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Video Game / Tomb Raider: Underworld

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"I only want the truth, whatever it may be."

The Doppelgänger: "Obsession and Compulsion are much the same, either way we are, neither of us, our own masters."

Tomb Raider: Underworld was released in 2008 and is the ninth entry in the Tomb Raider series. It is the last game of the first Crystal Dynamics trilogy that started with Legend; after the release of Underworld, the series was rebooted a second time with Tomb Raider (2013).

Set a some time after the events of Legend, Lara Croft is now searching for Avalon, a mythical place where she believes she might find her missing mother. Thanks to a clue given to her by one of her late father's friends, she manages to pinpoint a location in the Mediterranean Sea, unwittingly stumbling upon the remains of some ancient Norse ruins and, more importantly, one of the gauntlets of Thor, the god of thunder. After an unlikely source informs her that Thor's hammer is the key to unlocking Helheim, the place where her mother was sent to, Lara descends into the underworlds of various ancient cultures. Determined to solve the mystery of her mother's disappearance once and for all, she sets out to collect Thor's gauntlets, belt and hammer, simultaneously making sure she stays one step ahead of her nemeses.

The locations she visits during the game include ruins beneath the Mediterranean Sea, Coastal Thailand, her own home, Croft Manor, the jungles of Southern Mexico, Jan Mayen Island, a ship in the Andaman Sea and finally, the Arctic Sea.

Underworld attempts a sort of combination of Legend and Anniversary, with the narrative integration of the former and the level design, isolation and other aspects from the latter. The storyline itself receives a bit of a helping of Darker and Edgier, though its success is arguable. Although its graphics are top-notch, the game has received quite mixed reviews, partially due to being obviously rushed out for Christmas. Many felt that the game was let down by of its various bugs and issues, its camera issues being particularly noteworthy. Some overlooked those issues, or got lucky, and considered it one of the best in the series, others were completely put off by them or ended up with an overall impression more along the lines of So Okay, It's Average. Two additional chapters were later released as Downloadable Content that was exclusive to the Xbox 360, which is still something of a sore point for the rest of the fandom.

It was released for PC/Mac, PlayStation 2 and 3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS and mobiles.

This page may contain unmarked spoilers.

