you're a Lara Croft fan, there's been precious little to cheer about
burst on to the gaming scene back in 1996. As each new game in the series
was released, the quality progressively got worse. By the
time her last
consoles, Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, was released, it looked
as if she might be forced into retirement by sheer mishandling. Thankfully,
took the creative reins away from CORE Design and handed them to Crystal
Dynamics. As a result, Tomb Raider: Legend returns the busty Ms. Croft
problem with the most recent Tomb Raider games is that there
wasn't much actual tomb raiding going on. Somehow, Lara Croft had become
Solid Snake. Add some frustratingly horrid control and the seemingly
ever-present wonky camera and playing a Tomb Raider game had
become more of an exercise in masochism than entertainment. Tomb
Raider: Legend addresses these problems directly. The game returns
Lara to more exotic locales, with some fantastic environment graphics.
effects are, for the most part, the most realistic-looking I've ever
seen in a game.) The tiresome crate puzzles of past games have been refined
into well-constructed brain-teasers that require a nice balance of thought
and dexterity to solve.
game's plot won't win any awards for originality, but at least it does
get back to Lara's roots in terms of letting the archeologist/adventurer
do things that you'd expect an Indiana Jones-type hero to do. To complete
her quest, Lara will have to swing on vines, climb sheer walls, duke
armed thugs and use her noggin to solve those aforementioned puzzles.
Occasionally, Lara will have to ride a motorcycle to get from one end
of a level to the other. The vehicle-based sections of the game are probably
the weakest part of the whole package because they're not particularly
challenging and they seem to exist only to pad the length of the game.
I finished Tomb Raider: Legend in about seven hours, so it's
not a long game to begin with.
best part of Tomb Raider: Legend is the control, which has been
greatly improved since the last entry into the series. Rather than using
an odd combination of the d-pad and analog sticks to control Lara's speed
and direction, the game uses the left analog stick by itself to move
Lara and the right stick to control the game's camera. The d-pad is used
to select weapons, turn Lara's flashlight on and off and to peer through
Lara's binoculars. The binoculars are a key element in solving the game's
puzzles as they can tell you what and how parts of a level can be manipulated.
For example, if you point them at a statue, an indicator will let you
know whether the statue can be moved or if it can be broken. Sizing
up the elements in a puzzle lets you concentrate on solving it rather
than hunting around trying to find the pieces. Even without the binoculars,
the game does a nice job in letting you solve the puzzles on your own
without too much handholding.
look has changed a little bit as well. She now looks (and sounds) more
like the Lara Croft portrayed in the movies by Angelina Jolie. She still
trademark bosom, but her face has been altered to be more expressive.
Her wardrobe has been enhanced too. The game's Tokyo, Japan level --
one of the few that doesn't take place in the wilderness -- features
that will probably get a rise out of more than a few male gamers (and,
I'm sure, a few female gamers too).
Tomb Raider: Legend is not perfect. The targeting selector will
occasionally target the wrong items at the worst possible time. This
is sorely evident
in one of the game's later boss battles and provided one of the few times
I actually got mad at the game for seeming cheap. The level design is
also somewhat inconsistent. The game's early levels are laid
in such a way that they seem natural. The game's final levels occasionally
left me lost in terms of where to go or what to do next. And,
be a Tomb Raider game unless there were some camera issues but
they're nowhere near as bad as in past entries. These are all minor problems
compared to what Tomb
have dealt with in the past.
Raider: Legend is the best game of its type since Legacy
of Kain: Soul Reaver, which was also designed by Crystal
Dynamics. It's good to see Lara return to form. The game's ending leads
us to believe a sequel is forthcoming. For the first time in a long while,
anticipating a new Tomb Raider game doesn't sound like a bad idea.