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Thursday | December 8, 2016
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Tomb Raider Underworld: Beneath The Ashes

Tomb Raider Underworld: Beneath The Ashes

 

Lara Croft’s latest adventure Underworld has been a big seller for Eidos Interactive and developer Crystal Dynamics have been keen to expand on the original storyline by adding a expansion pack entitled Beneath The Ashes.

Lara is taken back to her father’s secret study underneath the ruins of her manor and while searching through his papers and records she finds a file which details an artifact of incredible power. This item not only grants its owner the ability to create thralls (undead creatures) but also to control them with a single command. Obviously Lara being a hardened adventurer is already intrigued with the possibilities, however there is one caveat – the command word for control is not mentioned in her fathers literature. With only the directions available to her she sets off further into the Manor’s catacombs on her hunt for the magical artifact.

This adventure through the depths of the Manor takes Lara Croft via caverns as well as a massive ancient dungeon. On her way she has to solve a few puzzles and destroy enemies as she gets further along the path. Surprisingly, unlike most of the previous outings there is very little emphasis on combat and while you do have to shoot spiders and bats the main focus is clearly on exploration and riddle solving. This time around there is quite a lot of time spent with the grappling hook to scale walls and leap from one area to the next. There are literally a couple of map areas which rely solely on the use of timing jumps and quick rappelling skills to progress. I quite enjoyed Underworld but I found this expansion pack rather dull due to the balancing decisions (lack of combat) by Crystal Dynamics.

While the focus of the storyline could have expanded the Underworld concept it ends up a slightly shallow and shortlived escapade through dungeons and rooms and it is entirely underlined in your father’s diary. This leads me to the main problem with this game, it is just too easy because even if you omit looking at the diary entries, the puzzles and layouts are all very easy to access and complete. If you have any Tomb Raider time at all under your belt then the whole adventure will prove rather bland and unchallenging.

The game is around a gigabyte of download data and it took me just over 2 hours to complete. While the asking price of 800 points ($10) isn’t massive I am not sure it is presenting a great deal of value to the Xbox Live gamers who already own Underworld. Certainly if you classify yourself as a Tomb Raider fanatic then there will be some reward from the game but overall I was greatly disappointed with the duration of game play time.

 

This leads me onto some questionable decisions by the game makers. There are new outfits to get, such as a bikini which Lara can use on the whole mission if she wishes (sighs) which leads me to believe that some of the target demographic are being fleeced a little in order to sell copies. Many of you may remember the Nude Raider patches which proved very popular in the past, some of her additional outfits in Beneath The Ashes are merely a notch above this. Game point hogs will be happy to hear however that there are a total of 125 achievement points to be earned. I personally have no interest in achievement points but I am aware a portion of the Xbox fanbase find this important.

The ending also bears mention because it is such an anti climatic finish to the expansion pack that I left with a sour taste in my mouth, it was clearly rushed to get out the door for sales.

So all in all, while $10 is not a lot of money in today’s climate there are some other really good value games on the Xbox live store which bear serious consideration before this.

Tomb Raider Underworld: Beneath the Ashes is an expansion pack that is too shortlived to prove good value for money. It is commendable that Eidos are supporting their games with downloadable content in this way but I can’t help but feel this was rushed and is slightly half hearted especially when compared to the excellent GTA4 offered released recently. There is next to no replay value and for experienced Tomb Raider players it is exceptionally easy. Buy with caution.

 

Gameplay
65

Nothing new and very little to excite.
Graphics
85
The engine is nice and well presented but its exactly the same as Underworld.
Sound
75
Nice environmental effects but thats really all there is.
Value
40
2 hours of gameplay time, nothing else. $5 per hour basically.
Overall
60

One for die hard Tomb Raider fanatics


About Author

Stuart Davidson

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