This game contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Lara Croft. Obviously.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: Makes an appearance in Mexico, where an entire room is centered around this kind of trap. They initially don't really offer much of a challenge, thanks to Lara's new sprinting ability. Once you grab the trinket you came for however, you'll realise the trip back is not quite as easy.
  • All Trolls Are Different/Our Giants Are Bigger: Upon encountering the first Yeti Thrall, Lara speculates that they could be the origins of Norse myths of Trolls and Giants.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Just like in previous Crystal Dynamics games, collecting secrets predominately unlocks new costumes.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In "Lara's Shadow", searching her manor even further after the events of the main story, Lara eventually discovers the Commanding Phrase "Ohk Eshivar" right as the Doppelgänger corners her. Lara is fast enough to say it just as she was about to be throttled and took control of her copy. After a brief philosophical discussion of who and what the Doppelgänger was - with the clone claiming free will is a flaw and neither her nor Lara were 'their own masters' - Lara asks:
    Lara: But if you were, what would you do?
    • Lara proceeds to remove the copy's ability to be manipulated and without any further orders, it leaves to do exactly what Lara would do: eliminate Jacqueline Natla.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The mechanics to trigger an instant kill have been reworked since Anniversary. Not only must the target be enraged, but Lara herself must have enough Adrenaline to enter Bullet Time. Adrenaline is gained in a very inconsistent way during combat and complex acrobatics, and almost instantly depletes back to zero.
    • PC version took it a step further, since it takes pushing a few different buttons in perfect sequence all over the keyboard - and clicking the mouse in specific order too.
  • Back from the Dead: Jacqueline Natla. In fact, she's so good at this she even does it twice within the game. Lampshaded by Lara when they first meet again:
    Lara: Jacqueline Natla, you just don't know when to die.
  • Backtracking: In a departure from other titles, Lara usually needs to find her way back out of the tombs she ventures into. Whether these extended sequences are for the sake of immersion or filler is up for debate. Averted by Jan Mayen Island; after Lara retrieves Mjolnir, she makes her way to Amanda's ship herself.
  • Bag of Spilling: What happened with Excalibur? It seems like a perfect weapon to bring along (not to mention needed to open the portal Lara's mom was transported through). Also, while Lara can hold an unlimited number of healing items in this game, she discards them at the start of each new level for some reason.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. It's not always that noticeable unless the camera is really zoomed in on her, but Lara gets some dirt on her whenever she rolls about too much. Alternatively, when she's climbing and shimmying around ledges. Even her face'll get a little smudged at times.
  • Benevolent Architecture: Poles randomly sticking out of walls - allowing Lara to swing her way across - is but one of the many examples. Climbable ledges often have a lighter shade or tint compared to surrounding surfaces, making them easier to spot.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Jacqueline Natla and Amanda Evert team up against Lara. Or so Amanda thinks.
  • Big "NO!": Lara's reaction when the Doppelgänger shoots Alister.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Lara prevents The End of the World as We Know It and apparently finally gets rid off Natla. But Alister is dead, Croft Manor is a bombed ruin and Lara had to shoot her own zombiefied mother - the very person she was searching for for the entire Legends timeline. An alternate ending also has Lara abandoning Amanda in Nepal, during a heavy blizzard, after Knee-capping her. The released ending at least gives them some sense of reconciliation.
  • Blatant Item Placement: Weird medicinal mixtures and up-to-date sterilised medkits can be picked up at every corner, including locations that have supposedly been sealed off to any outside influences since the mysterious pre-Nordic civilization created them.
  • Bond One-Liner: Subverted when a Mook knocks Lara out before she can finish delivering her quip.
    • Played straight in the first DLC.
    (Lara casually shoots a thrall in her own basement)
    Zip: (on radio) The hell was that?!
    Lara: A rather big clue.
  • Bookends: After destroying the Midgard Serpent, a monstrous device that could have caused the end of the world, and taking out Natla with Mjölnir, Lara and Amanda escape through a nearby dais, which teleports them to the one in Nepal, where Lara's mother originally disappeared.
  • Braids of Action: The Doppelgänger in a few cutscenes. In an ironic twist her has been hair braided into iconic style of Lara from the original games, while Lara herself only has a ponytail.
  • Boss Battle: Averted. Somewhat notable in that it is the first game in the series to have no traditional boss battles.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Played straight for the Dual Pistols; they have a limited magazine size, but can be reloaded as often as the player wants to. Averted for all other guns Lara has within her arsenal; once you've shot away all your ammunition, the gun is useless until the next level.
  • Bottomless Pits: Yes, Lara still dies when she falls down one of these. They tend to make at least one appearance in each level. Later levels tend to dress them up with pools of poisonous eitr, a mythical substance that creates thralls out of any creatures unfortunate enough to fall in.
