news\ Sep 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Lara Croft doesnt fair too well in her first DLC outing exclusive to the Xbox 360

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lara Croft doesn’t fair too well in her first DLC outing exclusive to the Xbox 360
By Dakota Grabowski

Extra Underworld chapter is far from unique

After searching for hours upon hours to find Thor’s Hammer in Tomb Raider: Underworld, Lara is about to get her first big break from adventuring and a real shot at relaxation. This is what’s probably on her mind as she digs through old files of her fathers when she stumbles upon word of an artifact that lies underneath her own manor. Never the one to back away from a good adventure, Ms. Croft is on her way to discover the truths that have always been right under her home all along.

Tomb Raider: Underworld - Beneath the Ashes is an additional chapter to the story of Underworld. Originally removed from the game due to the team not having enough time to finish the material and it not fitting in with the storyline, Eidos received an easy pass to go back to give this chapter a second chance as an exclusive download to the Xbox Live service. Is it worth your time and money? That’s two questions that have an answer that is a resounding no.

What does Beneath the Ashes provide to players? Outside of a short session through the world of Lara Croft, this expansion is nothing more than level pack with no replay value. Searching for the ancient relic that ultimately grants the power over undead creatures that are found within the game, Beneath the Ashes isn’t what Tomb Raider fans have been waiting for. This isn’t combat oriented by any standards, but instead it focuses on exploring and platforming.

There are a few tricky puzzles to solve, but they won’t have you scratching your head for too long before you figure them out. The dungeons aren’t riddled with enemies, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since in Underworld they became a nuisance at times. True fans of Tomb Raider franchise should understand that the core mechanics of the game that are to be appreciated are the platforming elements. When you are done with your journey through the caverns and dungeons of Lara’s Manor, you might find yourself wondering where all the enjoyment was.

A big problem with Beneath the Ashes is that it’s too easy and far too short. You can use Ms. Croft’s diary from her father to give you pointers on how to accomplish your tasks at hand, but you won’t need it since a quick glance at the layout of a cavern or dungeon is all you need to comprehend how run through the level. Completing Beneath the Ashes will take about an hour and a half of your time if you are a Tomb Raider veteran. If you are relatively new to the franchise, then expect at least 30 minutes to be added on. For the price is $10 (800 Microsoft Points), you may have expected a little more bang for your buck. With 125 achievement points to collect, players will have earned every one of them in the hour and a half they spent playing through the story.

Visually, this is the same exact game you’ve experienced from Underworld. It’s not exactly a bad thing, but you the environments aren’t epic enough for Ms. Croft to explore. So what’s left to be said about Beneath the Ashes? Well in the end, it’s a disappointment for the price you have to pay to experience the brevity of the expansion.

For starters, this was originally planned to be in the retail version of Tomb Raider: Underworld until it was scrapped. While I do appreciate the team going back to give it a second chance, the end product isn’t highly unique. This is truly meant only for the hardcore Tomb Raider fans who are craving more adventures. If you don’t include yourself in that group, avoid Beneath the Ashes and pick up Lara’s Shadow, the second DLC expansion, instead.

Pros: A lot of platforming action and interesting story involving Lara’s manor.

Cons: Not enough gameplay diversity and too short.

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