Tomb Raider Underworld: Lara's Shadow

Maybe every Tomb Raider should star Evil Lara

Now this is more like it. Whereas the previous installment of Underworld downloadable content bored us to tears with a level that looked like it%26rsquo;d been cut from the full game owing to gross mediocrity, this second stab is a whole new Thrall... er, ball game.

Actually, let%26rsquo;s be more specific. In terms of level design, it%26rsquo;s only a mild improvement. This episode, set in a perpetually black subterranean cavern, sees Lara%26rsquo;s evil double tasked with helping out evil Atlantean babe turned ghoulish monstrosity Natla. After slogging her way across pits of icy fire, she%26rsquo;s then got to do the whole thing in reverse %26ndash; an old and cheap trick that won%26rsquo;t endear gamers already cursing at having to fork out for the privilege of another all-too brief jaunt into the Raider universe. Still, it%26rsquo;s a decent opportunity to hone your new Shadow skills so we%26rsquo;d advise slaloming through it as quickly as possible.

Not sounding too hot so far, is it? Thankfully, Lara%26rsquo;s lookalike is able to inject some much-needed vitality into proceedings. She might not score quite as high on the babe-o-meter, but Dark Lara has some funky tricks up her Goth sleeves. Primarily, hitting either of your pad%26rsquo;s bumpers kicks off %26lsquo;shadow time%26rsquo;, allowing our little devil to scamper up sheer rock faces the regular Lara would baulk at. Combat skills see the same upgrade, making her a feisty proposition in the fisticuffs department.

At the moment, it%26rsquo;s all potential %26ndash; but while we like nothing more than testing our grey matter with regular Lara while sipping on a cup of tea, Dark Lara offers quicksilver fast leaping and fighting. It makes for a real contrast and a pleasant change, so fingers crossed Crystal Dynamics make more of these new elements in the inevitable future installments of Ms. Croft%26rsquo;s adventures...

Apr 2, 2009

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