Tomb Raider Legend
Written by Mole, 21 June 2006
A long long time ago, in a snowy mountain far away, there was a rather nasty accident. Lara and her mother were aboard a plane, which came crashing down to earth like thunder. It crash landed in Nepal. Having managed to both escape the plane, Lara and her mother headed for shelter in a cavern, and stumbled upon some very interesting things indeed. A sword in stone. Lara's curiosity gets the better of her and before you can sling a cat at a cow, Lara's mother gets sucked away in to some unknown lands.

Skip ahead a few centuries, and we find Lara halfway up a mountain, without climbing gear, I might add, somewhere in the midst of Bolivia. And thus the adventure begins.

First impressions of the game are usually all about the graphics, purely because that's all you see. In this case, there is no exception. The graphics are very attractive. Nice smooth lines, not too many jaggies, but then, I would expect no less on an Xbox 360. A few things could be improved but that would just be being picky.

So it all comes down to the controls. Now, Hardcore TR fans will be thrown off by this for about half of the first level. The change is quite drastic, especially if you are a console gamer and are used to the usual layout. Long gone are the days of jumping left to right, forward and backward to dodge bullets. Instead, they are replaced with a very very nice dodging system, which allows you to fling around like a fool whilst dodging bullets and perform front/backslaps. I have to say, It's very fun and very useful on those bosses.

Shooting is new as well, she'll still automatically aim, but you have to hold in a trigger to keep your guns out. Letting go will holster the guns.

Now on to the good bit. Jumping. This is where the game shines so much more than it's predecessors. No more will you have to "Walk to the edge, Tap backwards, now run forward and hold the jump key. Immediately after, press and hold the action key and I'll grab the ledge". Instead, You can just run at it like a mad man and fling your self across the gap. Lara will automatically grab edges that she can reach. If that's not enough, let's say there's a nearby shimmy space. You can then fling your self at that and wait for it... TURBO shimmy across there. Then back flip to a pole, jump from that to the next ledge, then jump up to a higher ledge (Yes, from a vertical face) and land neatly on the top, all in the space of a few second.

You can make this game flow like water down a stream with a bit of practice. Which is handy, because with the return of the (now changed) Croft manor, you can get in to the Gym and have a blast with it.

Weaponry isn't too bad, but you'll probably stick to just 2 different types of guns. Your pistols and rifle. They have a grenade launcher and shotgun, but I personally didn't find them useful. I can throw grenades with ease, and the shotgun was pointless due to the new combat system.

Which leads me neatly on to, the new combat system. Shooting aside, Lara can now land a swift kick on her opponent. But it gets better. Run at them and hit the B button and you'll slide at them, knocking them flying Devil May Cry-style in to the air, to be blown away. Or, run at them and press the jump button, you'll bounce of their chest into a bullet time style mode where yout shots are more accurate and do extra damage - enabling you to take out a couple of enemies before you hit the floor and bullet time ends. If you really want to annoy the enemy, run and jump at them just the same but press the dodge button and you'll do a rather nasty flying kick at them. All with good reason, of course!

Unfortunately, the enemy AI is terrible. Even in hard mode, they posed no challenge. So you'll merely be having fun with them for a while, maybe even finding yourself running past them too.

The level designs are lovely. Especially the ruin and temple style levels. In fact, the outdoor levels are generally great too. You'll find yourself flinging over perilous drops, swinging around the edges of buildings or climbing huge statues inside dark caves. There are the usual (though nowhere near as frustrating) block puzzles every once in a while, but this time the game tends to be more logical. For instance, for one of the first gold secrets you have to raise a large door, which is on a latch. However, raising the large door blocks the way to the secret. In order to get it, you raise the door halfway, remove the block off the pressure pad, and the latch keeps the door where it is. Then you climb up the door to reap the rewards.

The real downfall level-wise is the linear paths. You have one way through it, and that's it. Also, the indoor levels start to feel a little cramped, with all the freedom of the great outdoors.

Another new addition to the game is interactive cinematics. Or, Shenmue fans may call them QTE's (Quick Timer Events) in which something bad happens, and a button appears on screen and you have to react. You might get caught out by the odd one of these, but it's nothing to worry about - if you die you get brought back in right before the QTE, to try again.

The games biggest downfall is it's size. This game can be completed in less that 5 hours if you push it, I'd give it a 9-11 hours for the first time, just in case you get stuck in one or two spots and spend some time figuring out what's wrong. Simply put, the game is much too short. Another 5, maybe more levels, would have been acceptable, but alas. For such a brilliantly reinvented game, we can't be picky.

Extras include many unlockables, things like more powerful pistols, fun cheats, extra costumes and tons of artwork/in game models etc. Time Trial mode is good fun too.

Replay value isn't too bad, actually. The game isn't long or hard, so you'll probably find yourself completing hard mode, time trial mode and going back to get the secrets. Especially as you get extra gamer score on the 360 for this. So you might end up playing it through 4 times!

Is the game worth 50? (360 cost) My answer is no. It would be if it was longer, but it's just too short. The only benefit to the 360 one is superior graphics (just - which are easily obtainable on the PC) and the fact you can net 1000 gamerscore with just an evening or two to spare. Get the game, but don't pay 50. Many internet sites do 360 games for 40 or less. Rent it if you want.

Still, a great game, well worth a look.

Tomb Raider Legend
Replay Value