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Marklar2k6
12th Apr 2006, 11:59
Tomb Raider: Legend
THE REVIEW

After taking a long awaited shower to remove the tarnished stain AOD left on Miss Croft’s large a lustrous career, she’s back to make amends in her seventh console outing, Tomb Raider: Legend.
Having ogled at screenshots from the game for some months leading up to TRL’s inevitable release, it’s no surprise that this is something to be marvelled at visually. The colours are gorgeous and the textures so incredibly detailed that you could fill a photo album with award-winning-tourist-like snapshots that are simply breath-taking. This is helped by the numerous exotic locations that we visit during the story. Mouth-watering renditions of Bolivia, Peru and Ghana give birth to some memorable landscaping, while other levels such as Japan and England thrust the player into a darker, but no less juicy array of scenic feasting for the eyes. Even Lara herself gives new Croft model, Karima Adebibe, a reason to pout jealously. She dons an incredible amount of realism, looking better than ever. Her new legend attire will darken when wet and her skin will now glisten under the sun to add to the effect. Sweet attentions to detail like this are the icing on the cake when it comes to visuals.

With a lust for stunning eye-candy aside, have new developers Crystal dynamics managed to sort out the all-important control system once and for all? Yes and No. Gamers will be pleased to hear that TRL is so easy to control and get to grips with that even novice players will find they can shoot, swing, climb and jump through the game’s linear structure with ease. Lara handles like a dream, but CD have perhaps simplified things just a little too much. It wont take you long to master the control system, and once you do, you’ll have little difficulty working your way to the end of the game.

The levels are far from challenging, a dramatic change from previous instalments like TR3 and Revelation, that were criticized by many for being too difficult. Gone are the days of standing in an impressively sizable room, scratching your head trying to remember which way you came in, and working out where that switch was that you passed ten minutes ago. The levels are instead, broken up into various sections, with handy checkpoints that activate automatically at various intervals. When you eventually choose to save your game, it will save your progress up to the last checkpoint you passed and no further. The system takes away that fear of dying, so there’ll be no moments of madness where you throw your joypad across the room whilst hurling abuse at every inanimate object that’s unfortunate enough to be in close vicinity.
The puzzle elements of the game are also simplified somewhat. Everything you need to get an ancient mechanism up and running, or open a certain door, will generally be close by. In the odd time that this doesn’t occur, the way forward is annoying spelled out for us with cut scenes or speech, taking away the thinking that was so prominent in earlier outings. Even dispatching various groups of mercenaries that pursue Lara through her adventure is nothing more than a workout for our heroine, but is no less fun because of it. The battles are fairly action-packed and exhilarating, giving the player a nice change of pace to keep them on their toes. This can be said for the various boss battles too, which require a certain strategy all of their own and could prove for many to be the most taxing element of Legend. Another cool element of gameplay is the newly implemented reaction sequences that were also seen in RE4. These are dotted around the game at random moments when you are least expecting it, and require the player to press a sequence of buttons correctly in time with the action, to safely guide Lara through various hair-raising moments. Get it wrong, and the British vixen will meet her untimely demise in a somewhat humorous fashion, causing you to resume the game at the previous checkpoint.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Tomb Raider without a vehicle or two. In Legend we are greeted by the infamous Ducati motorcycle and the not so infamous…*ahem*…fork-lift truck. The Bike sequences are filled to the brim with action, and are a nice touch, which help break up a few levels. They see Lara battling it out with enemy bikes and jeeps which can be fired upon using her trusty pistols.

The game’s musical score is adequate and atmospheric, but apart from the new title theme, there’s nothing epic enough to match those memorable moments from the earlier Tomb Raiders. It’s beautiful to listen to at times and in others, quite repetitive. You can easily play through parts of the game and forget about the score entirely since it doesn’t drive home a nostalgic impact that hardcore fans have come to expect and desire. The delightful tunes and eerie spine-tingling ambience are passable, but nothing to write home about.

Throughout Legend’s exciting and fluent gameplay, we follow a strong storyline headed by a pleasant cast of new and old faces. Alister, a University boffin and Zip, the tech expert help Lara throughout her journey, communicating via headsets to relay information and support to Crofty. The adventure starts with Lara in search of a “unique” South-American relic in Bolivia. Soon after, her search takes her all over the world, forcing her to delve deep into her past and discover some unknown truths that until now have remained secret. As usual, there’s always someone trying to get in her way, and Legend provides us with more than a couple of memorable adversaries. Throw in the discovery of an ancient Tomb that proves the validity of an old English myth and we’re set for an absolute gem of a storyline. A joyous and pant-wettingly-tense ending scene later, and we’re left asking more questions than were answered.

Luckily it does have a fair amount of replay value, and those clever enough to find the many hidden secrets on each level will be rewarded with added content such as character biographies, object models and costumes. The latter being a most welcomed bonus. That in mind, the neat extras do leave a substantial reason for the greedy among us, to return for second, third and fourth helpings.
There’s no doubt that TRL is a beautiful achievement and an absolute joy to play. Its only real flaw is being criminally short, but boy is it sweet. When’s the next one out……?

Verdict 85%

(Feel free to leave any comments you have)

Marklar