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16th Mar 2006, 17:02
Tomb Raider: Legend Updated Hands-On

We get our hands on a near-finished version of Lara's next adventure and play through some of the early levels.

If you've been following our previous coverage of Tomb Raider: Legend, you'll know that we've been very much looking forward to getting our hands on something other than a demo of the game and spending some quality time with it. Our wish was granted earlier this week when we took delivery of a near-finished Xbox 360 version of the game, and we've subsequently played through the first four of its dozen or so levels in order to get a feel for its storyline (which we won't be spoiling for you) and for some of the very different environments that you'll get to explore. Specifically, we've played through the first level set in Bolivia in its entirety for the first time, visited Peru both in the present day and in a playable flashback level, and pitted Lara's skills against those of the Yakuza in Tokyo.

Since this is the first time that we've had the opportunity to spend any length of time with the Xbox 360 version of Tomb Raider: Legend, it'll likely come as no surprise to you that the first thing we noticed was simply how good it looks. The Bolivian environment in which Lara's adventure gets underway is one that we've seen on other platforms previously, but even on a regular 4:3 TV the improved visuals were difficult to ignore. As in previous Tomb Raider game environments, even the most organic locales have no shortage of right angles and perfectly straight edges to facilitate Lara's climbing and acrobatics, but the difference is that in Tomb Raider: Legend their appearance rarely detracts from the overall look of the game. Normal-mapping techniques and great lighting make even the most geometrically sound rock formations look like the work of Mother Nature on the Xbox 360, and you'll find that the results are more impressive still if you're in a position to take advantage of the game's high-definition and widescreen options. Of particular note is the water in the game, which looks almost as impressive in puddles and small pools as it does in fast-flowing rivers and waterfalls.

Although we'd played through portions of the Bolivia and Peru levels before, having the opportunity to do so again made it clear that the game's visuals aren't the only area that's benefited from some developer love in the last month or two. Areas that were devoid of enemies the last time we played, for example, were now home to vicious jaguars, and we also had a lot of fun searching for the bronze, silver, and gold secret items that are now hidden throughout every level. The bronze through gold naming of the secret items is a reference to how difficult they'll be to find, so while many of the bronze secrets are difficult to miss during the course of just playing through a level, you'll definitely need to explore and stray from the most obvious path in order to locate the silver and gold ones. Besides adding an additional layer of challenge to the game, the secret items on the Xbox 360 will be one of a few different ways that you can earn achievement points, along with beating the game on different difficulty settings, and playing through individual levels against the clock. It's conceivable that the secret items we collected might also have contributed to the number of bonus features we unlocked at the end of each level, which included art galleries, movies, and different outfits for Lara.

READ MORE... (http://www.gamespot.com/xbox/action/tombraidervii/news.html?sid=6146043)

Don't forget the video review (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?t=57289) tonight at 7pm EST. Thanks to LLC for the "heads up".

16th Mar 2006, 17:57
See? It's great to see when someone approaches the game unbiased and is positive about the game.

Given that the game's gymnastics and puzzles are unlikely to change according to your chosen difficulty level, it stands to reason that the main differences between the easiest and hardest settings will be the strength of enemies and the number of first aid and ammo pick-ups available. The game will also become progressively more difficult as you get further into it, of course.

I agree with this as well.