Tomb Raider: Underworld

Initial Release: November 2008

Metacritic Score: 70-80 (details)

ESRB/PEGI Rating: Teen/16

Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii. Later: PlayStation 2, Mac OS X, Windows browser-based version, Xbox One (via backward compatibility). Separate versions for mobile, 3D mobile and Nintendo DS.

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Early on, Lara realizes that her mother was not transported to Avalon after all, but to the Norse underworld, Helheim. In order to enter that realm she must obtain a powerful artifact: the thunder god Thor's hammer, Mjolnir. As the travels the globe seeking clues to the hammer's location, Lara discovers connections between the underworld myths of various cultures. The Hindu Bhogavati, the Mayan Xibalba, the Norse Niflheim, Valhalla and Helheim all have real-world counterparts, and Lara must brave the hazards of each location so that she might find the hammer and, ultimately, the truth.

Lara's old rivalry with Amanda Evert, left unresolved at the end of Legend, figures prominently in the Underworld  plot. Lara's friends and helpers, Zip, Alister and Winston, return as well. There's even some unfinished business from the games' early days.

Tomb Raider: Underworld render

What's New Since Legend/Anniversary: The weapons, health and inventory systems are a little different from past games. These are covered in detail on the Underworld Controls and Gameplay Tips page. A few points of interest:

  • New weapons: Spear gun for use underwater, tranquilizer gun, sticky grenades and Thor's fabulous hammer, Mjolnir. While it doesn't quite level mountains, as the legend suggests, it's almost that powerful.
  • New moves: Chimney jump, rappel with grapple, expanded range of gymnastic/climbing moves and melee attacks, optional adrenaline headshot (no more bosses requiring adrenaline moves), ability to shoot one-handed while climbing.
  • In the Nintendo Wii game, Lara also has a handy multi-tool, which has many useful functions-from a compressed air nozzle for cleaning dusty surfaces, to an acetylene torch for cutting thorough metal, to a handy pair of pliers.
  • Vehicles: Lara's speedboat serves as a base of operations in the Mediterranean and Thailand levels, but you can't actually drive it. You do have full control of a sturdy all-terrain motorbike in Southern Mexico and Jan Mayen Island. Not only is this handy for zipping from one area to the next, it also enables Lara to jump across wide gaps and run down enemies.
Tomb Raider: Underworld screenshots

Saving Your Game: All versions have checkpoints. That is, the game autosaves at various spots throughout each level. You can also save manually at any time; however, when Lara dies, or you reload a save you've made, the game resumes at the previous checkpoint. (See Controls & Gameplay.) Windows/Macintosh, PS3 and Wii savegame files are available in case you make a bad save, want to skip a level, etc. Starting a new game can be tricky since the game 'remembers' which treasures and relics you found. Follow this link for how to start a new Tomb Raider: Underworld game.

Rewards & Unlockable Content: The reward system is similar to Legend  and Anniversary, except that the special items—or "secrets" as they were known in previous games—are called Treasures and Relics. Some are in plain sight, some are hidden in obscure places, and a few require exceptional dexterity or ingenuity to obtain.

Underworld treasure and relic

There are 179 treasures and only six relics in the entire game. Finding treasures unlocks various bonuses (i.e., concept artwork and, if you're playing the Xbox or PS3 game, certain achievements or trophies). Relics are actually useful, as they heal Lara completely and increase her maximum health. Finding all six of them effectively doubles Lara's health bar. (The Wii and PS2 games include fewer treasures and no relics.)

For details see the Underworld Rewards page.

Bonus Levels: Two expansion levels for Tomb Raider: Underworld, "Beneath the Ashes" and "Lara's Shadow," are available exclusively for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One through Xbox LIVE Marketplace. These levels can also be purchased and played on Xbox One via backward compatibility. (My walkthroughs are linked below.)

Cheat Codes: There are only a few cheats available. Check the Underworld Cheats page for details.

