You guys, I just decided what I want to be when I grow up. No, not a giraffe (although that would be super sweet too!) But no, after playing through the first three levels of Tomb Raider: Underworld, I totally want to be an archeologist! I mean, seriously, you guys, did you know that archeologists get to carry around guns? It’s true. There was a part where I pulled out my two gats and shot a shark in the face, UNDERWATER (!) I KNOW, RIGHT? Then I was whisked away to some other exotic locale, where I proceeded to FUCK UP some dead guy’s ancient burial place. I mean, seriously, there was a part there where I took out my shotgun and just blasted into the wall for like five minutes. It was awesome. Plus, if you break open these priceless vases that are scattered around, you can pull out these little artifacts, put them in your backpack, and I don’t know, get some gamerscore or something. IT’S FUCKIN’ MY NEW CAREER, DUDE.
Wait, let me start over. What I meant to say was: I played some Tomb Raider: Underworld, and I did not have a good time. But hold on, I liked Tomb Raider when I was 14, right? Well, it turns out that the reasons I liked Tomb Raider when I was 14, they don’t really transfer over to me liking Tomb Raider now. Part of that has to do with just how far we’ve come in gaming, that the same gameplay mechanics that used to wow us, now they just barely get us by.
Part of it has to do with boobs.
Despite my waning interest in the series, I did pick up Tomb Raider: Legend for the 360 about a year ago, and had a blast with it. True, I only paid $9, so I’m sure that had something to do with it, but I still really enjoyed myself, and I can even see myself playing through it again to find all of the collectibles.
So, in the spirit of that $9 good time, two weeks ago my girlfriend was out of town, and I thought, what a great opportunity to have a torrid affair with one Lara Croft. So I put it at the top of my queue on Gamefly, waited patiently by the mailbox, and excitedly tossed it into the xbox upon its arrival, expecting that Lara and I would have a fun little afternoon, just the two of us.
Lara and I did not have a fun little afternoon, just the two of us.
Which is unfortunate, because the game starts with a surprising, badass explosion, where your menu screen becomes an AWESOME SCREEN, then it hits you with some cool running and jumping out of the ruins of said explosion, and follows it up with an exciting cut-scene. Then well, it flashes back, and there’s like three hours of aimlessly being confused, swimming around on the bottom of the ocean with horrible underwater controls, and shooting sharks. When you finally, clumsily beat that, if you’re lucky, you might shoot a tiger.
The rhythm of the first three levels went something like this list, presented to you in 10 easy parts:
2. Still bored.
3. Oh, this puzzle looks cool.
4. One frustrated hour of trying to figure out the puzzle.
5. Wait, what, you can–YOU CAN THROW THE BLOCKS?!
6. Solve stupid puzzle.
7. Kill some guys.
8. Become super excited at the idea that the game might get fun.
9. Excitement withers away as you have to backtrack through the area you just navigated.
10. You stop playing, and the game fails to autosave, and you lose the last hour of gameplay.
Seriously, I stopped playing, and the game’s autosave didn’t autosave. After the girlfriend returned from her trip, and I thought I’d give it one more go, I turned it on and I was at the beginning of the level, the statue hadn’t moved it’s arm yet, lasers weren’t shooting into ancient diamonds to open stupid doors or whatever, and I was NOT going to do all of that over again.
(And I know what you’re saying, “why didn’t I just save it by hand?” WELL IT HAS AN AUTOSAVE FEATURE, AND I MADE THE MISTAKE OF TRUSTING IT. I went through like 7 checkpoints, and it didn’t save once. If I had died, I would have restarted somewhere right where I was. But god forbid I take a break to GO TO SLEEP, and I lose an hour of gameplay. UN-FUCKING-ACCEPTABLE.)
To the game’s credit, it is really pretty. Not in a way where the graphics are comparable to the best of this generation, but in the way where you’ve never played a Tomb Raider game that looked this pretty. And you know, that’s strangely enough. And there’s the chance, I mean, the plot makes it look like you might get Thor’s hammer later on, and that could be cool, right? I mean, imagine hitting the wall of a tomb WITH THAT, right?
So, in conclusion, Tomb Raider: Underworld might get super awesome after level 3, but, unless I find it for $9 in a year or two when I no longer care about replaying through the level I lost due to faulty auto-save, I will never know. Also, if you’re looking for a copy, I just sent one back to Gamefly.