Published by Eidos Interactive
Developed by Crystal Dynamics
By Diana Poulsen
“Too much tomb, not enough raiding,” is what my brother said about the original Tomb Raider ten years ago. Recently, I rented the newest addition to the series and, surprisingly, I found myself enjoying Tomb Raider Legend. As for my brother’s statement, in this edition, every time you kill a mercenary, a baby laughs. Of course, this isn’t a shooter; the key elements are exploring, puzzle solving, and platforming.
The story takes off right from the get go with a well-executed tutorial level that invites you into the game without a high learning curve. I’m not going give away too many of the details, other then it has to do with why Lara Croft became a tomb raid— I mean a respectable archaeologist searching for an artifact of legends.
The fighting in the game consists of a mix of melee and shooting. I didn’t use the melee attacks until the very end of the game. The shooting uses a targeting system which works well most of the time, though occasionally you won’t attack the person directly in front of you. But who wants to do that anyway? There is also an over the shoulder shooting mode, but it’s not really meant for fighting, since you can’t move while in it.
The platforming consists of climbing, jumping, rope climbing, grappling hook swinging, climbing, acrobatic and all sorts of other joyously and annoyingly timed stunts to help explore every nook and cranny of the levels. For those with bad timing, you’ll take pleasure in seeing Lara die an awful lot. At least you get to watch her smash into the ground like a rag doll; her breasts don’t act as air bags, apparently. Legend has also managed to include the popular “reaction command” — seemingly becoming more popular — in the cinematics, so you’ll need to be on your toes for those.
In a few levels you get to drive a motorcycle, which is fun as long as you don’t need to back up or do any sharp turns. So really, all you can do is drive straight. There’s also a glitch in the Kazakhstan level involving the bike: if you land on the train with the motorcycle at an odd point, the computer doesn’t know you are on the train, and you lose the mission. So make sure to get in the centre of the train car and not too close to the side.
Graphically, Legend is gorgeous. Like the sexy Lara, there is tons of equally steamy scenery: from the underground castle to the jungle to swan dives off a cliff, your visual senses will be astounded. The texture maps are of such a high quality you can see the water dripping off her body and the sheep wool on her coat.
Sadly, the adventure is short at only 8 hours, and its ending is shockingly abrupt. I thought I had screwed up, and had to unlock more levels, but no, that how it ends, leaving space for a possible sequel. The saves are based off a checkpoint system, so when you complete a complex series of moves you reach a checkpoint, but remember to save because checkpoints are not autosaves. After the game is completed you can’t save in the missions like you could do during the first run through. Meaning if you decided to play for a few minutes, save and leave, you have start from the very beginning of the level, not where you saved.
Despite all of my complaints, Legend is a really fun game and you don’t notice that you’ve spent X amount of time playing it. I never thought I’d enjoy Tomb Raider, but now I am a fan.