Tomb Raider: Underworld bathing suite

Costumes, Skins & Modding: The Windows, Mac, PS3 and Xbox game gives players a choice of two or three different outfits for Lara at the beginning of most levels. There are eight outfits in all (some appear in multiple levels), along with a swimsuit, which is unlocked when you beat the game. The Underworld Outfits and Rewards pages have details.

Several downloadable costume packs are available for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One game through the Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

PC players can also download and create their own custom outfits using various texture editing tools. I don't cover modding on this site, but Tomb Raider HUB and are good places to start if you're interested.

Xbox 360 Achievements & PlayStation 3 Trophies: Some achievements and trophies are covered in the walkthrough; some are not. Follow these links for printable achievement and trophy checklists and links to sites with achievement/trophy help.

PC System Requirements:

Minimum system requirements:
OS: Microsoft Windows XP (admin rights required)/Microsoft Windows Vista (admin rights required)*
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3+GHz or AMD Athlon 2.5+GHz
RAM: 1 GB (Windows XP) / 2 GB (Windows Vista)
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 6 series 6800GT (or better) / ATI 1800XT (or better)
Sound Card: 100% Direct X 9.0c-compatible sound card and drivers
DVD-ROM: DVD-ROM drive (no particular speed specified)
Hard Drive: 8 GB free space
Input devices: Keyboard and mouse or Microsoft Xbox 360 controller

Recommended system specs:
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz or Athlon 64 X2 4400+
Video Card: nVidia GeForce 9800 GTX or ATI HD4800

*When Underworld was released, Windows Vista was current. The game should run under Windows 7 with no problems. I've heard of some issues with Windows 8, however, so you may want to try the Underworld demo first and/or seek tech support.

Check your PC specs against the game's required and recommended specs with the easy-to-use tool at System Requirements Lab.

Tomb Raider: Underworld Screenshots

Becoming an Expert Raider

Controls in Underworld  are similar to Legend  and Anniversary  but quite different from the classic games. I encourage you to check out the Controls & Gameplay page. It includes pointers on moving Lara through her environment, controlling the camera, conserving health and ammo, using the menu and inventory systems, saving the game, and more.

See this page for IMPORTANT BUG WARNINGS with minimal spoilers.

Tomb Raider: Underworld Walkthrough/Strategy Guide

IMPORTANT: There are several distinct versions of the game. The Windows, Macintosh, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360/Xbox One versions are virtually identical and are covered in one walkthrough. The Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 2 versions each have separate guides. Be sure to click the correct links for the version you're playing in the list of levels below. The mobile phone and Nintendo DS game are covered in separate sections.

Prologue: Croft Manor

No Illusions  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Level 1: Mediterranean Sea

Part 1: The Path to Avalon  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Part 2: Niflheim  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Part 3: The Norse Connection  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Part 4: God of Thunder  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Part 5: Realm of the Dead  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Level 2: Coastal Thailand

Part 1: The Remnants  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Part 2: Bhogavati  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Part 3: The Ancient World  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Part 4: A Puppet No Longer  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Level 3: Croft Manor

Protected by the Dead  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Level 4: Southern Mexico

Part 1: The Unnamed Days  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Part 2: Xibalba  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Part 3: The Midgard Serpent  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | N/A*)

Part 4: Land of the Dead  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

*There is no "Midgard Serpent" chapter in the Wii or PS2 game.
These areas are included in the "Land of the Dead" chapter.

Level 5: Jan Mayen Island

Part 1: Gate of the Dead  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Part 2: Valhalla  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Level 6: Andaman Sea

Rituals Old  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Level 7: Arctic Sea

Part 1: Helheim  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | N/A**)

Part 2: Yggdrasil  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

Part 3: Out of Time  (PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox | Wii | PS2)

**There is no "Helheim" chapter in the PS2 game.

Treasure Hunt Mode

(How to Replay Levels)

Xbox Exclusive Bonus Levels

Beneath the Ashes

Lara's Shadow

Tomb Raider: Underworld DLC screenshots

Some screenshots courtesy of fuzzycroft.