  • Bullet Time: One of Lara's moves utilises this; in a bit of combination from the previous Matrix-style moves, Lara will jump onto and then flip off an enemy. While in the air, time slows down and two reticules align themselves over the enemy's weak point, which Lara can shoot. Additionally, during sudden dangerous moments, Lara will have a brief period of Bullet Time to react, replacing the Quick Time Events of the two previous games.
  • Came Back Wrong: Lara's mother. Being trapped in a thrall-filled underworld tends to do that to you.
  • Checkpoint: Frequently double as a Save Point as well. However, unlike previous games, checkpoints don't have any visual indicators and some don't even have audio cues.
  • Clarke's Third Law: The ancient artifacts in the game are obviously technological in their nature, but in the same time their properties are so beyond current science they appear to be pure magic.
  • Cool Bike: Lara has access to her bike in the Mexico and Jan Mayen Island levels. Sometimes it's even used as an instrument in solving a puzzle. It also proves to be the easiest way (barring Mjolnir) to get rid of thralls.
  • Crate Expectations: On both ships, moving them and collecting items hidden in them is a vital part of the gameplay.
  • Crouch and Prone: When Lara needs to squeeze through some small gaps.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Lara is held at gunpoint by a team of five mercenaries at one point, which would hardly pose a challenge in regular gameplay. However, since this is a cutscene, Lara surrenders and, although she tries to get a quip in, is then knocked unconscious.
  • Darker and Edgier: After the Lighter and Softer that was Legend, Underworld veers right past the grittiness that Angel of Darkness established.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lara, of course. The Doppelgänger is identical enough to have this as well (though she only speaks in the Downloadable Content level).
    • Amanda somehow manages to out-snark Lara.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Death simply sends you back to the last checkpoint with full health and the medkits you've picked up.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Thanks to Thor's hammer, Lara is now perfectly capable of killing Natla, and does so at the end of the game, hurling the deadly weapon at the Atlantean Queen. And yet, she manages to survive even that, though it did look like it stung a little.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • It can take a few playthroughs to learn, but Bullet Time brings a lot of flair to combat.
    • Mastering proper use of the Tranquillizer Gun takes a while, but it allows Lara to thin down the crowd of enemies or turn an otherwise hard fight in a small room into no fight at all.
  • Downloadable Content: A considerable amount of extra content for Underworld was exclusive to the Xbox 360, including two new levels and several additional outfits.
  • Drop the Hammer: Thor's hammer, though it is never actually used to physically hit someone with. Firing lightning bolts is much more fun.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Once Lara gets her hands on Thor's hammer. The level that comes immediately after you obtain it is fairly short, being a kind of a repeat of an earlier level. Only this time around, Lara has the hammer and boy, is it fun to send thugs flying with that thing.
  • Enemy Mine: Lara teams up with Amanda after the latter was betrayed by Natla.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: After stopping Natla, Lara and Amanda are apparently trapped right next to the collapsing structure. Amanda remarks how they've saved the world, but now are going die, just like Lara's mother. Lara almost immediately throttles her, but realises mid-swing there must be a dias connecting to Nepal.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Amanda might be vengeful toward Lara, but that's private and personal. Outside of that, she's more than eager to stop the end of the world.
  • Evil Plan: Natla's scheme to unleash the Midgard Serpent, causing The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Evil Redhead: The Doppelgänger's hair color is bloody crimson and she serves as The Brute to Natla.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Doppelgänger speaks in a distorted, almost baritone version of Lara's voice.
  • Evil Twin: The Doppelgänger, but she's not a biological sister - rather some sort of clone.
    Doppelgänger: (to Lara) I am you. With the flaws removed.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: Amanda ultimately decides to help Lara prevent The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Played With. Each level features a few possible outfits, all of which are suitable for said level's climate, but it is possible to play with unlocked outfits (such as Lara's sexy wetsuit in the Artic Ocean).
  • Fake Longevity: Certain puzzles requires you to pull not one, but two switches, usually in the mirror opposite part of the mechanism. Might not always be bad, but a few of the most blatant examples quickly get tiresome. Many levels, especially earlier ones, also require Lara to backtrack through entire temples just to escape.
  • Final Boss: The Midgard Serpent, though that's more of a Reactor Boss than anything.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: So many that each level on Stella's Tomb Raider walkthrough site has a page cataloging the various glitches, many of which prevent you from finishing a level. Sadly, many of these never got fixed in game updates.
  • Giant Mook: Yeti thralls are roughly the size of a small truck and with similar resistance. It takes 3 blasts from Mjolnir, leveler of mountains, just to subdue one.
  • Giant Spider: South Mexico's underground ruins features massive, white tarantula-like spiders about the same size as Lara, which are also encountered later in the final dungeon. They can follow Lara across gaps by crawling on walls.
