Tomb Raider: Underworld Features

FeatureTomb Raider: Underworld - Episodes

Ron Rosenberg on Beneath the Ashes, and playing as the Doppelganger in Lara's Shadow.

Once regarded with uniform suspicion, premium downloadable content for console games has thrown off some of that stigma in recent months, as the likes of GTAIV: The Lost and Damned and the Mirror's Edge Pure Time Trial Pack have advanced the original games in directions influenced by critical and community response.

Tomb Raider: Underworld

Lara takes us sailing.

Eidos won't thank us for bringing it up, but let's go back to 2003, and Angel of Darkness. It's just come out - plunged from the development womb into the amniotic fluid of fiscal desperation - and someone's called up Crystal Dynamics and asked them to step in. That must have been a heck of a call to answer after half a dozen Tomb Raiders, and we only bring it up because we're trying to think of a good touchstone for our present situation, trying to come up with something good for Eurogamer's fourth preview of Tomb Raider: Underworld, due out this time next month.

Tomb Raider Underworld

If I had a hammer.

Tomb Raider is well known for its carefully orchestrated thrills, yet it's not the daredevil leaps, walls of spikes, or angry squid that tends to makes me nervous. Instead, my perennial fear is that the next time I attend an Underworld preview, I'll have to survive an awkward meeting with one of the Lara Croft models. I can handle the lava floes and the shoot-outs and the prospect of being clotheslined by a zombie Viking - living in Brighton, I deal with these things every day - but the thought of grimacing through a photo op that could be entitled, "Beautiful woman meets socially-awkward pumpkin-head" fills me with real terror. It hardly sounds like the high point of her life, either.

FeatureTomb Raider Underworld

Thai another day.

Underworld's first trailer may have suggested total revolution, with Croft Manor blasted into dust while Mozart's Requiem shriekingly heralds the end of the entire world, but Eidos' slow striptease reveal of Tomb Raider's next instalment suggests that very little of the fundamental experience is going to change much.

FeatureTomb Raider: Underworld

Shouting Lara, Lara, Lara, Lara.

Arse is the new tits. That's just one of the trends I noticed emerging from this year's E3, which is to gaming what London Fashion Week is to people who make trousers for a living. Other trends include games set in post-apocalyptic American cities (I counted approximately 47,000 of these), and games about shooting mud-coloured monsters with no hair, gaping maws and the gait of an irritated orangutan (I counted approximately 47,000 of these, of which 47,000 were set in a post-apocalyptic American city).