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Tomb Raider: Underworld

A first look at Lara's latest artefact-pillaging adventure

So the recently released teaser trailer for Underworld appears to show Lara blowing her mansion apart. Why? Dunno. Apparently there's some hidden meaning behind it all but the producers aren't letting on. Rising damp problem, perhaps?

Anyway, it's a curious way to kick off her latest adventure, a game that aims to blend the action-heavy antics of Legend with the more exploration-focused Anniversary.

Although the 360 and PS3 versions of the game have been doing the rounds for ages, this is the first time the Wii version has been let out of the studio. We were privy to a walkthrough of a level set in Mexico, and while the version was very early - pre-alpha, technical term fans - it looks promising.


There's no revolution or reworking of the series here, mind. It's more a case of Crystal Dynamics building on the good work laid down in its previous two efforts while refining the key elements of movement, combat and puzzle-solving. Happily, the scale is as epic as it has ever been.

Heidi hi
Motion-capture has been used for the first time in a Tomb Raider game. Olympic gymnast and Hollywood stuntwoman Heidi Moneymaker has provided the moves, and these have been mixed with animations to make for the most fluid Lara movement yet. When you're not on foot, your chunky motorbike will go anywhere now, instead of just down an on-rails path, and you can shoot 'n' ride too.

On the combat front, the twin pistols will now target independently if there are two enemies about, while sticky grenades make a debut. Lara also automatically draws her weapons when you point the remote at the screen and there's danger afoot. Oh, and if you've always felt bad about murderising endangered species, you can now shoot tigers with a tranquiliser dart instead of an Uzi.

On first inspection this looks to be a solid if overly familiar romp. The motion controls look like they've been better implemented this time, which is the most important thing for the Wii version. So welcome back, Crofty, even if you are a house-destroying nutter.