  • Grand Finale: Underworld serves as this to the Legend trilogy, wrapping up the plot threads left hanging at the end of Legend and bringing Anniversary's Jacqueline Natla back for one more round as the Big Bad.
  • Guide Dang It!: Each level, players are asked to pick their secondary weapon. It's a lie. In reality, Lara has all the secondary weapons and their ammo on herself at all times and they can be freely switched at any point using her PDA.
  • Guns Akimbo: Notably, this is the only game in the franchise so far allowing to aim at two different targets at the same time as a designed, intended mechanicsnote .
  • In Medias Res: The game starts with a cutscene of Croft Manor blowing up, and the tutorial level involves Lara escaping the burning remnants of her home. At the end, she catches a glimpse of Winston and Zip trying to escape through the front door; Zip unexpectedly shoots at Lara. Right afterwards, the titles play and the action shifts back to 2 weeks prior in the Mediterranean Sea. Later in the game, the exact same scene and level are played, and this time the full incident is revealed: Amanda sent a new Lara doppelgänger to open the vault using explosives and retrieve the Wraith Stone.
  • It's Personal: To everyone. Lara, Amanda and Natla all have very personal reasons for why they try to kill each other over the course of the game and it only gets worse as the story progresses. This even extends to Zip - after Alister is killed, he is motivated to deliver payback to Amanda and the Doppelgänger.
  • Lampshade Hanging: At the opening of Thailand level, Zip outright asks Lara how the hell the dig site connects at all with Norse mythology, being the other side of the globe. To which she replies with all myths being just retelling of the same thing.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Doppelgänger is fast enough to make it virtually impossible to aim at her, while able to punch through Yeti thralls. She also seems to be completely unfazed by sustained injuries. In the DLC expansion "Lara's Shadow", the player can take advantage of some of her "Shadow Powers".
  • Kraken and Leviathan: The former is encountered as a Puzzle Boss inside the Mediterranean Ruins, taking the form of a truly colossal orange octopus monster who will istantly kill Lara if she gets too close to it or its tentacles. Fortunately, it is blind, and won't personally pursue Lara most of the time. You get rid of it by dropping a spiked stone platform on its head.
  • Male Gaze: Lara dons a swimsuit-leotard for significant portions of the game. The camera also seems to hang around a lot closer to Lara than usual.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: The Doppelgänger never really was on anyone's side, but since she's bound by magic to Natla's commands, she grudgingly follows them. Natla really should have known better than to order her openly rebellious thrall to end herself after killing Lara.
  • More Dakka: The dual Mini Uzis can empty both clips in about 3 seconds and have really high stopping power.
  • Obvious Beta: Downplayed, but still noticeable. The issues range from annoying, but tolerable - such as wildly inconsistent fall damage - to outright Game-Breaking Bug - like plot-important objects or entire areas not spawning/loading properly.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Natla's motivation is to wipe out everything from the face of Earth. Not just humanity or life, but going as far as breaking down continents.
  • One Myth to Explain Them All: Turns out Arthurian Legend, Norse Mythology, Aztec Mythology and Hindu Mythology were all inspired by the same events, with Norse mythology being the closest to the truth.
  • Only the Worthy May Pass: Played With. Certain areas can be only accessed by someone already wearing Thor's garments.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The poachers in Mexico have nothing to do with the rest of the plot, but they definitely don't like people crashing in the middle of their operation.
  • The Power of Hate: After having to put her own mother down, Lara is unable to even stand up. Cue Natla showing up and smugly mentioning how she killed Lara's father after he was no longer useful for her. This not only adds up to already high stack of reasons why Lara wants to kill Natla, but gives her the strength to get up and fight.
  • Power of Trust: The only way for Lara and Amanda to both stop the Evil Plan and survive doing so is to entrust each other with their own lives, fully knowing at no point the second party is obligated to uphold their side of bargain. One can see the conflict playing out on Amanda's face as she struggles between her hatred and conscience. Defied in the alternative ending, where they are quickly back to fighting each other. Lara ends up wounding Amanda and leaves her to die, alone and in a blizzard.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Amanda is surprisingly pragmatic in her actions, even if her aim is to make Lara suffer as much as possible rather than outright killing her (but that's still a fair game). Meanwhile, Natla subverts it, at first appearing to be a great mastermind, but then it's revealed it's all just petty revenge with a convoluted plot to hurt Lara rather than getting rid of her at the first chance given. Not to mention what she plans to do, regardless of consequences.
  • Reactor Boss: The final confrontation with Natla focuses entirely on dodging or powering through a huge amount of thralls, while desperately trying to destroy the machine she's currently preparing for launch.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Giant Lizards are encountered as staple enemies in Thailand. They can cling to walls and columns.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Thor's Hammer might be the most powerful weapon in the universe, but without the help of special gloves and powering belt, it can't be even lifted or swung.
