Tomb Raider Legend
Lara Croft is still one of the most well-known game-icons. While she started leading her own life and become more and more successful as babe and culture phenomenon her games started going downhill after the first ones. The quality of the gameplay evolved opposite of the growth of her boobs, with as absolute depth Angel of Darkness. This time the makers didn’t only promise a return to the roots of the series but also a smaller cup. And thàt was was lead us to believe that Crystal Dynamics had the correct goal in mind.
And don’t think they only put up their goals correct, but also their final product, Tomb Raider Legend is a shot in the bullseye. The makers succeeded to completely bring the original gamepay up to date, refresh it and add a ton of variation to it. Eventhough this killed off lone and long explorations, you constantly get clues through your headset from a colleague, these decisions made that Lara is completely back.
The environments are smaller but are filled with intense moments, interesting, challenging but never frustrating puzzles, and missions that will force you to very enjoyable acrobatics. On top of that all this sweetness gets varied with cut-scenes that progress the story and moviescenes where your input is necessary to bring dangerous situations to a good ending. Think here about the interactive moviepieces of Resident Evil 4.
Graphically you won’t feel let down either. There’s tons of atmosphere present, something little games manage to bring over as good as this Tomb Raider Legend. The ruins are as mystique and mysterious as ever, but also the other locations (including your own little mansion, a lab filled with experimental gear and a frozen temple) will convince you and not only because of their technical aspects (look at the hair-sharp textures). This is why we play games: to amuse ourselves and get astonished!
Not only here did the creators hit the nail right onto its head. Even more impressive is the way they managed to preserve the – currently quite oldfashioned – gameplay and in the meantime improved it. Lara sticks to your fingers: so fluent, natural and intuitive. In no time you get the moves – piece by piece accompanied with beautiful animations without apparent overflows between the different moves – swiftly under control.
Two small innovations show their enormous value here: the chance to regrapple with a quick push of a button and the possibility to speed up your move by pushing the Y-button on the rythm of those moves. A gift from God in games where navigating is of the utmost importance and where dynamic cameras are present.
Other innovation is your grapple hook with which you can make even more fun and spectacular moves, and also back are the fire fights and chase scenes where you get to do killer moves on the motorbike.
We of course also have to say something about the physics in the game. The same respect needs to be shown here for the way these were subtly – but not less intervening – integrated in the puzzles and Lara’s interaction with the world around here. Both the player as Croft are put in the world itself and no longer glued on it. For once you’ll have to use your brains and it helps that the immersion is pushed up this way.
Although Legend also has its flaws, like the shooting parts and race-intermezzos being all but impressive or deep, you have to admire the love and attention for detail with which the game was made. Old concepts were made relevant again with the necessary innovations but especially also with a lot of variation and care for integration and finishing of all elements, both on gameplay, graphics and sound. If you’re still in doubt: Lara is more elegant, balanced and elastic than ever and she’s ready for a whole series of new and enchanting adventures!