Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Release Date: 4/11/2006
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The Good: Revives the series from its tomb, great graphics, audio, and a decent story, everything that was broke is now fixed
The Bad: Camera is retarded in cramped places, driving sections are punishing, city levels are odd, typical combat, story held together by threads, shorter than Lara’s shorts
Ahhh…here we are again with the cunning, brave, smart, posh, sexy, and beautiful Lara Croft. Most people overlook the game when they see a half-naked chick on the cover, but Tomb Raider is one of the few (only?) “chick” games that are actually good. Everyone and their mothers have heard of Tomb Raider or Lara Croft as being “the game about shooting animals in ruins and sex” so if you’re reading this you’re either a fan or one of the latter. While Tomb Raider has absolutely nothing to do with anything sexual Lara’s skimpy style can contradict that.
The series has always been known for its intricate puzzles, great platforming, and beautiful tombs, ruins, and vistas to explore. Tomb Raider: Legend is the first TR game since the PSX days to be actually good and worth playing. With the first 2 TR games being great the series started falling with 3, got saved with 4 (The Last Revelation) and just went down hill with 5 (Chronicles), and 6 (Angel of Darkness). TRL revives the series by feeling familiar and redoing everything we’ve grown to love. The game’s story is also very interesting and mainly for fans of Lara who want to know more about HER past. Lara is trying to find the pieces of the Excalibur sword that killed her mother and she runs into ghosts of her past that come back to haunt her. While the story is teeter tottering on the edge of bleh it does get interesting and saves itself at the end with a twist. TR has not been famous for its stories so let’s get right into the adventuring! The game seems to have tried too hard to bring the series back since the game is really short (6 hours you can beat the game) and there are too many levels to explore, so you don’t get a lot of feeling for one level.
Everything about TR’s platforming is still here so you can either stop reading now or carry on if you are a skeptical action/adventure fan trying to find a new series to get into because you’re bored. The whole game is about puzzles that use the environment and hanging, swinging, jumping, pole climbing, rope swinging, zip lining all about. Most of the game is pretty easy to figure out on where to go since you get a grapple that lets you pull boxes off ledges, bring certain things down to climb across, you even use it to swing across chasms. A lot of items you use with the grapple hook has a gold shiny bit on it so you know to grapple there otherwise you’d spend hours trying to grapple every object in the game. A lot of puzzles are usually lever and switch puzzles with you pulling statues onto this pressure switch to lower this bridge to pull this block across onto this switch to raise the gate. Most are simple, but some are unique and fun that have you climbing huge cliffs, walls, and statues to push giant balls (hooha!) off ledges to use down below. A lot of the platforming is fun and awesome with ledges crumbling away, swinging across poles onto ropes etc.
Not one situation is the same and that’s what is so great about the TR series; you’ll have something new to figure out. Jumping around these beautiful environments is easy thanks to the responsive controls, great animations, and good camera (most of the time). When you jump to a ledge and there’s a wall behind you the camera will swing out to the side so you can see the whole 30 foot pillar you’re supposed to climb. This works with every type of situation and the camera does a good job following you. The only time it gets weird is when you’re in tight spaces then the camera doesn’t know what to do and has seizures. You wind up exploring places such as Japan, Bolivia, Nepal, Kazakhstan and other places. These range from jungles, dark tombs, snow, and even the city. What I found odd was Lara climbing around in buildings like in Japan (she wears a damn sexy dress in that level), and a military base in Kazakhstan so this can be weird for long time fans. The whole things fits well, but it just seems out-of-place compared to past games.
The combat is also the second thing you’ll be doing the most and while it’s easy, repetitive, and not amazing it works and you won’t get annoyed. You just lock onto an enemy and fire away with your pistols, machine guns, or shotguns you find lying around off of enemies. If you get too hurt you can use health packs lying around as well. While you’ll spend most of your time fighting brain-dead enemies that just stand there and fire at you can use the objects in the environment to kill enemies like barrels, tanks, and even snappings things to make them fall. So while the combat is nothing interesting or fantastic it’s there and it works well for what the game can offer. The camera stays behind you well enough when you’re locked on, but Lara will lock onto enemies off-screen a wee bit too often force you to target them yourself.
A new part of TR are the motorcycle driving sections. These can be fun and annoying since the physics are a bit weird and the checkpoints are punishing. You just shoot baddies off their bikes while you go off jumps and make your way through. Another added idea are button pressing cinematics and these are cool to look at and are a lot of fun. What make them so fun is why you have to do them. A lot of the times it’ll be the most intense part of the game so you really get into it. The boss fights are also another cool part about the game since they are a bit easy, but they are big and cool so you’ll have tons of fun with that.
Now that we have two main elements out-of-the-way let’s talk about cosmetics. Lara’s whole appearance has changed and she looks so much better. Gone are her sunglasses, and the F size boobs, along with her usual outfit. Lara has different outfits she wears throughout the game and they are all hot, sexy, and they make Lara look smart and sharp as well. Her breast size has been reduced to DD (boohoo…), her main outfit is now a brown belly top with shorts and I prefer this over the old. She wears an earpiece now and she no longer has a braided ponytail. Along with Lara looking amazing she also gets dirty and wet (ohhh if only…). When she climbs out of the water her clothes look wet, and dirt sticks to her as well so this adds to the realism. She also has a personal light now so exploring dark places is no longer a problem. The sound is also great with Lara’s charming British accent, and everyone’s voice acting is top-notch.
With new characters aplenty you’ll expect to like them all, but actually you won’t. They are underdeveloped and wind up annoying you with their stupid comments over the radio so the only character you’ll love is Lara. Apart from all of this the game has replay value with a time trial mode, Croft Manor (where you unlock certain areas to get rewards), and cheats. Doing all of this will grant you new costumes, concept art, profiles and more. So, as you can see, there is so much to love about TRL and fans who have hated the series can come back since TR is getting better and better as time goes back. Give the ‘ol girl a second chance and explore her tombs (awww yeah…)