There's no doubt in my mind that giving the Tomb Raider franchise over to Crystal Dynamics to develop was the best thing that's happened to the series. They've took a dying franchise and given it new life, and they're getting better at it with each new title. From the demo of Tomb Raider: Underworld I sat in on this week, I get the feeling the trend is continuing.

The demo started by delivering new depth to the series, plunging a scuba diving Lara Croft deep into the ocean to recover an ancient artifact. Lara swam smoothly, using a harpoon gun to take out circling sharks as she solved a puzzle that opened a door to an ancient temple.


Once inside and on semi-dry land, Lara crawled, jumped, and shimmied her way around a giant octopus (or kraken, if you prefer), bringing the roof down on its head in order to progress before the demo ended. While I didn't get to control her myself, the gameplay and mechanics seem in place, but what about the look of the game? As the demo ended, a man behind me stood up and offered his opinion.

"You got her ass perfect." The assembled crowd shifted uncomfortably.

"And the dimples beneath her..." Thankfully he stopped before I tackled him to the ground. Lara Croft does strange things to a man.

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