tomb Raider: Legend that I understood what all the hoopla was about. I had to set aside my blood-lust and come to grips with the fact that the game is primarily about platforming and puzzle solving.
Underworld continues that gameplay tradition by pitting Lara Croft against various ancient death machines that all seem to run on elaborate systems of gears and pulleys. You can climb, wall jump, balance on columns, swing from ropes, drag towering structures with your bare hands and numerous other ridiculous actions. This type of reality defying acrobatics is exactly the sort of thing that ruins CGI driven movies but make video games so awesome. You really get to feel like you have superhuman skill even though all you are doing is sinking back in your desk chair, twitching your mouse every few seconds and occasionally hitting the pause button so you can sip your Diet Dr. Pepper.
This game is a couple of years old and I was still blown away by how great the graphics look. I’d say that the jungle settings here look even better than that graphics whore Far Cry 2 ever did. Even more impressive than the visuals is the symphonic score that features tons epic choral arrangements that make “O’ Fortuna” seem like a tin pan alley ukulele number.