Reviewed by Jimmy | 05.16.06
Introduction:The Tomb Raider franchise was a big deal to a few gamers once upon a time, Lara hit the consoles and Tomb Raider was a success. Then came hollywood with Angelina Jolie leading the role of Lara Croft its was hard not to notice Lady Croft. Then tragic events struck, we call this Angel of Darkness! Luckily times are changing and Tomb Raider: Legend has to gain its fan base back. Lara Croft is back and we are treated to the old Lara in an adventure that would make Indiana Jones envious.
The Game:Lara Croft, queen of platforming has returned! Fueled by memories of her lost mother and friends forgotten, Lara once again is on the search for ancient artifacts. Being the worldly gal she is you will venture around the globe is exotic locations such as the jungles of Bolivia, high rise towers in Japan, and even into the icy cold landscapes of Kazakhstan on the borders of Russia and China. Lara is back armed and ready for a fight.
Everything is right in Tomb Raider Legends and fans agree. We are back to swinging, searching, pulling and pushing are way around ruins while blasting the wildlife and non stop hordes of mercenaries. Inspired from Jungle Hunt, or more Indiana Jones as mentioned in the intro, Lara proudly pushes platforming back to it roots without the flash wizardry of controlling time, or duel personalities (no offense PoP). This isn't a revolutionary Tomb Raider game which breaks Lara into new grounds, but more of an updated mirror of its former self.
Tomb Raider is a short game and will take you roughly eight to ten hours to finish although Eidos has kept incentives to keep you going after the adventure is done. You could go for the other completion achievement, one defeating the game on easy or medium and the other hard, or play through the levels in a time trail to unlock more costumes for our heroine, achieve the fastest time per level or unlock the coins you've missed during your first play through. Once was enough for me, I don't know if I would have enough patience to run through this whole adventure again. Tomb Raider is and has always been great test for your patience. At times things did seem a little off, of course it has to be the controller not the controller, make sense? I don't know how many times I cleared several parts then died without getting a check point and when going back over the same parts, mess up. Some angels can be weird when jumping so if time permits rotate the camera until you have a position your comfortable with the jump, leap, or slide. Take your time with this one kids! It's better then re-doing ten sequences to hit a checkpoint.
As I think back, I remember the old Tomb Raider games and the thing that made them really great was some challenging puzzles. It could be that I'm more seasoned as a gamer 'not', but this Tomb Raider was pretty much a breeze concerning the puzzles. I fought more with jumping on poles then mastering the ancient three squares on the ground, three squares on the board quiz. Puzzles aside it's all pretty fun running through the game, plus Lara has learned a few new tricks. First those squares, they don't have to move on a square grid, Lara can move them freely. She also has some new gadgets which are incorporated into puzzles and getting around and that's her grappling hook. The grappling hook fits naturally in Tomb Raider and it also gives the developers a chance to play with some new tricks. Lara also gets to drive a motorcycle in a few parts of the game which breaks up the gameplay. Those parts are nothing special, but they look cool if someone is watching the game. That's about it on the new front, not much, but good enough.
Now for the part of the review where I gripe. I have some concerns about the combat in Tomb Raider Legends, well mainly the auto targeting system. Being nice, it is off sometimes. You would think the auto targeting system would target the closest enemy for you to give a led salad, it does this, oh I'd say 50% of the time. So you march into a room, ten heavily armed mercs are ready to give you a up close view of their fancy red grenades, you jump. auto target. shoot. it's aiming at the farthest adversary in the room and your shots aren't connecting, you scramble, jump around like you're playing Quake waiting for the target system to aim on the guy beaming you. Ah, yes frustrating. This happens, although like I mentioned its not every encounter. At least it doesn't ruin the game, as dramatic as I made it sound. Tomb Raider is still enjoyable it is just the combat that needs so re-tooling.
For the gameplay , we have a game that is on, or near the same level as the old Tomb Raider games, better then the last one, and fun to play. Tomb Raider staring Lara Croft has always been a little on the frustrating side, but it never gets out of hand. Crystal Dynamics did everything they could to make this adventure work and they succeeded.
Graphics & Sound:I was really impressed with the quality of Tomb Raider graphics especially the lighting and the excellent use used of music. Tomb Raider does almost everything right when it comes to the level design, lighting, sound effects, and backing musical tracks. The high production value helped me get into the role of Lara and believe her surroundings. The presentation excellent and they do a good job of providing action enough cut-scenes to keep us in the game.
The only real negative comment I can make about this section is the unpolished cartoon look of some of the NPCs and other objects in the game. That aside this is a crisp looking game that keeps it simple and does it right. The Xbox version also holds up its own and is very similar to the Xbox 360 version, minus the extra effects like smog, and the crispness of the graphics. I was impressed with the Xbox version giving that it is cross platform as well as PC and Xbox 360, but if I had to choose between them I would give the extra ten bucks just for achievements and a more detailed experience.
Mojo:I'm played Tomb Raider since its conception on the PC (1996) and I've enjoyed most of the Tomb Raider games. This time around Lara seemed to be her old self, but in a way it was a little to straight forward and unchallenging compared to some of her other games. It's the puzzles that should frustrate and not the shooting. Now we know Lara has the mojo, it's the other parts of the game that weaken her down. All and all, cocked and loaded, Tomb Raider has the mojo.
Lowdown:It's a fact; Lara has made a successful comeback in Tomb Raider: Legends. This multi-platform adventure from the most popular lady in gaming is like you remember your Lara. Tomb Raider Legends is a good game worth your investment of time, although I would weigh the option of renting over buying mainly because of the games length. I feel the Tomb Raider series is back on track and I'm already anticipating the return of a clearly focused next generation Tomb Raider game.