Tomb Raider: Legend Review

I’ll say straight up – I’m not a fan of Tomb Raider games.

Progressing through miles and miles of level to screw up for just pressing the jump button a bit too soon, then falling down a crevice, then having to go back and do the same thing again another 10 or more times isn’t my idea of exhilarating excitement, before I discover by accident that I wasn’t meant to be jumping in that direction at all. Any combat is shallow and pointless. It’s an exercise in timing and luck, and the gaming industry’s oldest enemy “Frustrator” rears his familiar face.

Tomb Raider Legend is the 7th of 9 titles in the series (the 9th being the eagerly awaited Tomb Raider Underworld). It’s gone a long way to address the issues mentioned above:

Your “backup” team give you advice. Constantly. Your progress is saved regularly. The combat has been given added depth by the addition of sliding tackles, jumps (with bullet time, of course, what did you expect, real time? n00b) and side kicks, as well as the staple shooting with infinite ammo.

The puzzle solving has evolved too: it’s generally fairly easy to see what you need to do at a given time. There are exceptions, for instance when you’re doing battle with a giant black demon and you have to turn a gravity-gun on these four blocks on the wall that opens a container directly above you that you can use your grapple hook to pull a magical stone out of… I got somewhat stuck as to why the monster, that was taking damage, was just regenerating it. I had to take the stone out to progres! Of course! A bit of explanation would have been useful here.

If I seem unclear as to exactly what the stone, the demon, and the blocks are exactly it’s because I am unclear. That brings me onto my next point: the story has been revamped and includes all manner of arcane nonsense about King Arthur’s sword Excalibur and the cutscenes (skippable, thank God, they’re usually between a checkpoint and a hard part) are well scripted and executed. I say “arcane nonsense” but it definitely serves to drive the story forward and to a wide variety of locations: Kazakhstan, Nepal and Cornwall.

“As in take the M5 to the A30 Cornwall?” Lara asks incredulously, as I admire the improvements in script.

Tomb Raider Legend definitely still suffers from the problems that have always marred the series but the puzzles are original enough, the combat deep enough, and the game presented well enough to make converts of many nay-sayers and bring back the fans that were lost by the atrocity otherwise known as “Angel of Darkness”. If you liked the original Tomb Raiders then you’ll love this. If you want to try to expand away from your usual diet of shootyshooty action games and maimymaimy bloodandguts then pick this up and give it a try.

- John

And yes, I did a whole review without once commenting on her chest. Marvellous.

About John

INX's resident professional games designer!
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