Review by KFHEWUI

"Legend tries to breathe new life into the series, but does it succeed?"

After the Angel of Darkness incident, Eidos took the Tomb Raider license from CORE and gave it to Crystal Dynamics, and Legend was their first game to be released them. With the change of developer changes were going to happen to the series, but were these changes all good?

Tomb Raider Legend tells that when Lara was eight her plane crashed in the Himalayas, and she stumbled upon an altar that she activates. Suffice to say, this leads to the death of Lara's mother, and after Lara's mother's death, her father, an archeologist, kept Lara close by. After his death when Lara is eighteen, she decides to pick up after her father and go into archaeology, and her latest adventure will take her back to the incident when she was only eight years old.

Legend has a decent story that is fleshed and has a lot historical information, but the biggest problem is with continuity. There are some nice twists and turns that ends on a cliff hanger. Tomb Raider Legend would start up a storyline that continues in Underworld that creates a lot of plot holes in the original storyline. Not only this, but the biggest change was to Lara's character. The original games Lara was a spunky and observant girl, but in this game she comes off as cold hearted and even at one point in the game to be heartless. This change is completely out of characteristic and is unwelcomed.

One very unwelcome change is that Lara is no longer alone on her adventures, and she has Zip and Alistair whom will comment on situations from time to time. These two characters are flat out annoying, and they really ruin the atmosphere and mood of the game with their annoying and sometimes pointless banter.

Starting up the game, Legend looks great, and the textures are crisp and clean. The first level looks great and starts out with a barren rocky cliff with a beautiful waterfall then as the player progresses they will pass up a stream through decay ruins which look very nice. This leads up to a platform that floats over a giant waterfall. This nice variety helps break up the monotony and help give the impressive of progress. There is a texture glitch in the game where randomly a giant black box with bars will start flickering under the textures, and it does not cause any problems that I have seen however it is annoying.

The controls received an upgrade, and some of it was good while some is terrible. Movement is on the control pad and depending on how much pressure is put on the analog stick will determine if Lara runs or walk, and the camera controls have been move to the C-Stick this is a nice upgrade which gives the player complete control over the camera. Now everything else was changed, and jumping is still activated by a single button. How the button is pressed will determine what kind of jump Lara will do, and taping "A" will do a small leap while holding down "A" will cause her to do a farther jump. The rest of the control scheme is well laid out, and it is not too difficult and does not take too long to grasp the controls.

Lara has learned some new skills in Legend, and now she can use a grappling hook. The grappling hook is used for manipulating items, swinging across gaps, and pulling enemies closer. This new feature is a nice addition to the series.

Combat has seen a lot of refinement. Now Lara no longer has to draw and holster her gun and hitting "R" will result in Lara shooting. Holding "L" activates a lock on, but Lara will also naturally lock on to an enemy when she is close to them. Lara has also gained some new abilities, and she has new defensive skills like rolling and flipping. She can now use some melee attacks including a slide attack, power kick, jump kick, and aerial kick, but these new abilities only work on humans and not animals. In Legend Lara will be fighting more human enemies than animals, and the only animals are leopards which are rarely encountered.

One of the biggest changes to the game comes with the level design, and Legend does away with large and complex maze like levels to replace them with linear and short levels. There are still plenty of traps and puzzles, and there is a large variety of puzzles instead of just flipping switches and moving blocks. Lara will still have to jump, climb, and swim, but the puzzles now are much larger and some of them are complex and are the size of a room. In the first level, Lara has to use a rock like a see saw to throw two cages up on a ledge then push the cages on the switches. After that Lara still has to climb up a chain, scurry across ledges and a chain to reach the exit, and this help makes the puzzles feel natural and like they are a part of the environment. Lara also has a new ability to swing, and if Lara swings too early, she might barely make the jump. The player has to quickly hit "Y" so Lara will grab the ledge or she will fall.

Some new items include a binocular which really is not all that helpful, and a PDA which shows the number of secrets and stats. A flashlight that can be switched on and off, and Lara can also carry grenades and health kits however the game limits her to only three health kits at a time. Lara can now carry only two weapons at a time, and she can pick up weapons by pressing "Y" near the weapon.

Legend spans eight levels, and the last level is a repeat of the final area of the first level. The game spans different areas from Bolivia to Tokyo to the Himalayas, and a few of the levels have boss fights. Most of the fights are not too difficult and are completely forgettable except for the boss at the end of the Russian level which involves hitting switches and pulling a sword out of a machine.

QTE's are a new addition to the game which are not welcomed at all, and instead of these sequences being quick, they are slow and boring sequences that should have been removed. There also a few driving sequences in the game that help break up the monotony of the game, and one sequence Lara gets to use a forklift.

The music is fantastic and fits the mood, and there are a lot of nice moments of build of tension in the music. Sometimes the music will go low then player will activate a trap and the music jumps up with a booming tune that sent chills down my spine.

Tomb Raider does have a lot of replay value, and each level has secrets which unlock bonus content once they are all collected. Also beating the game on each difficulty unlocks bonus content, and there are times trials to unlock content. These content include outfits, concept art, object models, and cheat codes.

Legend does some things right, but it also does something's wrong. The difficulty is a weak, and even on the hard difficulty, the game offers up little challenge. Even with a broken C-Stick, I was still able to playthrough the game on hard without any trouble.

The camera can be troublesome, and it makes some of the jumps much harder. Another problem is the controls which are determined by the angle of the camera. If Lara is looking at the camera when the player hits down and jump, Lara will jump towards the camera instead of jumping away which extremely awkward and frustrating. The lock on system is also affected by the camera, and unless the enemy is in front of Lara with her looking at the enemy then it will not work when the player hits "L".

Tomb Raider Legend is a decent game, and while it does add some nice additions, it still rough in certain areas that derail the fun.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 07/25/12, Updated 04/29/13

Game Release: Tomb Raider: Legend (US, 11/14/06)

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