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Adsolutely Fabulous? Tomb Raider: Underworld 'Free'

Games move so quickly. Today’s AAA title, with a huge marketing spend and adverts, is tomorrow’s experimental sales fodder. There’s a new Tomb Raider coming out in March this year, so Square Enix have lobbed Tomb Raider: Underworld up on their streaming game service Core. That’s the (*counts on fingers*) eighth? Yeah, eighth Tomb Raider game, for fans of chronology. It’s “free” up there, which means you need to watch some ads and install a thing, and even then you might not get to play all of it right away.
Square Enix’s Core Online service is one of those things that just seems to exist. I’ve only ever used it to test it out: the tech is impressive, and you can play games on it for “free” from start to finish, although you do need to do collect playtime according to the adverts you watch. I just tested out Underworld, and can confirm that I was playing the game in under two minutes, which is still impressive to me. There are even a few quality control toggles, all the way up to 1080p and ‘High’ quality, which is more control than I imagined. I played it for 10 minutes until the first ad break, when it dropped me out of the game and asked me how much longer would I like to play. The choices ranged from 8 minutes for a 23 second advert, to 23 minutes for a 1 min ad. All for Square Enix games.

There’s another, better Tomb Raider game up on Core as well, with the same restrictions. Hmm, I sound grumpy. I’m glad these games are here, and hope they serve a purpose to people who might not be able to afford a new game. I’d happily stick a child in front of the browser playing Mini Ninjas.

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Craig Pearson

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