Tomb Raider: Legend Review (Xbox 360)

Seeing as my reviews of the Assassins Creed series is done, I can move on to different games to review and for this review I’ve selected to do Tomb Raider: Legend. I have to say that I’ve always been a fan of the Tomb Raider games, although I have to admit that I first started playing them when I was young, but seeing as I was young not to mention I got scared really easily, I never really got past the training levels of the TR games (heck I even had nightmares about the butler in TR I, II, III. I know, sounds wimpy, but I was 10 when I got my first copies.)Still this review is about TR: Legend, so I’m going to stop ranting about childhood memories and get on with it.

So Legend has been developed by Crystal Dynamics instead of the normal Core Design and it was published by Eidos Interactive (currently known as Square Enix). The game was released back in April 2006 for the PS 2, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, Nintendo Ds, Gamecube, Gamecube advance, PC and mobile phones and as with all TR games, this one is labelled an 3rd person action/adventure game.

 

The story

The story starts with a flasLarahback and you’re introduced to Lara at age 9. She and her mother Amelia got in a plane crash in Nepal and as young Lara looks for firewood, she comes across an ancient dais with a sword in it. When she accidentally touched the device, it got activated and her mother disappeared in a flash of light. I suppose this is what inspired Lara to be an archaeologist as we get a flashback in the game which shows one of Lara’s trips with her university friends but this one ended in disaster and a close friend of Lara, Amanda, got buried in the collapsing rubble and drowned as a result of it. In present day, Lara has found clues when it comes to the sword and the dais that lead to her mother’s disappearance and as she investigates this, she’s becomes aware of the fact that her mother probably didn’t die and she finds clues that her friend Amanda may not have died in Peru. So this leads Lara across Bolivia, Peru, Japan, Ghana, Kazakhstan, England and Nepal in order to find out what happened to her mother.

 

The Evolution of Lara

Seeing as I’m reviewing TRL, I feel the need to explain a little about the evolution of Lara Croft seeing as this game wasn’t developed by Core Design but by Crystal Dynamics.

So let’s take a dive back into the past and head for 1996 which marked the release of the first TR game. Lara was designed by Toby Gard of Core Design; the intention behind her design was to counter stereotypical female characters. The original backstory for Lara was that she was born to Lord Richard Croft and was raised as an aristocrat. Because of a plane crash, she got stranded in the Himalayas, forcing her to survive until she was rescued and this leads her to be an archaeologist and seek out adventure.

This concept worked for the original games. There would be an evil organization or power that Lara would have to race to reach a powerful artefact, on the way though, you have to kill dangerous creatures (animals or mummies or whatever the setting called for) and on occasion you would have to take down humans to be able to succeed. As well as the action, you’re acquired to use your brain to solve puzzle in order to make progress through the levels. This concept worked perfectly for the first 4 games, but because of the success and the resulting pressure that the development team got, they decided to kill off Lara at the end of Last Revelation (by burying her alive underneath a collapsing pyramid), despite this though, there was a 5th game released and this one was based on a series of flashbacks. The basis of this game was that friends of Lara got together after her funeral/memorial, and remembered a few of the adventures that she had.Lara Timeline

Then Angel of Darkness rolled around, reviving the character and stating that she was able to survive the collapsing of the pyramid in Last Revelation. Angel of Darkness is one of my favourite in the series if I am completely honest, despite the bugs and clumsy gameplay. Angel of Darkness was set to be a trilogy and it featured a new playable character that you could control for a few levels, but because of the bugs and clumsy gameplay not to mention that the game was rushed to be released, the game was a failure and that marked the end of the Core Design era.

Then Crystal Dynamics took over and relauched the series. Because of this Lara’s backstory was completely revamped. The plane crash in the Himalayas remained, but this time around her mother was included in the crash and she disappeared while Lara watched. Her father would then be lead on a search to find his wife but ultimately he disappeared in Cambodia.

 

Gameplay

The gameplay has massively improved if you compare it to Angel of Darkness, and I don’t that to rip on AoD but because of the fact that you don’t have to use the keyboard only (I played AoD o the PC only) but also because of the fact that you’re now able to control the camera instead of it just being static behind Lara all the time. This brings a new dimension to the game that you’re able to properly look around at the scenery that you come across which all looks really realistic.

Lara’s moves has been upgraded as well, she now moves more realistic than she did in the previous games, well, I say realistic, but there is one move that I don’t think anyone can do, no matter how much upper body strength someone has. In the game, when you’re hanging of a ledge and you press the jump button to jump up it, Lara kind of launches herself into the air just high enough for her to jump onto the ledge without any effort at all. But I suppose not everything can be completely realisLara using Grappletic seeing as this is a game.

Lara’s equipment has been updated as well. Of course you’ll have Lara’s trusted dual guns to count on but this time you don’t have to muck around with torches that you have to collect whenever you can and that burn out. She’s now got a glow stick like light attached to one of her shoulder straps of the backpack which you can switch on at the press of a button. However the power of it does run out after sometime and you’ll need to let it recharge for some time. Not just that, Lara also has the use of a grapple now, I think it’s a magnetic one as it doesn’t really look like a grapple you would normally see, but whenever you see a shiny patch on an object you’re able to use the grapple on it.

Another thing that’s been updated is Lara’s looks. If you’re a fan of the classic games like me, you’ll know that Lara usually wears a turquoise tank top and brown shorts with white socks and boots, but this time around her look has been updated to look a little more mature. Her outfit is primarily brown and instead of a tank top she now wears a t-shirt like shirt. Personally I think that the outfit upgrade (or downgrade whichever you want to call it) wasn’t needed seeing as the fans know Lara from her turquoise tank top and shorts. As for the classic braid or plait, don’t look for it, it’s been replaced with a normal pony tail which also moves this Lara away from the Lara from the classic games.

As for the rest of the game, I would’ve liked to see a few harder puzzles like you had in the classic games. But they’re all a bit easy if you just look around for a bit. Not just that, because Lara now wears a headset and has a team to back her up, in the form of the Techie Zip and researcher Alistair, clues for the puzzles are usually given away before you get a chance to properly look around. The game is also a bit linear; the path that you need to thread is pretty much laid out for you without having to look very hard for it.

 

Conclusion

Despite the few short comings that I’ve listed above, I do think that TR: Legend is really enjoyable. The fact that the rewards system has been brought in (not to mention a walk about Croft Manor) works perfectly as well as you’re able to play through the game in a lot of different outfits that you’re able to unlock with the rewards system.

Overall, if you’re a fan of the previous games, I think that this one is worth picking up and giving it a go.

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