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August 20 2008
Tomb Raider: Underworld - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
5/12/2008AtariEidosCrystal Dynamics
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
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Lara Croft in Tomb Raider Underworld.
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Scooba diving in the Mediterranean.

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Lara jumps to the pillar.
Tomb Raider is a series that gamers loved, then started to despise with continually decreasing quality in the games with series creators Core Design. A couple of years ago - after the abysmal Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness - publishers Eidos took away their development duties and handed them to Crystal Dynamics. It was a masterstroke. Their first release Tomb Raider: Legend was a massive improvement while the second game, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, was a superb remake of the original title. Now, with this third game almost upon us expectations are running very high for Tomb Raider: Underworld to deliver the goods.

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Jungles look pretty lush...
For generations, stories have been told of the fearsome weapon of Thor, the Norse god of thunder. Legend holds that Thor's hammer had the power to smash mountains into valleys and to destroy even the gods. For more than a thousand years it has existed only as a myth... until now.

In an ancient ruin on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea, Lara Croft uncovers proof of the Norse underworld and the mythical hammer. As she attempts to unravel the secrets behind these myths, Lara’s perilous journey leads her toward a forgotten power that, if unleashed, could lay waste to all civilization.

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Lara is hanging around some ruins.
One thing that the developers have been keen to stress about this release is that they are taking Lara back to the exploration roots of ancient ruins. Forget about past games where much of the game too place in cities, that won't be happening here. The range of locations is impressive as Lara explores the coast of Thailand, frozen islands of the Arctic Sea, the jungles of Mexico, and the seabed of the Mediterranean Sea.

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Graphically Underworld looks stunning...
Each of the levels will be littered with multi-stage puzzles and, as expected, Lara has the range of skills to solve these puzzles. As well as an expanded range of gadgets including an Active Sonar Map which sends out an active sonar ping to create a 3D map of her environment including the ability to find hidden items and locations. Lara can climb up walls, swim in water, rider around on an all-terrain motorbike, and run around the levels performing all manner of acrobatic moves. In terms of combat Lara can now pacify or kill enemies, target multiple enemies at once with a new dual-target system and shoot with one hand while hanging onto ledges with the other.

Graphically this game looks superb, stunning even. Now we'll admit we haven't seen this game first hand in action ourselves but the screenshots and video footage we've seen is mighty impressive.

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Taking out enemies in Tomb Raider: Underworld.
Yet again Lara Croft will be voiced by English actress Keeley Hawes. While that name may not be too familiar to many of you she did provide the voice of Lara in the two previous titles in the series (Tomb Raider: Anniversary and Tomb Raider: Legend). Troels Brun Folmann has also returned to the series to compose the music after working on the two previous games as well.

Of all the games that could surprise us this year it is Tomb Raider Underworld. Sure, the previous titles developed by Crystal Dynamics were impressive and certainly moved the series in the right direction, but they now have the opportunity here to bring Lara back to the top tier of gaming. We'll find out if they have succeeded in early December.