  • Restraining Bolt: Whoever utters the magic words "Ohk Eshivar" can control creatures born of the eitr, including thralls and the Doppelgänger. Lara takes advantage of the latter to wreak havoc on Natla.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: Natla wants to wipe everything off the face of Earth, including continents, killing pretty much the entirety of life in the process. Never mind it would leave her absolutely alone on the top of the barren rock. On the other hand Amanda might be driven with maniacal desire to get revenge on Lara, but is sane enough to realise where the entire Midgar Serpent plot will lead and does her best to prevent it, even overcoming her pathological drive to harm Lara. They are still not friends by the end (and they probably never be again), but at least some traces of reconciliation are present.
  • Scenery Porn: Thailand and Mexico are just gorgeous, combining lush foliage, impressive ruins and breathtaking natural formations. And the graphics aged pretty well, so the effect is still there after almost a decade.
  • Self-Guarding Phlebotinum: Once even a single artifact required to lift Thor's Hammer is used, the entire set of them can only be wielded by the same person.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Subverted, breaking a really long use of this for the entire franchise.
  • Shout-Out: A nod to Norse myths happens by the end, after the Evil Plan is already stopped:
    Amanda: After killing the Midgard Serpent, Thor dies from its venom anyway.
  • Shown Their Work: This is probably the best researched Tomb Raider game in existence in regard of locations, ancient cultures and architecture. And all while still maintaining the pulpy atmosphere of adventure. Special mention goes to Lara's journal entries, which often expound on the mythological bases behind the ruins she encounters - a feature kept in the 2nd series reboot.
    • To wield Thor's Hammer it is required to first wear Megingjörð and Járngreipr.
    • Special mention goes to the use of Jan Mayen island as plot point. The island is a microcontinent, situated at the point where Eurasian and (supposed) Greenlandnote  Plates connect and is also very close to Reykjanes Ridge. Basically, applying as much force as the Midgard Serpent is impled to have at that point would indeed cause a catastrophic split of Earth's crust.
  • Sticks to the Back: Zig-Zagged. On one hand, Lara’s currently selected secondary weapon, if not used, will be on her back. On the other hand, the remaining four weapons will be hidden in Hammerspace.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: By the end of the game, Lara and Amanda hate each other even more than ever before. But if they won't cooperate, not only they won't survive next five minutes, but the entire world will share their fate.
  • Tempting Fate: In a journal entry written right before entering Jan Mayen Island, Lara muses that "perhaps this site being so remote will also mean no undead guardians lurking within to complicate my search." The Viking thralls didn't seem to get that memo.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Lara hits Natla with Thor's Hammer, the most powerful weapon in the series capable of killing demigods, and she falls into the eitr, which instantly kills anything that lands in it (though it usually reanimates corpses as thralls). The DLC piles on by having Natla downed in eitr a second time.
  • Threatening Shark: Three different types of sharks bother Lara in the underwater levels of Underworld.
  • Throwing Your Hammer Always Works: Justified. Thor's Hammer destroys everything in quite large area, so it doesn't take superb aim. Plus Natla was too far away to reach her by any other means
  • Tranquillizer Dart: Due to more than a decade of critique for killing endangered species, Underworld introduced a tranquilizer gun to Lara's arsenal. Due to one-hit Instant Sedation it's extremely effective, in certain situations more than real guns. Hit enemies are put to sleep for about a minute, which is more than enough to traverse the area. Of course, it won't work on enemies that aren't alive anymore.
  • Trash the Set: Croft Manor is blown up and engulfed in flames, courtesy of Natla and Amanda's Lara Doppelgänger. Amanda's first ship also ends up capsizing and sinking into the ocean.
  • The Undead: Thralls represent any living creatures that have had contact with eitr. They are animated corpses with a skeletal appearance and as their name implies, they are slaves to the person commanding them. Left alone, they are vicious, aggressive creatures attacking anything living. Also, for whatever reason, all thralls seem to be slightly bigger than their living counterparts. After sustaining some serious damage, they will collapse, but if not quickly smashed to pieces, they will simply get up and continue their attack.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: To a really annoying extent. Each level starts with finite amount of ammunition for other weapons than the pistols. Weapons from killed mercenaries or Mexican poachers can't be even touched, not to mention used in any way.
  • Version-Exclusive Content: The Xbox 360 version, alone, received a pair of DLC expansions, "Beneath the Ashes" and "Lara's Shadow". Even the later PlayStation 3 Tomb Raider Trilogy collection doesn't include them.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Simply tranquilizing animals and human enemies saves a lot of time and in certain places allows you to bypass really tough encounters.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: There is absolutely nothing stopping Lara from first using a tranq gun on her enemies and then shooting them with real bullets when they lie unconscious. Lampshaded by the manual.
    Distasteful? Yes. Unsporting? Yes. Efficient? Try it and see.