Review by ShadowGuardian9
"Is it a legend? Nope."
Back in the days of the Playstation, a spunky young woman entered the video game world and brought a brand new adventure to gamers everywhere. Lara Croft of the Tomb Raider series was that woman. The Tomb Raider series hasn't had a major update in years, and now it's time for Miss Croft to reenter the video game world with a brand new adventure. Does Tomb Raider Legend give new light to the series?
The graphics in Tomb Raider Legend are pretty disappointing. Yes, the levels themselves have a good bit of polish. The skies and lush foliage are well-rendered and the environments do look well-done. The big problem, however, is in their variety. You will be going through many different ruins that, sadly, look very much alike. Most of the design is put into structure, and while that is good, the cosmetic detail is low. It would've been great to see some more variety in the game's graphics, and while some do depart from the norm (like a good outside skyscraper mission), the entire level system feels repetitive and boring. Another major issue is that there's plenty of glitches. Collision detection is sloppy, and you will find Lara missing a jump due to the messy collision detection. It seems that the only real update in the graphics is Lara herself. She does look much better than in past games, now having some more realistic facial expressions and movements. Different environments do alter Lara's appearance. The graphics in Tomb Raider Legend aren't really bad, but the glitches and lack of variety are disappointing. As a current-gen game, especially one made this late in the generation, Tomb Raider Legend doesn't follow the Xbox's hardware capabilities, and that's a shame.
As far as audio goes, Tomb Raider Legend is a pretty so-so performance. Lara Croft herself is voiced pretty well, outside of some minor mishaps. Lara's short quips during gameplay are well done and do a decent job of showing her personality. The other characters, however, aren't performed as well. Many accents feel forced and they just don't have incredible dialogue. There are many cutscenes, so the voice-acting is a well-sized experience. Music is pretty rare, but sound effects are surprisingly fluid. Interacting with different environment aspects does trigger some good sound effects. Audio in Tomb Raider Legend is average.
Tomb Raider did a good job in introducing some new gameplay elements to the adventure genre when it first debuted. After a few installments, however, it seems that Miss Croft's legacy is beginning to fade. Tomb Raider Legend, despite some good moments, isn't a particularly engaging experience.
The story focuses around a slew of events of Lara Croft's past. Apparently, an ancient artifact has a curse that ruined her childhood, and Lara is out to discover its hidden secrets. The story is extremely generic, and doesn't do much to distinguish itself from other adventure titles.
The controls are a mesh of good and bad. The A button is used to jump, B to crouch and roll, X to throw the grapple, and Y to interact with the environment. The D-Pad has a nifty assortment of abilities, like health packs, binoculars, and switching weapons. Weapons follow an L-Trigger lock, and the R-Trigger to shoot. Some interesting quirks begin with the Y button, which can be used during combat and will have to be used if Lara loses her grip. Also, pressing the Y button in rhythm with Lara's movements (like climbing a rope or swimming) will allow you to move faster. The context-sensitive use of the Y button is actually pretty cool. The controls are actually pretty solid, but there comes across a time when they begin to deteriorate.
That problem is the ridiculously erratic camera. Controlled with the right analog stick, the camera is the biggest problem in the entire game. The control is just too sensitive. You will turn the camera to one side, only to have it go too far. The horrific camera angles combined with some enclosed environments and Lock-on make the entire view skewed and unsteady. The entire game becomes less fun thanks to this problem. The camera control is far too sensitive for this type of game.
The level design is pretty well done. Each level has some unique puzzles in each room, using some slick Prince of Persia-style acrobatics to tie every puzzle together. Some are a bit tedious, but overall, each puzzles flows together well. Fetch quests are few and far between, thankfully; most of the game consists of just figuring out what to do and accomplishing it. The level design isn't as original or fluid as Prince of Persia, but it does have enough quirks to keep gameplay from being too repetitive.
Combat is so-so. Lara's gunplay abilities are limited, but not too much. Using the R-Trigger to shoot and L-Trigger to lock on, Lara can move about the environments pretty well, although the camera remains a constant problem. Lara has some nice bullet-time moves when close to an enemy and taking out a crowd is challenging enough to be a multi-try deal, while not being overly cheap. Some interesting tricks include the Y button. Lara can pick up weapons on the fly with it, can do some up-close melee abilities, man weapons, among others. The coolest is probably the ability to shoot environment objects to damage enemies. The Y icon will appear and pressing it can make barrels explode or giant screens to topple on enemies. The use of context-sensitive abilities dimensionalizes the combat and is a welcome addition to the game.
Some interesting cinematic sequences also make an appearance. At times, the game pans out to a different camera angle and Lara must race against an oncoming object to avoid the dangerous consequences. These sequences do provide some neat moments, like running from a monster or giant stone ball. The game's cutscenes do provide some Resident Evil 4-style interaction, which does keep you on edge when the times get tough. These interactions aren't very deep, as they coordinate with the controls exactly, but they are pretty cool to watch and participate in. Overall, the gameplay does move forward with some cool additions, but a poor camera and lack of truly original concepts makes the gameplay less than stellar.
Replay Value 5/10
There's not much to do at all once the story is done. You can collect hidden artifacts in each level, but overall, the story just isn't worth playing all over again. A Time Attack mode is included, but that's too little too late after messing with an uncooperative camera. This game screams "rental".
Final Verdict 6/10
Tomb Raider Legend is a disappointment. Lara Croft's legacy as a popular video game character is beginning to fade and no better proof is this game. In the extremely short amount of time you complete this game, you will have mixed emotions to the result. At one point you'll be cheering after taking out a slew of enemies or figuring out a complex puzzle. At another you'll be missing jumps due to a sloppy camera and poor collision detection. For each step Tomb Raider Legend takes, it takes another back, leaving a shell of a franchise behind. There are things to love in Lara Croft's latest adventure: the Prince of Persia-style gameplay and solid gunplay are some highlights. However the technical problems, erratic camera, and short length will keep this game out of your collection. Rent this game if it looks good to you, but avoid purchasing this game.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 05/09/06
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