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Tomb Raider Underworld Preview
publisher: Eidos Interactive
developer: Crystal Dynamics
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Nov 18, 08 (released)
|» All About Tomb Raider Underworld on ActionTrip|
Tomb Raider Underworld, the much talked about new installment in the popular Tomb Raider series, is finally coming together. Eidos Interactive and Crystal Dynamics did a pretty decent job of enlivening the franchise after Core Design's disastrous TR: The Angel of Darkness. After breathing life back into Lara's character with Tomb Raider: Legend, Crystal Dynamics delivered a fine recap of the whole TR series and offered a few cool new elements in Tomb Raider: Anniversary. It was only a matter of time before Eidos would green light a brand new escapade of the world's sexiest archeologist.
In her latest adventures, Lara embarks upon the secrets of the ancient Mayan civilization, eventually making her way into the underworld, known as Xibalba. Still in its early stages, TR Underworld is barely just beginning to take shape, hence neither Eidos nor Crystal have revealed details on the game's narrative. The story in Legend was well-written and it kept players going throughout the entire game. It was pointed out that the writers will continue to build upon this type of story-telling. If you recall, Legend featured a much darker outline of Lara's character, when compared to earlier games, so I guess they mean to continue down that particular road.
Another priority is to focus on better overall gameplay mechanics. Lara's vast range of familiar moves and attacks sees a welcomed return. So, that means all the somersaulting, shimmying, jumping, swinging, dual-wielding and similar traits are back once again. More than that, you can expect a number of added tweaks to the combat system that will help Lara get the better of her many foes. She'll be able to use her dual-pistols to take out two separate targets at once and alternatively fire both weapons at a single target. The grappling hook is also back to ease your movement through the surroundings. To spruce things up, combat is going to feature a full set of acrobatic moves, on top of kicks, punches and other cool improvements to allow for more complex close combat. Objects in the environment, such as poles, may be picked up and used as handy melee weapons.
To overcome obstacles along the way, or to reach a particular location, again, Lara may rely on the surroundings. Apart from using poles as weapons she may plant them onto a specific surface to make way towards inaccessible areas. Almost everything she did in the past, she does better this time around. So, when she's free-climbing (yes, she can free-climb now) across a certain surface, she uses one hand to clutch onto the surface, while using the other to fire a pistol. The free-climbing bit, mind you, is only possible in specific areas - preferably across moss-covered surfaces or surfaces with protruding rocks, etc.
Visually, the game sports a diversity of changes. Apart from being able to gaze at Lara's gorgeous new physique, players may notice other subtle enhancements. As in real life, most surfaces found in nature emit a faint, yet persistent, amount of light, so now you'll see Lara's body reflecting fine sources of light from nearby objects. For example, when she's standing near undergrowth, Lara's figure will reflect a subtle shade of green. Nothing much, but it gives the game that extra dose of realism. Everyone's favorite heroine also features improved facial expressions (he said 'facial' - Ed), so now you'll see her frown when, say, firing her pistols and smirking when she pulls off a successful shot. Lara's skin gets all dirty when she rolls across mud-covered ground (oh, yeah), but after being in the rain for a while, the grime washes away (oooh yeah).
Since we mentioned rain, further slight changes were made to make an impact on the game's physics. Rain dampens certain objects, therefore making it increasingly difficult for Lara to maintain balance as she walks across poles and such. She might easily lose her grip when shimmying across wet cliff edges.
Additionally, basic movement and animation of the main character have been perked up. In fact, according to Eidos, most of Lara's body animation is based on movement of a motion-captured Olympic gymnast - over 1000 physical animations are already prepared to be incorporated into the game. Obviously, with modifications like these, Crystal Dynamics hopes to create a new, more realistic look for the series.
More realistic, a wide variety of tweaks (AI, visuals, physics, etc.), aimed at better gameplay mechanics.
Some people are probably a tad fed up with the series after so many sequels.
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