Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend Reader Review
Tomb Raider was the game that got me into video games in my early 20's. I had not played a game since my early to mid teens and it was Sony's grey box that convinced me that maybe games were not the pastime of anoraks and Tomb Raider was the first game I bought. Well it blew me away in a way that no other game with the exception of Halo has since, games were 3d and they were cool!
The first Tomb Raider wasn't perfect but it had the x factor and everybody loved it. Tomb raider 2 was arguably better and I stopped playing after completing number 3 as the series took a direction that simply failed to grab me, what happened? Well in my opinion Tomb Raider stopped being Tomb Raider and became more about Lara Croft, I didn't like exploring an oil rig or an Opera house I wanted to explore tombs and seek out ancient relics and Tomb Raider stopped doing that. So along comes Tomb Raider Legend (TRL) and in the build up it all looked good with the developer making all the right noises regarding returning to Lara's roots and the return of her creator Toby Gard. At the time of release my work saw me travelling a lot so I waited for the PSP version and when it arrived Oh Dear! It looked great but the combination of the controls and camera made it almost unplayable which was a real shame and it appeared my Tomb Raiding days were over for the time being, but then I woke up one day and decided out of complete impulse to buy an xbox 360 and when I did I couldn't resist giving Lara one last go. The combination of mediocre reviews and my PSP experience meant my expectations were low and it sat sealed in it's box as I ducked and covered my way through Gears of War until I finally decided to play it and boy was I glad that I did.
Let's get the bad news out of the way which is that as with the original Tomb Raider all is not perfect. It is obvious that this is an xbox/ps2 game that has been tarted up for the 360, this is both good and bad as firstly you cannot describe it as a true next-gen game, maybe current-gen and a half but secondly it whets the appetite of what will be possible when the game is developed primarily for the 360 and PS3. There are also too many people in the game and this along with headset feed to tweedle dumb and tweedle dee back at croft manor does destroy the sense of isolation and exploration that TR1 gave you in spades, it is also a bit much when you swan dive, climb, shimmy and swing to get to a location only to find the bad guys already there in large numbers - couldn't Lara have got there the same way they did? My penultimate gripe is the size of the levels, they are very nice but all are small and can be completed quite quickly with nothing to compare to say St Frances folly or the Great pyramid from TR1 which leads me onto my final point which is that the game is far too short (a trend in many recent games RPG's apart) and can be completed in 7-8 hours.
Onto the positives which is that as with the first game despite it's flaws TRL is great fun from start to finish and feels like meeting up with an old friend. After 5 minutes I found myself drawn in just as I was 10 years ago, the controls feel just right and are both fast and responsive, the atmosphere is good and the game does look great with some really nice touches that the ps2 or xbox just could not handle, the puzzles are fun without being overly taxing but do get you thinking at times. I also really like the checkpoint system, I think I was in the minority of really liking the original TR's save system and whilst I agree that the blue diamond looked a little out of place it helped with the pacing of the game and I felt worked really well, the checkpoint system in TRL does exactly the same apart from not being able to see where and when they are coming of course. The story is hardly Oscar worthy but holds the action together well, there is a mix of ancient and sci-fi that runs through this game and the series and I'd like to see them push this further in future games, another planet a-la Stargate maybe? There are some great possibilities for sure if it was done right.
Overall TRL is a great experience and if you were a fan of the original but not it's sequals then this will restore your faith in Lara and give you hope of what's to come. What is to come for sure is a remake of the original on PS2 and PSP which I am very much looking forward to and I just hope that the PSP version is playable this time otherwise I will miss out. Beyond that it is reasonable to assume that a true next generation game is in development and the quality of Legend means I am now confident that Lara is in great hands.
8 / 10