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Tomb Raider: Legend

3 Ratings: 4.3
Action and Adventure video game by Eidos Interactive for the Xbox 360

The first Tomb Raider title to be designed by Crystal Dynamics (after years under original creator Core), Tomb Raider: Legends is an all-new start for Lara Croft. New character animations and control schemes compliment the more natural character design … see full wiki

Release Date: April, 2006
1 review about Tomb Raider: Legend

Tomb Raider Legend - I play it for the articles.

  • May 15, 2006
Pros: Solid puzzle gameplay, excellent graphics, good voice acting, egaging story

Cons: The save feature saves from the beginning of the level, not your checkpoint. Grrr....

The Bottom Line: A fine game with challenging puzzles, good acting, excellent (if not mind-blowing) graphics, and engaging gameplay. Pick this one up

I think I'm one of the few gamers in the world who did not play any of the Tomb Raider games. I played Tomb Raider 2 for about 10 minutes on the PC about 8 years ago, and got bored with it. But when Tomb Raider Legend came out for Xbox 360, I thought I'd give it a shot. So does it live up to the "next-gen" moniker in terms of graphics, sound, and gameplay? Or is it just a port?

Read on, Dear reader...

•• Story ••
The story is rather complex for a video game story. It begins with Lara Croft trying to get an artifact. Pretty basic stuff. Then she stumbles upon information about an ancient sword that was broken into many parts. We get flashbacks to young Lara as a child and the death of her mother. As well, a childhood friend thought long lost dead may or may not be. And what does this all have to do with the Russian KGB, Japanese organized Crime and the King Arthur legend? No spoilers here, but it is an interesting ride with surprisingly good writing and dialogue. Lara has several one-liners, but none of them are groan inducing. The story is quite good as video games go and never feels contrived. An enjoyable romp.

•• Gameplay ••
Tomb Raider Legend is a 3rd person shooter. This means you see the character in front of you and control her actions as she runs and jumps and does all kinds of crazy stuff in the name of raiding tombs to collect artifacts. And there are many tombs to be raided. The thumbsticks control the movement and the camera, the A button jumps, the Y button activates various contextual things such as doors or buttons and the X button shoots your grapple. The controls can be confusing at first, but you get used to them.

All of this serves you well jumping on ledges, grappling and pulling objects closer, scaling walls to dizzying heights, and solving puzzles. Puzzles are the meat and potatoes of the game. Every large room you go into, it a giant puzzles demanding that you solve it in order to gain the artifact, open a secret passage or defeat an enemy. The puzzles get very tricky, but basically consist of pulling levers, placing boxes on floor switches, and doing things in specific order to advance the story and gameplay. And if you get stuck, you can use the D-pad to pull out your trusty binoculars which will give you visual and auditory clues about the different things in the room to help you solve the puzzle.

The mechanics for Tomb Raider Legend are very good in that they can be forgiving when needed. Many times, I was a little off on a jump from a huge ledge and I still managed to land correctly or hit the object. If I was somewhat off, Lara would hang on with one arm and I was given the chance to quickly hit the Y button to right myself. If I did this successfully, great. If not, I would fall off. At least I was given the chance to land imperfect stunts instead of just falling to my doom.

One of the cool things about this game was a throwback to the original arcade version of Dragon's Lair. The game had some interactive cutscenes that forced you to hit buttons when certain things happened in the cutscene. Example: A giant boulder a la Indiana Jones is coming toward you. A large 'A' button appears on screen prompting you to hit that button. If you did it successfully, Lara will jump to a ledge that slowly begins to crumble. As she scrambles up, a large B button appears on screen. If you hit it in time, the grapple will attach and launch you to safety. All of this occurs within the context of a cutscene. It's very entertaining and fun.

In addition to the running, jumping, swimming, grappling, and other death-defying antics, the player can whip out guns and start blazing. Lock-on is done with the left trigger and firing is done with the right. The enemy AI consists of thugs and animals, and are pretty basic. They basically hide if being shot at, and attack if you are in range. Other than that, they are an annoyance at worst, and seem to be able to absorb a ridiculous amount of bullets in later levels. Thankfully, you are given the option of taking their gun, including a shotgun, a sub-machine gun or your two trusty pistols. The combat is a nice change of pace from the platform aspects of the game, but it gets boring very quickly.

The game itself is not very long but certainly long enough at about 10 hours. If someone gets bored, they can wander around Lara's mansion and explore. Players can also run, jump, and fly around her workout room. The mansion is an odd addition to the game, but doesn't add anything to the narrative. It is a curiosity indeed.

In all, I had a ton of fun playing this game. It was challenging, but not overly difficult. I always had to think about what to do, but was never so frustrated that I launched a controller. As far as gameplay goes, it was a blast.

•• Graphics ••
The graphics are a mixed bag. At first, Lara and the other character models are pretty basic. Certainly nothing that the original Xbox couldn't handle. I suspect the Lara model is a derivative of the PS version. She doesn't have that much detail in her face, even at close range. I did notice some interesting traits: She would get dirty after a while and the dirt would streak down her face after swimming. The Lara model while not exactly detailed, was very expressive, surprisingly so. The lip syncing was excellent and she had actual facial expressions. Very well done. Subtle, but well done.

The real next-gen graphics come from the environments. The world is huge and expansive, the walls deeply textured and detailed. Several times, I got a sense of unease as I made Lara scale the outside of a Japanese building. And then using her grapple, I had to make her swing out over a sheer drop? Holy crud. The environments in some places are massive, or at least give the very convincing illusion of that. As well, the environments are animated, detailed and colorful. The world in which Lara Croft exists is a lush playground and a pleasure to look at.

•• Sound ••
The sound didn't blow me away, but certainly did the job. The symphonic music in the game is a not overbearing, but does have a theme. Each country Lara visits has appropriate music, but none of it stands out as being particularly memorable.

The Voice-acting, however, is top notch. The person playing Lara did an excellent job at conveying different emotions including fear, anger, and determination. As mentioned before, the one-liners never come across as contrived and really add to the likability of this character. I would say that the voice-acting is far better than Angelina was able to do in the Tomb Raider movies. The enemy VO was also good and never drifted into the realm of being over the top or stereotypical. In all, excellent performances and proof that good acting can help bring out the characters which makes the game more fun to play.

•• Multiplayer ••
There is no multiplayer in this game

•• Achievements ••
The Achievements are pretty basic in the game. You get 50 points for each level and then a hundred or more for completing the game based on the difficulty setting. As well, you can get achievements for collecting gold, silver, and bronze statues through the game. These are hidden gems that you can collect if you veer off into hidden areas or make leaps of faith. I was able to get a few achievements for these, but not all. Achievement junkies should find much replay value in trying to find all of these statues.

•• Parents Should Know ••
If you let your kids watch Raiders of the Lost Ark, you're safe with this game. The violence is cartoony and void of any blood. There is no foul language and no sexuality except for Lara running around in a skimpy outfit with overly large breasts. On second thought, don't worry about keeping your kids away. Worry about your husband.

•• Conclusion ••
A fine game with challenging puzzles, good acting, excellent (if not mind-blowing) graphics, and engaging gameplay. Pick this one up.


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