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
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
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.